There are a broad range of actions that can alleviate water scarcity. There is no such thing as a free lunch, there will always be flow-on consequences. When everything is changing, it’s important to think about what lines you should avoid crossing.
Irrigation and, more generally, agriculture are the biggest water users in most parts of the world, with a large part of this going to food production. There are several widely recognised ways in which water use could be reduced, while still providing healthy food for all.
The futures exploration tool in the Atlas provides a preliminary estimate of the combined impact of several measures at a local scale, based on an analysis by Kummu and others in 2017. This includes:
If less food needs to be produced, and it is produced with less water (higher efficiency/higher productivity), the total water use for agriculture can be reduced, improving water scarcity.
The article by Kummu and others emphasises that a lot of work is still needed to get a reliable understanding of impacts of changes to the system. We hope to add more on these issues to the Atlas over time.
Explore this data in a full interactive visualisation - change assumptions and explore possible futures!
What should you do?
Water scarcity means it is difficult to satisfy everyone. Reducing your own (direct & indirect) water use can help, but it’s important to think about the impacts in the whole system when trying to solve this problem.
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