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£9foodethicsWaterThe ethics ofefficiencySpring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.orgPLUSClive Batesenjoys a caféin KhartoumUnpacking theproblem: JacobTompkins andJosé EstebanCastroStuartDownward,Mike Acremanand Stuart Orron the solutionsIs our food too thirsty?Maite Aldaya, Tony Allan, Mikel Ateka,Wenonah Hauter, Tim Lang, Ramón Llamas,Lyla Mehta, David Molden, Nick Reeves,Johan Rockström, Jeff Rooker, John Selborne


Contents050710151617192021The challengeAre we exporting drought?Jacob TompkinsWater ethicsJosé Esteban Castro says water policy should get politicalThe big question: is our food too thirsty?Maite Aldaya | Tony Allan | Mikel Ateka | Wenonah Hauter | Tim Lang |Ramón Llamas | Lyla Mehta | David Molden | Nick Reeves | Johan Rockström |Jeff Rooker | John SelborneResponding to water scarcityTechnologyStuart DownwardPolicyMike AcremanBusinessStuart OrrColumnsWorldviewMaria Arce asks whether we can achieve global water equityOn the farmJohn Turner says farmers should look to their soil to avoid droughtBusiness pageNo future in bottled waterJeanette LongfieldFood Ethics, the magazine ofthe Food Ethics Council, seeksto challenge accepted opinionand spark fruitful debate aboutkey issues and developments infood and farming. Distributedquarterly to subscribers, eachissue features independent news,comment and analysis.The Food Ethics Councilchallenges government,business and the public to tackleethical issues in food andfarming, providing research,analysis and tools to help. Theviews of contributors to thismagazine are not necessarilythose of the Food Ethics Councilor its members.Please do not reproduce withoutpermission. Articles arecopyright of the authors andimages as credited. Unlessotherwise indicated, all othercontent is copyright of the FoodEthics Council 2008.Editorial team:Liz BarlingTom MacMillanSusan Kerry BedellDesign & printing:PEP the Printers, BrightonSpecial thanks to:Laura DavisBruce ScholtenGeoff TanseyOliver SowerbyPrinted on 55% postconsumerrecycled paperISSN 1753-90560304222324RegularsFrom the editorLettersReviews – readingReviews – eating out | Clive BatesForthcoming eventsCOUNCILFood Ethics Council39 – 41 Surrey StreetBrighton BN1 3PB UKT: 0845 345 8574or +44 (0) 1273 766 654F: +44 (0) 1273 766 653info@foodethicscouncil.orgwww.foodethicscouncil.orgThe Food Ethics Council is aregistered charity (No. 1101885)Cover image:© istockphoto.com / iofoto


From the editorIt takes a mind-boggling 200,000,000litres of water a second to grow t h eworld’s food. That’s like gulping downthe Amazon river – its mouth 80 kmwide – day in, day out.We cannot sustain our currentwater habits. In some places rivers andaquifers are sucked dry. In others thereis still water but not enough to supportecosystems or people’s livelihoodsWhere water is scarce injusticeabounds.Because irrigation uses 70 percentof abstracted freshwater, food is onthe front line. As concern over waterescalates, food production willbe affected and blamed in equalmeasure. Big food companies areworried – water shortages already strainproduction in some regions, so theyknow there’s more than reputation atrisk. In the policy stakes, meanwhile,water scarcity is up there with climatechange.This year has already seen one bigfood initiative to save water, andmore may well follow. Through theFederation House Commitment, led bythe UK Food and Drink Federation andresource efficiency group Envirowise,the UK branches of firms likeCoca-Cola, Kraft, Nestlé, PepsiCo andCadbury Schweppes have pledged tocut their water use by 20 percent by2020.The commitment is welcome, butonly a start. It applies to the signatories’own operations but not to theirsupply chains. These are muchthirstier and the place where most foodcompanies can exert the greatestinfluence on water use. To provethey take the problem seriously, thecompanies must extend efforts alongtheir supply chains and be consistentacross global brands. The sector hasmade a strong case for better watermanagement and now it must followthrough its own logic.But what would good practice look like?Would it mean shrinking company andproduct water footprints, like carbonfootprints? Is efficiency the answer?To a point. Footprinting can capture thesheer scale of our water use and focusefficiency drives. But it also misses alot.For a start, water isn’t carbon. Whereand when you make your savings,and whether they come from rainfallor stored water, is vitally important.Quality can matter as much asquantity. It is the impact of embeddedwater that matters, not the amount.A second challenge is to improve watermanagement alongside other aspectsof sustainable development. Footprintswon’t give us all the answers and toomany footprints just leave a muddymess.Third is the danger that by solvingone problem we cause another.Companies can reduce the strain theyplace water resources by supplyingfrom somewhere wetter but, as withairfreight, that risks pulling the rug outfrom under vulnerable communities.Desalination – another strategy – maybuy water at heavy cost in greenhousegas emissions.Then finally, having stressed theinfluence food companies can wield onwater use through their supply chains,we must also see the limits. What arethe opportunity costs of using water togrow food? Will we swap farms for golfcourses?These aren’t just technical hitches. Theyreveal a deeper problem: footprintingisn’t ethical. It’s not unethical either – itsimply leaves the ethics of water useto one side, treating water problems asa technical challenge to be solved bybetter management and greaterefficiency. Yet, as José Esteban Castro(p.7) points out, water is hotly political– the work of water engineers toucheslivelihoods, deep-rooted valuesand vested interests. Like hunger,water scarcity is a social and economiccondition, not simply a physical one –rich people don’t starve or go thirsty.Unless efforts to address waterproblems start with that fact, we duckthe biggest issue.So as well as technical tools likefootprints, we need approaches towater governance built on soundethical principles. A report forUNESCO by Lord Selborne (p.11)flagged up six such principles,including the right of “participationfor all individuals, especially the poor”,“human equality”, “the common good”and “the principle of stewardship”. Italso questioned the instrumental viewthat water management is simply ameans to human ends, suggesting werekindle a “sense of the sacred” inwater. 