19.04.2011 | ZEF: Water Lecture “Sustaining growth via water productivity: 2030/2050 Scenarios“

Time and place: Tuesday, April 19 2011, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
at ZEF (ground floor conference room)

Claudia Ringler
(International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI)

Claudia Ringler is Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Her research interests are water resources management – in particular, river basin management – and agricultural and natural resource policies for developing countries. Moreover, she is undertaking work on adaptation to climate change and enhanced rural water quality management.

Abstract of the Lecture:
Efficiency of water management and our ability to sustain population and economic growth are inextricably linked; that is, a lack of efficient water management will limit our ability to grow. Already today 36% of the global population — approximately 2.4 billion people — live in water-scarce regions and 22% of the world’s GDP (US.4 trillion at 2000 prices) is produced in water-short areas. Moreover, 39% of global grain production is not sustainable in terms of water use. Business-as-usual levels of water productivity under a medium economic growth scenario will not be sufficient to reduce risks and ensure sustainability.

Under business-as-usual, 52% of the global population (4.8 billion people), 49% of global grain production, and 45% (US trillion) of total GDP will be at risk due to water stress by 2050, which will likely impact investment decisions, increase operation costs and affect the competitiveness of certain regions. For China and India and many other rapidly-developing countries, water scarcity has already started to materially risk growth — in these two countries alone 1.4 billion people live in areas of high water stress today. However, also many of the most advanced regions of the industrialized world will have to increasingly cope with water scarcity and its effects on growth, e.g. California.

To assess the impact of water shortages on economic growth, we assess what growth levels can be sustained at today’s water productivity and to what extent gains in efficiency and water productivity (output per drop) can enable higher levels of growth. To do this we develop and implement four scenarios out to 2050 using four different water productivity and energy pathways. These four scenarios are assessed using three levels of economic growth to examine the impact of growth on water scarcity, as well as food security.