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Consumptive water use to feed humanity: curing a blind spot
Stockholm International Water Institute, Sweden.
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2005 (English)In: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, ISSN 1027-5606, E-ISSN 1607-7938, Vol. 9, 15-28 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Since in large parts of the world it is getting difficult to meet growing water demands by mobilising more water, the discourse has turned its focus to demand management, governance and the necessary concern for aquatic ecosystems by reserving an "environmental flow" in the river. The latter calls for attention to river depletion which may be expected in response to changes in consumptive water use by both natural and anthropogenic systems. Basically, consumptive use has three faces: runoff generation influenced by land cover changes; consumptive use of water withdrawn; and evaporation from water systems (reservoirs, canals, river based cooling). After demonstrating the vulnerability to changes in consumptive use under savanna region conditions - representative of many poverty and hunger prone developing countries subject to attention in the Millennium Development Goal activities - the paper exemplifies; 1) changes in runoff generation in response to regional scale land cover changes; 2) consumptive use in large scale irrigation systems. It goes on to analyse the implications of seeing food as a human right by estimating the additional consumptive use requirements to produce food for the next two generations. Attention is paid to remaining degrees of freedom in terms of uncommitted water beyond an environmental flow reserve and to potential food trade consequences (so-called virtual water). The paper concludes that a human-right-to-food principle will have major consequences in terms of altered consumptive water use. It will therefore be essential for humanity to address river depletion to avoid loss of resilience of the life support system. This will demand a deep-going cooperation between hydrology, ecology and water governance.Since in large parts of the world it is getting difficult to meet growing water demands by mobilising more water, the discourse has turned its focus to demand management, governance and the necessary concern for aquatic ecosystems by reserving an "environmental flow" in the river. The latter calls for attention to river depletion which may be expected in response to changes in consumptive water use by both natural and anthropogenic systems. Basically, consumptive use has three faces: runoff generation influenced by land cover changes; consumptive use of water withdrawn; and evaporation from water systems (reservoirs, canals, river based cooling). After demonstrating the vulnerability to changes in consumptive use under savanna region conditions - representative of many poverty and hunger prone developing countries subject to attention in the Millennium Development Goal activities - the paper exemplifies; 1) changes in runoff generation in response to regional scale land cover changes; 2) consumptive use in large scale irrigation systems. It goes on to analyse the implications of seeing food as a human right by estimating the additional consumptive use requirements to produce food for the next two generations. Attention is paid to remaining degrees of freedom in terms of uncommitted water beyond an environmental flow reserve and to potential food trade consequences (so-called virtual water). The paper concludes that a human-right-to-food principle will have major consequences in terms of altered consumptive water use. It will therefore be essential for humanity to address river depletion to avoid loss of resilience of the life support system. This will demand a deep-going cooperation between hydrology, ecology and water governance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 9, 15-28 p.
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18451OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-18451DiVA: diva2:219522
Note
Original Publication: Malin Falkenmark and Mats Lannerstad, Consumptive water use to feed humanity: curing a blind spot, 2005, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, (9), 15-28. http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/9/15/2005/ Licensed by: European Geophysical Society http://www.egu.eu/ Available from: 2009-06-10 Created: 2009-05-27 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Water Realities and Development Trajectories: Global and Local Agricultural Production Dynamics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Water Realities and Development Trajectories: Global and Local Agricultural Production Dynamics
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Vatten en realitet i jordbruksutvecklingen : Global och lokal dynamik över tid
Abstract [en]

Water constraints for humans and nature are gaining more and more public attention as a critical environmental dilemma that needs to be addressed. When aquifers and rivers are running dry, the debate refers to an ongoing “world water crisis”. This thesis focuses on the water and agricultural production complexity in a global, regional and local perspective during different phases of development. It addresses the river basin closing process in light of consumptive water use changes, land use alterations, past and future food production in waterscarce developing countries in general, and a south Indian case study basin in particular, the Bhavani basin in Tamil Nadu.

The study focuses on early phases of global agricultural development and addresses consumptive use and river depletion in response to land use change and irrigation expansion. It shows that focus must be shifted from a water use to a consumptive water use notion that considers both green and blue water resources.