1What does water ethics mean inpractice, for consumers, governmentsand food businesses?It shows consumers are in a fix. We caneat less thirstily but we can’t do muchabout the opportunity costs. Purchasesthat make us feel good may have perverseconsequences. As the UNESCOreport suggests, the bigger challenge isto act like water citizens, not just aswater consumers. We need to thinkabout water at the polls and in ourcommunities more, perhaps, than whenwe’re shopping.Governments need water policiesthat guarantee basic entitlements anduniversal access, and support priorityuses. What counts as abasic entitlement and which uses are apriority (how much is allocated to foodproduction and to support ecosystems,for example) are questions ofvalue – they are ethical debates thatmust be held openly. Policy effortsmust be international, because it is aseasy to export drought as to importembedded water. They must alsoinform innovation, energy, agriculturaland public health policies. Ascontributors to this magazine discuss,biofuels, soil organic matter, the balancebetween rainfed and irrigated farmingand, of course, diet, are all bound upwith water management.Finally, what should food businessesdo? First, support policies that improvewater governance across the board– actively debate the winners andlosers, the value of water to societyand the other aspects of water use thatget us beyond the ‘litres per kilogram’footprinting mindset. Second, it follows,don’t label embedded water – ifwater has a place on labels, it is withinwider accreditation for sustainableproduction. And third, as a priority,engage with the communities thatsupply and consume your products.Partly this is pragmatic – moving tomore sustainable production models,without cutting and running fromwater stressed areas, means bringingproducers and consumers with you. Yetit is also crucially about ethics – howelse can we really know what a betterfuture for water should look like?1 Selborne, J (2000) The ethics offreshwater use. UNESCO-COMEST,Reykjavik.Tom MacMillantom@foodethicscouncil.orgwww.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 03


lettersIf you want to respond to any of the articles in this issue or raise a differentpoint, please write us a letter. Our contact details are on the contents page.Meat’s carbon emissions – a lot of hot air?Sir; Tara Garnett (Winter ’07) is too polite about theFood and Agriculture Organisation’s claim, in its 2006report Livestock’s Long Shadow, that 18 percent of theworld’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributable tomeat. She says the figure is high (compared to her ownfigure of 8 percent for the UK) because in the developedworld a higher proportion of emissions come fromfossil fuel burning for transport, industry and heating.This is true, but people in the developing world alsoconsume less animal protein than we do and the meansby which the FAO assigns such a disproportionate levelof greenhouse gas emissions to those who do not getthe lion’s share of the meat deserve more scrutiny.The main way they do this is by including figures forcarbon emissions from Amazon deforestation – a graveproblem, but one which most analysts put to one sidebecause it distorts the picture. Why? It is unclear howmuch deforestation is directly due to beef; emissionsfrom deforestation reflect expansion, not production(that is they are a capital cost, not an annual cost); andabout 99 percent of the world’s meat and dairy producedoes not come from the Amazon and hence, by theFAO’s account, is only responsible for 12 percent ofglobal greenhouse gases, or 13.5 percent if you includeAmazon soya.There are other reasons why the FAO’s figures formethane and nitrous oxide emissions should beviewed with caution, which I have outlined in articlespublished elsewhere (tinyurl.com/2d88df and www.tlio.org.uk). The main issue is that the policy arm of theFAO is by no means ideologically disinterested, but foryears has been targeting what it regards as inefficientpeasant farming. In 1998 Henning Steinfeld, principalauthor of Livestock’s Long Shadow, wrote: “We cannotafford the common nostalgic desire to maintain orrevive mixed farming systems with closed nutrientand energy cycles... To avoid overuse of immediatenatural resources, mixed farmers and pastoral peoplealike need to substitute them with external inputs.The trend of further intensification and specialisationis inescapable. Attempts to change the direction are“doomed to failure.”In my view the authors of Livestock’s Long Shadowattribute to extensive agriculture the highest levelof emissions they feel they can get away with, not topersuade people in the north to reduce their excessivemeat consumption, but to support their contention thatmeat consumption should double through the adoptionof intensive and industrial production methods.Simon FairlieChapter 7www.tlio.org.uk/Chapter7Less meat or no meat?Sir; the fundamental and most challenging ethical question regardingeating meat is not whether it should be done more sustainably, consumed atdecreased rates, or even whether animals should be treated morehumanely. It is whether animals should be raised and killed to be eaten byhumans at all. This dilemma was not much addressed in the latest issue ofFood Ethics.Since ethical thinking requires subjecting one’s views to critical scrutiny,we should remember that none of the common defences of eating animalspass critical thinking. Is it moral to eat chickens, pigs and cows becausethey can’t reason abstractly and lack concepts of right and wrong? Manyhumans are likewise unable, but we recognise that eating them would bewrong. Is it because (some) animals eat other animals? Surely animalsshould not be our moral exemplars. Is it because of tradition, and thatmoney is to be made from it? But not all traditions and employments aremoral either. And insisting that animals have no rights needs defence if it isto be anything other than a statement of the assumption that it’s moral tokill animals for food.Ethics sets forth an ideal. When this ideal is defended with impartial moralreasons, it’s hard to see how raising and killing animals for the pleasure andconvenience of eating them is ethically defensible. Animals raised for foodare, like us, conscious, feeling beings whose lives matter from our points ofview. Like us, they too should not be eaten.Nathan NobisAssistant Professor, Philosophy Department, Morehouse College, Atlanta, USAwww.NathanNobis.comCAP needs an ethical foundationSir; the Common Agricultural Policy (Autumn ’07) has never hada nutritional component, it does not have one now and, from thereform proposals currently on the agenda, it will not have one for theforeseeable future.Which is to say, CAP has no ethical foundation. The fundamental purposeof farming is to provide the food that people need to eat. CAP has neverincorporated this basic point.Recently, omission has turned into aggression. The long-delayed ‘reform’ ofthe sugar regime reduced the price of sugar by 36 percent – in the midst ofan obesity epidemic! A policy for malnutrition.Even at previous EU prices, sugar was a cheap ingredient for food and drinkmanufacturers. The cut will encourage them to use more in processedproducts, our main sources of sugar these days.The global obesity epidemic forms the health context in which the currentreform of CAP is taking place. Yet most proposals concentrate on increasingother ‘public benefits’ – animal welfare, environmental protection, ruraldevelopment, sustainable production. And that includes, with two honourableexceptions, most contributors to the Food Ethics special issue on CAP.It is time to use CAP to enhance