The world is missing a chance to eradicate hunger and poverty for billions of people living in regions with variable and scarce rainfall. Without improved management of rainwater, the future development goals currently being discussed are unrealistic, say leading scientists.
Some of the world’s leading water, environment and resilience scientists and experts on Sunday in Stockholm, Sweden published a call to the UN, saying that rain, and the way it is managed, is what will determine whether hunger and poverty can be eradicated in the world. The call was made at the onset of World Water Week in the Swedish capital – the leading annual meeting place for water and development issues.
The scientists, including Professor Malin Falkenmark of Stockholm International Water Institute/Stockholm Resilience Centre and Professor Johan Rockström of Stockholm Resilience Centre, are “deeply concerned that sustainable management of rainfall in water scarce regions of the world is missing in the goals and targets proposed by the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Poverty (Goal 1), Hunger (Goal 2) and Freshwater (Goal 6).
More than two billion people live in some of the driest and poorest areas of the world, also home to the fastest growing populations. These regions depend on highly variable, unreliable and unpredictable rainfall. When it rains, it pours, making agriculture extremely challenging. However, over time these areas do receive enough rain, and with better methods of using the rainwater, food production could be drastically improved.
Attempting to eradicate global poverty and hunger without addressing the productivity of rain “is a serious and unacceptable omission”, and the Sustainable Development Goals as currently proposed “cannot be achieved without a strong focus on sustainable and resilient management of rainfall for resilient food production” the scientists say.
The signatories call upon the United Nations to add a target on rainwater management to any Hunger Goal in the Sustainable Development Goals, which are to be agreed on in 2015.
The signatories of the declaration are: Malin Falkenmark, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI); Stockholm Resilience Centre; Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre; Torgny Holmgren, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI); Mohamed Ait Kadi, Global Water Partnership (GWP); Tony Allan, King’s College, Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2008; Naty Barak, Netafim, Stockholm Industry Water Award winner 2013; Jeremy Bird, International Water Management Institute (IWMI); Fred Boltz, Rockefeller Foundation; Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute; David Grey, University of Oxford; Jerson Kelman, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Roberto Lenton, University of Nebraska; Julia Marton-Lefévre, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); and, Lisa Sennerby Forsse, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).