The Bhavani basin development trajectory reveals a dynamic interplay between land and water resources and different socio-political groups during the “green revolution” period. The present system has emerged as a step-by-step adaptation in response to hydro-climatic variability, human demands and infrastructure constraints. The study reveals three kinds of basin closure: allocation closure; hydrological closure; and perception wise closure. Many concerted actions on multiple scales have contributed to an increasing water use complexity even after closure. The study shows the extent to which natural variability hides creeping changes, and that the “average year” is a deceptive basis for water allocation planning.

Future consumptive water requirements to feed growing populations in the developing world is analysed with a back-casting country-based approach. The study shows a doubling of water requirements by 2050 and how the challenge can be halved by increased water productivity. Since blue water accessibility for irrigation clearly will be insufficient, additional green water has to be acquired by horizontal agricultural expansion into other terrestrial ecosystems. The task will be substantial and increase the importance of global food trade.

Abstract [sv]

Vattenbrist för människor och ekosystem är en mer och mer uppmärksammad miljöfråga. Sjunkande grundvattennivåer och uttorkade floder gör att många talar om en ”global vattenkris”. Denna avhandling fokuserar på de komplexa sambanden mellan vatten och jordbruksproduktion utifrån ett globalt, regionalt och lokalt perspektiv under olika utvecklingsfaser under fyra sekler. Den redogör för hur avrinningsområden överintecknas och slutligen ”stängs” för ytterligare vattenutvinning. Effekterna av ökad vattenutvinning i relation till historisk och framtida matproduktion analyseras generellt i utvecklingsländer med vattenbrist, och i detalj i en fallstudie i Bhavani avrinningsområde i Tamil Nadu i södra Indien.

Studien visar för den tidiga jordbruksutvecklingen på global nivå hur förändrad markanvändning och bevattningsexpansion leder till förändrad balans mellan evapotranspiration och avrinning, med uttorkning av vattendrag som följd. Den visar vidare vikten av ett paradigmskifte där fokus flyttas från vattenanvändning till ”konsumerande” vattenanvändning, och som inkluderar både grönvatten- och blåvattenresurser.

Analysen av Bhavaniområdets utvecklingskurva under det senaste seklets jordbruksutveckling visar på ett dynamiskt växelspel mellan land- och vattenresurser och mellan olika samhällsgrupper. Den nuvarande vattenanvändningssituationen har stegvis växt fram som en respons på hydroklimatisk variabilitet, människors behov och infrastrukturbegränsningar. Studien påvisar att ett avrinningsområde kan ses som ”stängt” på tre skilda sätt: när flödet är överintecknat, när utflödet sinar, och när vattenanvändare upplever att behoven överstiger tillgången. Även efter ”stängning” har etablering och intensifiering av vattenutvinning fortsatt och resulterat i ett alltmer komplext och sammanflätat vattenanvändningsmönster. Studien visar vidare hur hög hydroklimatisk variabilitet, dels gör att ”genomsnittlig vattentillgång” är förledande vid planering av vattenfördelning i ett avrinningsområde, och dels döljer smygande kumulativa effekter av ökad vattenutvinning.

Slutligen anlyseras ländervis framtida vattenbehov för att möta matbehovet i världens utvecklingsländer, vilket visar på en fördubbling fram till 2050. Tack vare ökad vattenproduktivitet kan behovet emellertid halveras. Endast en bråkdel av det resterande behovet kan mötas genom ökad bevattning, dvs. med mera blåvatten. En stor del av vattenbehovet måste istället täckas med mera grönvatten via uppodling av andra terrestra ekosystem. Uppgiften innebär en betydande utmaning och global handel med jordbruksprodukter kommer att öka avsevärt i betydelse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 105 + papers 1-5 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 475
Keyword
Agriculture development, food production, per capita food supply, consumptive water use, evaporation, transpiration, hydro-climatic variability, blue water resource, green water resource, irrigation, river depletion, river basin closure, adaptive water management, vegetal and animal foods, Jordbruksutveckling, matproduktion, per capita mattillgång, konsumerande vattenanvändning, evaporation, transpiration, hydroklimatisk variabilitet, blåvattenresurs, grönvattenresurs, bevattning, uttorkning av vattendrag, överintecknade avrinningsområden, anpassad vattenhantering, vegetarisk och animalisk föda.
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18457 (URN)978-91-7393-665-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-04-20, Sal TEMCAS, T-Huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-05-27 Created: 2009-05-27 Last updated: 2014-09-29Bibliographically approved

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