basic nutrition – to discourage productionof foods we want people to eat less (fatty, sugary) and to encourageproduction of those people should eat more (vegetables, fruits, fibre). If so,then (to quote a favourite food industry slogan) agriculture will be part ofthe solution for obesity, not part of the problem.Prof J T WinklerDirector, Nutrition Policy Unit, London Metropolitan Universitywww.londonmet.ac.uk04 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Water: the challengeAre we exporting drought?The problem and promise of embedded waterJacob TompkinsA few weeks ago the UK Food and DrinkFederation and Envirowise launched theFederation House Commitment. Pledgingenvironmental improvements in the food anddrink sector by 2020, the commitment coversa range of issues, from packaging to carbonand water. It is backed by the big names in thefood and drink sector and is very welcome.The water commitment pledges to cut processwater use by 20 percent by 2020 – that’s a lot ofwater saved in the UK. But if you consider theamount of water embedded in products, it’s adrop in the ocean. Welcome to the concept ofembedded, embodied, shadow or virtual water.Put simply it is the water used to producea product.Water may not be a globally traded commodity,but there are huge daily fluxes of water movingaround the globe in the goods we consume.It takes water to produce everything we use,clothes, shoes, car, computers and especiallyfood. The amount of water required to producefood is astonishing – it takes 200,000,000litres per second to grow food for the planet.Even though most of this food productionis rainfed we still use 70 percent of globalfreshwater abstraction for irrigation.This is worrying. Rainfall patterns will change asthe climate changes, so we can’t rely on natureto irrigate our unnaturally large plantations,and our insatiable desire for any crop at anytime will continue to grow. Both these driversmean more irrigated land, which in turn meansless available water for the environment andhuman use, particularly in areas of water stresswhere there is often a cheap labour market.So we’ll get cheap bunches of supermarketflowers and packets of mange tout, subsidisedby sub-Saharan subsistence farmers or lowincome urban families denied access to water.On top of this biofuels are starting to affectthe economics of agriculture and resource use,and at 1,000 litres of water for 1 litre of biofuel,they are already having a big impact in drivingup water use.So does the UK have an influence in termsof driving demand for embedded water andcan we help to reduce this demand? Are weexporting drought?Agriculture in the UK is not a great user ofwater, accounting for less than 5 percent ofconsumption. But this is growing, and in manyparts of the UK there is increasing tensionbetween the needs of agriculture, domesticsupply and the environment. In places like theIsle of Wight or East Anglia businesses havebeen prevented from expanding due to a lackof available water, forcing them to relocate.On the face of it, the environment is beingprotected and businesses are moving to areaswhere water is less stressed – except they aren’t.They are moving to places with less stringentregulation, resulting in tomato production inthe Isle of Wight shifting to Spain, Portugaland even Morocco. Absurdly, although we areprotecting the water environment in the UK, weare also losing rural jobs, exacerbating droughtin already arid countries and dramaticallyincreasing food miles.There are hugedaily fluxes of watermoving around theglobe in the goodswe consumeIn this complex issue it’s tempting to use wateras a champion for protectionism, but insteadwe should start looking at global flows ofembedded water.Unfortunately we can’t just assess the amountof water in products, then stick water labelson food for consumers to make informeddecisions. The answer is not that simple, as youwill see in the rest of this magazine. There are alot of questions about how we should deal withembedded water.For a start we need to apportion blue(abstracted) and green (soil) water; assess theimpact of blue water; and offset the benefitsaccrued from using water.Put simply, embedded water means thatevery time we consume, we are drawing waterfrom across the globe. Figures produced byChapagain and Hoekstra for UNESCO estimatethat in the UK we consume around 3,400litres a day in embedded water. In some casesthese fluxes can be a good thing, where floodwater is used to irrigate crops, or where wateris readily available and its use creates incomeand employment. In other cases it can be verydetrimental. Consuming crops that have beengrown in water scarce regions denies access towater for local communities and damages thelocal environment. There’s no denying thatagriculture affects the environment – for goodand bad – but overabstraction of water forirrigation can cause environmental damage ona global scale.Cotton production around the Aral Sea is themost stark example, where a whole sea hasbeen decimated and the regional and globalenvironment has been affected. Current waterconsumption in parts of Spain, California,China and East Africa are heading for the sameecological and social disasters, driven in part bythe contents of shopping baskets in the UK.But although embedded water is a globalproblem of epic proportions, it may also offera solution. Water is too heavy to import inbulk and, unlike energy, there is no substitutefor water. But if one tonne of wheat contains1,300 tonnes of water, then a water scarceregion can import 1,300 tonnes of water byimporting 1 tonne of wheat. So if China lookedat the option of importing water in goods theabsurd folly of the South-North water transfermay disappear.Continued on next page...Jacob Tompkins isDirector of Waterwise,a not-for-profit NGOthat promotes waterefficiency in the UK.His background isin hydrogeology.He previously worked asenvironment advisor to theNational Farmers’ Unionand later at Water UK.jtompkins@waterwise.org.uk.www.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 05


