An Ecosystem Services Approach to Water and Food Security

International Water Management Institute, UNEP
International Water Management Institute, UNEP
Publication date
May 2011
Environment/Climate Change
Environmental Management
Free/Pay for content

Overcoming hunger and meeting the nutritional needs of almost 7 billion people, rising to over 9 billion people by 2050, is a central challenge for this generation. Equally critical will be to achieve this in a way that keeps humanity’s footprint within planetary boundaries.

Water scarcity is self-evidently one of the key factors that will limit food production. This is especially the case in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where malnutrition and food insecurity are already widespread. In these areas, the livelihoods and well-being of poor communities are critically
dependent on their farm produce and the ecosystem services from the local landscape that support their livelihoods and income.

This repport on Ecosystems for Water and Food Security is part of UNEP’s contribution to the global food crisis, pledged to the United Nations Secretary-General and
developed in collaboration with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and other partners. Together, we identified and explored the links between ecosystems, water and food, and illustrate how resilient ecosystems can support and increase food security.

It is clear that enormous opportunities exist to increase food production in ways that make optimal and sustainable use of water and other resources. This means that we can feed a global population without massive and irreversible damage to our ecosystems. It also means that ensuring food security, managing water resources and protecting ecosystems must be considered as a single policy rather than as separate, and sometimes competing, choices.