A United Nations report released Thursday detailing humanity’s degradation of natural resources warns swift and sweeping reforms are needed to keep feeding the growing global population.
“The pressures on land and water ecosystems are now intense, and many are stressed to a critical point.”
The new U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report argues that “a sense of urgency needs to prevail over a hitherto neglected area of public policy and human welfare, that of caring for the long-term future of land, soil, and water.”
“Taking care of land, water, and particularly the long-term health of soils,” the publication explains, “is fundamental to accessing food in an ever-demanding food chain, guaranteeing nature-positive production, advancing equitable livelihoods, and building resilience to shocks and stresses arising from natural disasters and pandemics.”
Entitled The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture: Systems at breaking point (SOLAW 2021), the report declares that “time is of the essence.”
That tone is echoed by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu in a foreword to the report, which he says provides “evidence of the changing and alarming trends in resource use.”
“The pressures on land and water ecosystems are now intense, and many are stressed to a critical point,” Qu writes. “It is clear our future food security will depend on safeguarding our land, soil, and water resources.”
Already, human-induced soil degradation affects 34% of land used for food while water scarcity threatens 3.2 billion people—nearly half the total human population—in agricultural areas, according to SOLAW 2021.
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