Water: the challengeBut because food security and self-sufficiencyare highly political issues, Governmentsare unwilling to asses or discuss embeddedwater. Likewise most large multinationalcorporations have not yet embraced theconcept of embedded water, due to thecomplexity of the problem, lack of political orconsumer pressure, and the fact that they arealready struggling with assessing the carbonissues in their supply chains.Switch your potatovariety from waterguzzlers like MarisPiper to droughtresistant varietieslike DesireeIt is clearly time for embedded water fluxesto be assessed at a global level and it mustbe done internationally. There needs to berecognition and discussion of the issue. Thenthere needs to be an international agreementon the value of water and how abstractionshould be monitored and apportioned.The European Water Framework Directiveis the closest we have to an internationalframework for water management but it isflawed because each Member State has at leastone set of legislation covering abstractionrights. And whilst the Directive considerscross-boundary fluxes of groundwater andrivers, it does not consider fluxes of waterin goods. This leads to situations where theUK exports drought by importing tomatoes,whilst Spain toys with the idea of a nationalwater grid which would cause massiveenvironmental damage. Despite this, Europehas the best system of water managementof any region – but look at global transfersbetween regions and the situation is muchworse.Embedded water means that our foodconsumption and production is devastatingthe world’s fresh water resources. It’s time todo something about it.If the best solution is global, then how do wemove towards this, and what can we do asindividuals?At an individual level, ask questions aboutthe water in the food you buy. But bewareimplications for jobs in the developing worldassociated with shunning embedded water.Probably the simplest action is to switchyour potato variety from water guzzlers likeMaris Piper to drought resistant varieties likeDesiree. This has an immediate impact onwater use in the UK and will reduce pesticidelevels. If your shops don’t stock Desiree askwhy not. Or if you really want to reduce yourwater footprint, think about the meat youeat and where it comes from. Beef is probablythe most water intensive product in theworld! By asking questions we can help pushbusiness to do the right thing and get wateron their agendas.At a national level, the UK should take a leadon this issue. As major water consumers ouractions have an impact across the globe, sothe UK government should develop a policyon embedded water and work with othermembers states to do the same at the EU levellinked to the Water Framework Directive.The UN Environment Programme is startingto look at this issue but is not getting muchsupport from nation states; hopefully we canall help influence that.06 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Water ethicsA better way to good governanceJosé EstebanCastro says it istime water policygot political…Dr José Esteban Castro isSenior Lecturer in Sociologyat the University ofNewcastle, where hespecialises in water politics.He recently published‘Water, power, andcitizenship: social struggle inthe Basin of Mexico’(Palgrave-Macmillan,2006).j.e.castro@newcastle.ac.ukAs a world, we don’t use water very wisely. Inmany areas, poor water management sees waterusers suck their future out from under themselves,wreaking havoc on the environment and stirringup social conflict. To tackle this properly do weneed a universal water ethic?Since the 1970s, the international communityhas launched a host of initiatives to make watermanagement fair and ecologically sustainable.They have targeted desertification, waterpollution, water conflicts, floods and otherdisastrous climatic events, water-related diseases,and shortfalls and inequalities in the allocationand distribution of water for essential humanuse. 1 Despite all these important efforts, thestruggle to manage water better is being lost inmany countries.Freshwater is pushed and pulled by contradictoryforces – more and more is needed for human use,yet abstraction needs to slow down if we are torestore and protect fragile ecosystems and waterbodies.Ecological problemsWater use for agriculture poses a special challenge.Even before the extra demand from biofuels, theUN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)forecasted that developing countries will needan average 14 percent more irrigation water by2030. 2 While FAO doesn’t see this restrictingoverall availability of freshwater, environmentalistsargue that water abstractions need to fall if theyare to become sustainable. 3The critics point to dramatic examples such asthe Dead Sea and the Aral Sea in Central Asia,which have shrunk to a fraction of their originalsizes as a result of large-scale irrigation andwater-intensive industrial activities. These are justtwo examples in a long list of dying rivers, lakes,aquifers, wetlands and water bodies.Irrigation does not happen in isolation.Freshwater resources are subject to competingdemands from rising urban living standards indeveloping countries, the expansion of tourism inwater-scarce regions, or the growth of shrimpfarming and other forms of aquaculture, tomention just a few areas of concern.In this context, it is difficult to foresee how wecould possibly achieve – simultaneously – foodsecurity and sustainable water management.Water insecurityThe social injustices that surround water useunderline even more boldly the need for a globalwater ethic. Large swathes of the world live anddie without enough water to meet their basicneeds, or in fear of water shortage.The international community has failed to meetits goal of universal access to essential volumesof clean water and basic sanitation. This goal wasrestated in the late 1970s, when the aspirationto provide essential volumes of safe water to allby 1990 – 40 litres per person per day – wasendorsed by the United Nations. The 1977 UNWater Conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina,which led to the International Drinking WaterSupply and Sanitation Decade (1980-1990),declared that everyone has “the right to haveaccess to drinking water in quantities and of aquality equal to their basic needs”. 4 The Decadewas officially closed by the Global Consultationheld in New Delhi in 1990, which produced theNew Delhi Statement calling for “some [water]for all rather than more for some”. 5Despite significant progress in some areas, thesecommitments have met spectacular defeat. At thestart of the twenty-first century, 1.1 billion people(around 17 percent of the world’s population)still lack access to safe water while around 2.4billion (40 percent) lack adequate sanitation.Indeed, the tenacity of water insecurity hasseen old ambitions downgraded. In 1990, theaim had been to guarantee universal access toessential volumes of water. The current targetsexpressed in the UN Millennium DevelopmentGoals (MDGs), adopted in 2000-2002, onlyseek to halve the proportion of peopleContinued on next page...www.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 07


