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 | 26-03-2024


Headwater for water

We need to talk about water – not just on Water Day!  



  • Because only around 0.3 % of our fresh water is accessible in the form of rivers, lakes or swamps. Although more than 2/3 of the earth is covered by water, not all water is the same. Less than 3 % is very unevenly distributed fresh water.
  • Because we need to increase water use for irrigation by 146 % by 2050 to keep up with global food demand (because crop production needs to grow by at least 50 % by 2050)

But the water supply is already exhausted with dramatic consequences:

  • Arid parts of the world are becoming drier due to reduced rainfall, decreasing river flows (as mountain ice and snow retreat), rising temperatures leading to increased evaporation and increased plant transpiration
  • Rivers no longer reach the sea, lakes and aquifers are shrinking
  • Species that live in freshwater die out about 5 times faster than those that live on land
  • Large cities are threatened by extreme water shortages
  • Pumping groundwater for irrigation has redistributed so much mass from the aquifers to the oceans that the Earth's pole of rotation has shifted

What to do and what not to do?   


  • Ensure that less water is needed to grow a certain amount of crop and irrigation becomes cheaper – this can lead to the so-called paradox of irrigation efficiency. For example, a €600 million investment to reduce water use by improving irrigation efficiency in the Guadiana River basin in Spain has increased water use.
  • Focus on water diversions from one place to another. Because of man-made climate change and increasing demand, many donor regions will also reach their limits.
  • Rely on water from desalination plants. This typically costs five to ten times as much as water from the earth or from the air, while the process requires enormous amounts of energy and large amounts of toxic brine produced.


  • Pass laws to limit total and individual water consumption. Here, companies can move forward individually instead of waiting for restrictions.
  • Change nourishment. Those of us with dietary choice (the wealthier half of the world's population) should try to minimize the water footprint of our food. A vegetarian diet not only reduces the need for plants (less plants are needed for human nutrition than for feeding farm animals), but also water consumption. In fact, milk has a much higher water requirement than the worst alternative: almond milk.
  • As a food retailer, informative labeling helps to show the true cost of a product.


With our wide range of consulting services in the area of water and marine resources we can also help you to ensure that the topic of water takes priority in your company.

Let's talk.