without access to these servicesby 2015. 6 The new goals may seemmore ‘realistic’ but they are ethicallysuspect – can the international communityreally accept that a large proportion ofhuman beings will continue to sufferpreventable disease and death for theforeseeable future?Unfortunately, the likelihood of thisbleak water future is confirmed bythe evidence emerging from recentevaluations of the progress towardsthe MDGs. They show that even theselimited objectives will not be met in manyof the world’s poorest countries. 7Moral conflictsThere is growing recognition that theroots of this unacceptable state ofaffairs are not simply technical or ‘natural’but rather, broadly speaking, social andpolitical. They stem from a “crisis ofsocial responsibility” 8 or, as the latest UNWorld Water Report puts it, “a crisis of[water] governance”. 9The current efforts to improve ‘watergovernance’ show up the deep-rootedmoral conflicts that have dogged effortsto achieve a universal water ethic. It isa debate fought between rival intellectualand political traditions, defendingoften irreconcilable principles, values andinterest groups.Silent politicsFor now, technocrats rule the roost. Forall the debate about water ethics, aninstrumental view of water governanceprevails – as a technical, managerialchallenge, not a political one. In practice,though, the politics get hidden ratherthan eliminated.For instance, a recent WorldBank-funded study produced severalrecommendations for the reform ofwater institutions worldwide, claimingthat “the main objectives arerather transparent… to: makewater as an economic good, strengthenallocation capabilities, increase thereliance on market forces, revive thepayment culture, ensure financialself-sufficiency, promote decentraliseddecision structure, and encourage theadoption of modern technology andinformation inputs”. 10Leaving aside whether these objectivesare right, this raises a barrage of ethicalquestions. Who decides the objectivesfor water reform – for whom are theseobjectives “transparent”? How are thesedecisions taken? What part do waterusers play in this process – are theyconsulted and how else can they getinvolved? What are the ultimateends and values that underpin suchobjectives?The fact is that good water governancemeans different things to differentpeople. For some, water governanceis an instrument, a means toachieve certain ends. They see it as anadministrative and technical toolkitthat can be used in different contextsto reach a given objective, such asenforcing a particular water policy likefull-cost recovery or the privatisation ofwater sources and services.For others, good governance is ademocratic process, where alternative,even rival, development projects aredebated and refined. They see it ascrucial to explore competing values,interests and claims to the common good,rather than assuming that the ends areobvious and that working out the bestmeans to achieve them is just a technicalmatter.That study is just one illustration ofthe contradictions running through theprevailing technocratic approaches towater management. A highly politicalproject to reform waterinstitutions worldwide is presented as aneutral, “transparent”, policy instrument.Today’s crucial decisions aboutwater – whether over large dams andambitious interbasin water transfers, orover the privatisation of essential watersources – continue to be taken and implementedwith complete disregard for theinterests and values of the vast majorityof the world’s water users and citizens.Water democracyDemocratic water governance makesmore sense. It is grounded in the viewthat “the core of governance has todo with determining what ends andvalues should be chosen and the meansby which those ends and values shouldbe pursued”. 11 Governance cannotbe reduced to an instrument for theimplementation of policy decisions takenby experts in the relevant fields.This difference runs to first principles.Some see water as a common goodand essential water services as a publicgood that cannot be governed throughthe market. Others take the quiteopposite view – that water is primarilyan economic resource, essential waterservices are a private good and acommodity, and so the governance ofwater and water services must centre onfree-market principles.08 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.orgGoverning water is inevitablypolitical and it is nonsense to pretendotherwise. Admitting so bringsconflicts over values and materialinterests into the open, where they canbe scrutinised and sometimes resolved,instead of brushing themunder the carpet. Democratic watergovernance raises the same questions astechnocratic approaches – whodecides, how, and so on – but, unlike atechnocratic approach, comes within-built ways to answer them. It putsethics at the heart of decisions aboutwater, instead of on the periphery as adistant ambition.Towards a universal water ethicLeading the welcome backlash againsttechnocratic approaches to watergovernance are calls for a universal waterethic – calls that are getting louder.In 2000, a UN working groupproduced a brief report on The Ethics ofFreshwater Use highlighting that thedebate on water ethics was directlylinked to wider debates on universalethical principles, in particular “humandignity”, the right of “participation


© istockphoto.com / Klaas Lingbeek-van Kranenfor all individuals, especially the poor”,“solidarity”, “human equality”, theprimacy of “the common good”, and “theprinciple of stewardship”. 12Then, in 2005, a group of over 100European water experts furtheremphasised the need for universalethical principles to underpin globalwater management, calling for urgentmeasures to sustain “the universalprinciple of respect for life”. Theyargued that “rivers, lakes, springs,wetlands, and aquifers must be consideredas the Heritage of theBiosphere”, and that principles fordemocratic and sustainable watermanagement should be given priority overall other considerations. 13There have been other, similarinitiatives in developing countries wheretechnocratic governance and theunchecked privatisation of water managementare coming under increasing fire.These are important moves that theinternational community should welcome.They offer a surer route to managingagricultural and other conflicts over water,and to water security. It might even meanwe start meeting those targets.1 See Milestones 1972 - 2006 at www.unesco.org/water/wwap/milestones/index.shtml.2 Bruinsma, J (2003). World agriculture: towards2015/2030. Earthscan, London.3 Brown, LR (2005) Outgrowing the earth.W. W.Norton & Co. London.4 United Nations (1980) International drinking watersupply and sanitation decade. UN, New York.5 United Nations (1990) The New Delhi statement.UN and the Government of India, New Delhi.6 United Nations (2000) Millennium declaration. UN,New York. United Nations (2002) Key commitments,targets and timetables from the Johannesburg plan ofimplementation. World Summit on SustainableDevelopment, UN, Johannesburg.7 World Health Organisation (2005) Health and theMillennium Development Goals. WHO, Geneva.8 Ward, C (1997) Reflected in water: a crisis of socialresponsibility. Casell, London.9 UNESCO (2006) Water: a shared responsibility.UNESCO and Berghahn Books, Paris and New York.10 Saleth, RM, and Dinar, A (1999) Evaluating waterinstitutions and water sector performance. World BankTechnical Paper 447, Washington DC.11 Hanf, K and Jansen, A-I (eds.) (1998) Governanceand environmental quality. Addison Wesley Longman,Harlow.12 Selborne, J (2000) The ethics of freshwater use.UNESCO-COMEST, Reykjavik.13 EUWATER (2005) European declaration for a newwater culture. New Water Culture Foundation –EUWATER Network, Saragossa. www.unizar.es/fnca/euwaterwww.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 09


Is our food toothirsty?We ask leading experts on food and water scarcity,and people who are doing something about it...The big questionTony AllanAround 90 percent of the water we consume isused to produce food, so what we choose to eatis important.It takes about 1,000 tonnes (cubic metres) ofwater to produce a tonne of wheat, but 16times as much to produce a tonne of beef. Eatingwheat products is an efficient way to use water,but using wheat, corn or soya as fodder forlivestock is not. People in North America andEurope consume about five cubic metres of waterper day from water resources. Poor people in theSouth survive on about one cubic metre per day.In China it is about two cubic metres per day.There is enough freshwater locally – with a fewexceptions – to meet the current and futureneeds of the world’s economies when it comes tohousehold and industrial use in urbanisingsocieties. But there may not be enough waterin the global hydrological systems toproduce our food. The world’s populationwill be levelling off by mid-century, but newagricultural demands, for biofuel for example, willimpact on water security.We face some tough personal and politicalchoices. Two of the biggest variables in wateruse are population and diet. China’s populationpolicy has taken the water demand of between300 and 400 million people out of theirown and global systems – as many as livein the Middle East, Europe or the UnitedStates – and we have benefitted. India’s waterconsumption is low because of its vegetarian foodculture. Are policies on diet more or lessintrusive than population policies? Does watersecurity call for both?Tony Allan is an international expert in waterresources, water policy and its reform.He has retired from teaching, but continues tobe an active member of the SOAS-King’s CollegeWater Research Group, which he founded.www.soas.ac.ukTim LangFoods vary enormously in the amount of embeddedwater they contain or represent. Meats and animalproducts are water-intense, but crops like rice arefantastically heavy users of water too, as are somehorticultural products.Three things are certain. First, water is essentialfor all foods – for growing, washing, processing andcooking. Second, global water stress will increase.Third, water auditing of food is going to come.Already, processors and farmers watch waterbills. As carbon equivalent and greenhouse gasassessments are rapidly being developed, so willaudits of food’s reliance on water.Water-stress is deemed a developing countryproblem, irrelevant to wet Britain. But as climatechange highlights the superficiality of nationalboundaries, so the world’s looming water crisiswill recast our mental maps on food and water.As home-grown food production slides, we buyothers’ water, labour and land.With water systems that were public now privatelyowned, water governance suffers from ‘lock-in’.Company interests shape policy yet costs are pushedonto consumers. An institutional architecture existswhich sees water as a single issue, when it shouldbe woven into other issues like land, housing, food,amenities.Democratic oversight is thin – why shouldOfwat bother about four litres of embeddedwater in a Kenyan green bean stem? Or 2,400 litresembedded in a hamburger? The emergingwater-in-food economy requires tight lifecycleassessments, and buy-in by everyone in the foodchain. This is not yet on the policy map, but willhave to come. The question is: under crisis oranticipated conditions?Tim Lang is Professor of Food Policy at CityUniversity’s Centre for Food Policy andNatural Resources Commissioneron the UK Government’sSustainable Development Commission.He is writing in a personal capacity.www.city.ac.uk10 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Farmers around the world rarely pay the fulleconomic cost for irrigation water. Governmentsunderstandably take the view thatfood security is a high priority and allocatea generous proportion of their water supply tofarmers for food production, at a cheaper ratethan to other sectors.John SelborneLord Selborne is a member of theHouse of Lords Select Committee onScience and Technology and chairedits report on Water Management,published in June 2006.www.parliament.ukIn Australia 70 percent of available water is usedfor irrigation, yet much of this is used on lowvalue crops at a time when the country’seconomy is threatened by water shortage. In NewSouth Wales half of all irrigation water is usedon pasture.Global water demand is increasing throughpopulation pressure and increased industrialisation,but attempts to re-allocate water rightsfrom low value agricultural production systemsto higher value crops or to other sectors can bedifficult to achieve.Across England and Wales agriculture uses 1.1percent of all water consumed, but in some areasat peak times of the year, it accounts for up to 70percent of total abstraction. It seems reasonableto predict that agriculture will find itself having tojustify high water consumption against competingdemands as the EU Water Framework Directivecomes into effect.Any successful method of water allocationand management must be based on the naturalhydrological system, the river basin, and inEngland the Environment Agency has powers tobuy out irrigation rights where they are consideredunsustainable. This means that as competingdemands for water increase, agriculture will beforced to concede some of its water rights, andfarmers will be forced to adopt more efficientmethods of irrigation.Number crunchingBy 2025 an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in water scarce areas.We use between 65 and 70 percent of the world’s abstractedwater to grow food for the planet – around 200 million litres ofwater per second. People living in rich countries eat around 5,000 litres of‘embedded’ water per day, while those in poor regions subsist on 1,000.A vegetarian consumes around 2,000 litres of water per day and ameat-eater clocks up 5,000 litres. A pork chop accounts for 2,000 litresof embedded water, and a portion of green beans from Kenya around 80litres. A portion of rice contains 100 litres and, if you wash your mealdown with a glass of milk, that adds another 1,000 litres.Wenonah HauterIndustrialised agriculture abuses waterresources through a cycle ofoveruse, waste, and pollution. Irrigationaccounts for 65 to 70 percent of worldwater use. In the United States, over 100trillion litres are used annually toirrigate cropland and, in the 18 statesdependant on irrigation, 70 percentof stream and river water is depleted.One of the largest aquifers in the world,the Ogallala, which underlies eight states,has been seriously depleted by irrigationand may be dry in 25 years.Factory farms that raise animals depleteand pollute water. Each cow in a dairyfactory uses 682 litres of water perday. A 10,000 animal hog factory uses189,250 litres of water each day – just fordrinking. Factory farms depend on theavailability of cheap corn, a very thirstycrop that requires the heavy use ofpolluting herbicides and fertilisers. Oneacre of corn requires 1,892,500 litres ofwater and a pound of meat produced by acorn-fed animal requires approximately5,677 litres of water.We need farm policies to supportfamily-operated, diverse farms thatprovide food locally and regionally.This means not only removing thesubsidies that benefit multinationalcorporations that want cheap commodities,but also reinstating policies thatstop the overproduction of crops.Consumers can help the planet andimprove their health by choosing to eatfoods grown as locally as possible and byeating low on the food chain.Wenonah Hauter is executive directorof Food and Water Watch, a non-profitconsumer organisation that worksto ensure clean water and safe food.www.foodandwaterwatch.orgLiz Barlingwww.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 2 Issue 4 | www.foodethicscouncil.org Winter 2007 11 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 11


Is our food too thirsty?The big questionJeff RookerWhile there is no denying that the production and processesinvolved in getting food from the farm to the plate consume largeamounts of water, it is important to remember that as well asthe use of water for crop irrigation and livestock husbandry, asignificant amount of water is also used in the cleaning, handlingand manufacturing of food products.But, it would be wrong to focus on a single issue, such aswater, when what we want to do is improve the overallsustainability of the food chain, and reduce the largest impactswhere they occur. For some food products, water may be thelargest impact and one we need to focus on, but there are a rangeof other environmental impacts to consider.The Food Chain programme has been set up by Defra toidentify and reduce the impacts of the food we produce andconsume in the UK, including on water and greenhouse gases.Additionally, following the publication of the Food IndustrySustainability Strategy, the food industry announced apartnership initiative led by the Food and Drink Federation, withthe Government funded Envirowise programme, which aims toreduce water usage by 20 percent by 2020 from a 2007 baseline.Lord Rooker is the UK governmentminister for Sustainable Food,Farming & Animal Health.www.defra.gov.ukMaite Aldayaand Ramón LlamasYes. Globally, more water is used infood production than in other sectors,accounting for 70 percent of freshwateruse, and an even higher percentage inarid and semi arid countries. But eventhough water resources are unevenlydistributed and, in someregions precipitation and droughtconditions are increasing, the crisis isone of water governance rather thanwater scarcity.Today, most water experts admit thatpressures on water are mainly due to poorwater management, corruption, lack ofinstitutions, bureaucratic inertia or lowinvestment. This problem affects richindustrialised and poor developingcountries alike, but it is usually the poorwho suffer most.Scientific and technological advances in thelast half century, however, have producedtools to solve many water related problemsthat a few decades ago seemed unthinkable.Desalination can turn salt waterinto fresh water suitable forurban supply; virtual water, embedded inagricultural commodities can be‘exported’ from water rich countries toirrigation based poor economies,encouraged by the low cost and speed offood distribution; and cheap and easygroundwater abstraction – the silentrevolution – has produced great socialeconomic benefits, providing drinkingwater and reducing hunger, espcially among the poor. Theseadvances are helping to ensure globalwater supply and water-dependant foodsecurity.We have enough fresh water to producefood for the global population now – andin the future. But world leaders must takeaction now by embracing transparency,removing perverse subsidies and makingWTO agreements fairer.Maite M. Aldaya, PhD in Ecology and MScin the London School of Economics,is a researcher on Water Footprint atthe Complutense University of Madrid.www.lse.ac.ukRamón Llamas is a professor emeritus ofhydrogeology and former presidentof the International Association ofHydrogeologists and Chair of the NaturalSciences Section of theSpanishRoyal Academy of Sciences.tinyurl.com/2umw5w12 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Nick ReevesI was spooked by a UN report I read the other day – it seems thatglobal crop production is not keeping pace with population growth.By 2050 there will be roughly nine billion souls in the world. To feedand water them, and meet our millennium development goal onhunger (to halve the proportion of hungry people) we would have toincrease world food production by 100 percent.The fact is, unless we reverse population growth, and cut waste,overeating, bio-fuels and meat consumption, demand for cereal cropscould rise to three times the current level.We will also have to double water use on crops by 2050. Butwater scarcity is acute in many parts of the world, and farming takesthe lion’s share from rivers, streams and groundwater, so where willthis extra water capacity come from?Water waste and embedded water in food is rising. Tenpercent of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the sea all yearround. Water scarcity is a worldwide problem exacerbated by aconsumer culture of buying what we want, not what we need.An estimated 1.8 billion people will live in regions with absolutewater scarcity by 2025, and two-thirds of the world population mightsuffer water stress. Water wars could escalate into global conflict.Climate change will see rainfall decline most in places in greatest need ofwater. So how, unless there’s a sudden decline in carbon emissions (orpopulation), are we going to feed the people of the world?Lyla MehtaNick Reeves is Executive Director of the CharteredInstitution of Water and Environmental Management(CIWEM) and a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv).www.ciwem.orgPerhaps, when you look at how diets havechanged. Meat, milk products, sugar, oils and exoticvegetables require more water and differentmanagement practices than staple crops andcereals. Urbanisation and lifestyle changes willincrease demand for water-hungry food.Agriculture already uses 70 percent of the world’swater. Population increases, pollution, depletionof river and groundwater resources, closed riverbasins, impacts of climate change and competitionbetween farmers, cities, industry and nature allexacerbate access to water for food.However, there is enough water and foodto go around our planet. The UN’s Food andAgriculture Organisation data reveal a surplus offood, rather than a shortage, in relation to total globalpopulation. And sociological and political attentionto realities on the ground almost always attributeswater shortage not to absolute or physical scarcity,but to socially-generated scarcity arising fromimbalances of power denying people access towater. These include: unequal gender relations,ethnic and racial discrimination, ill-defined waterrights and unequal access to land and resources.Water scarcity is a multifaceted phenomenonand solutions cannot be simplistic. Governmentsand policy makers have historically focused onlarge-scale irrigation, which despite benefits, hashigh environmental and social costs. Attentionshould be turned to rainfed areas, where mostpoor people grow food, and to increasing theproductivity of water used in crop, aquacultureand livestock systems to reduce ‘blue’ and ‘green’water needs. Water justice is required for theworld’s marginalised and poor and we can also cutour consumption of water-hungry foodMíkelGonzález AtekaYes. In the province of Malaga, in the south of Spain, andmore specifically in the valley of the Guadalhorce, whereI live, we are in the third year of an intense drought. Infact, it has not rained in a whole year. Our valley hasapproximately 10,000 ha, of irrigated land and the cropsgrown there – mainly citrus fruits – have only receivedsix irrigations in the last three years. The upshot of this isthat a vast number of trees have died, condemning localfarmers to abandon their livelihoods. In areas with greaterwater availability than ours, over-use is leading to aquifersbecoming salty and useless.Our regional agriculture of olive, almond and citrustrees, is suffering badly, with yields reducing by as muchas 50 percent. Meanwhile, in and around the Costa delSol, there are more than 50 golf courses, thousands ofhectares of gardens, and massive consumption by theinhabitants – residents and tourists – of the region.Between them they consume almost 500 litres of waterper person per day.In effect, there is water for the tourist industry butnot food production. The Spanish government and ourcitizens urgently need to decide whether our water shouldbe used to maintain a tourist industry that is alreadythreatened by the world economic crisis, or for foodproduction in one of the best agrarian zones of the planet.I know which I’d choose.Míkel González Ateka farms organicvegetables and olive trees insouthern Spain, and campaigns onfood issues including food sovereignty.He is married with two children.Lyla Mehta is a ResearchFellow at the Institute ofDevelopment Studies at theUniversity of Sussex and theauthor of The Politics andPoetics of Water.www.ids.ac.ukwww.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 13


Is our food too thirsty?The big questionJohan RockströmFood production is one of the world’slargest freshwater-consuming economicsectors. An adult on an adequate dietconsumes around 1,300 m3 per year,equivalent to over 3,000 litres a day.Conventional wisdom has agricultureconsuming 70 percent of the world’sfreshwater withdrawals. That ‘wisdom’only looks at a small portion of thetotal freshwater used for economicbiomass production (for food, timber,fodder and fibre); namely the use ofwater for irrigation. Yes, it does causemajor problems, with rivers runningdry, leaving less freshwater to sustaindownstream cities and aquaticecosystems. However, “blue” wateractually only amounts to afraction of global water use for food.The bulk of global food (60 – 70percent) is produced using “green” water(infiltrated rainfall, forming soil moisturein the root zone, on its way to evapotranspirein support of biomass growth).Our estimates show that global bluewater consumption in irrigation isapproximately 1,800 km3/yr, whilerainfed agriculture consumes around5,000 km3 per year. This throws newlight on future options available to feeda rapidly growing world population.With fewer options to increase bluewater use for irrigation, there isincreasing evidence of large untappedwater potentials in rainfed farmingsystems, particularly in developing countries,where there is the biggest need.We need to focus on increasingproductivity of agricultural land (but notat the expense of ecosystem functions),and emphasise agricultural and waterproductivity in rainfed agriculture. If thissucceeds, we can avoid a future withcontinued unsustainable exploitation ofwater for food.Johan Rockström, PhD, Associate Professor inNatural Resources Management, is ExecutiveDirector of the Stockholm EnvironmentInstitute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.www.stockholmresilience.su.seDavid MoldenYes and No. Our food is too thirsty in wealthycountries but, in many parts of world, hungrypeople desperately need more water.It takes between 500 and 2,000 litres of waterto produce a kilogram of wheat, depending onproduction practices. When grains are fed toanimals for meat, milk and eggs, the amount ofwater required for food production increasessubstantially.A vegetarian diet is much less waterintensive (closer to 2,000 litres per person per day)than one dependent on grain-fed meat(up to 5,000 litres per person per day),but there is an increasing desire for meatproducts in the world’s growing economies.Consequently, in many of the world’s breadbaskets,there simply is not enough water to go around.The Colorado, Murray-Darling, Indus, Nile andYellow Rivers are but a trickle when theyreach the sea. Competition and inequitiesin water use abound. Wealthier countriesmust encourage water-efficient foodhabits through education, and food andwater policies. There is an urgent need foreconomic incentives to grow more foodwith less water, and reduce the food wastebetween farm and fork that leads to astronomicalwater wastage.In sharp contrast, many of the 800 millionundernourished people are thirsty for morewater for more food. Over 1.4 billion peoplelive in areas of economic scarcity, requiringpolicies and investments in water infrastructure(small and large), technologies and institutions formore water.David Molden is DeputyDirector General for Researchat the International WaterManagement Institute andrecently led production ofWater for Food, Waterfor Life: a ComprehensiveAssessment of WaterManagement in Agriculture.www.iwmi.org14 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Responding to water scarcityAgriculture accounts for 70 percent of globalfreshwater abstraction. 1 In the comingdecades around two-thirds of the world’spopulation will face water scarcity driven bythe physical availability of water set againstregional population growth. 2 Climatechange will exacerbate droughts, testingour resilience and agricultural adaptability.Water scarcity is also ‘structural’, affectingeconomic resilience to malnutrition.Lack of knowledge concerning waterresources and their sustainable use,misappropriation and inefficient use of waterresources, and the ability to pay for watermean that millions will lack access to cleanfreshwater for domestic and agriculturalneeds. A global trade in ‘virtual’ water,embedded in crops and livestock, has soughtto balance spatial and temporal inequalitiesbetween water distributions and people, butthe FAO estimate that 40 thousand peopledie every day from malnutrition relateddiseases.Technological solutions for meeting waterdemands are as old as civilisation, and ourhydro-engineering ambitions have increasedalongside our demand for food. In the 20thcentury, a six-fold increase in water demandwas met by mega-dams and water transfersthat have re-plumbed the planet, divertingwater to fields and cities. Hardly a greatriver remains untapped and boreholes havebeen sunk deep into ancient aquifers. Nowthough, food prices are increasing alongsiderecord agricultural production that is outpacingpopulation growth. A recent UKCabinet Office report attributes this to threefactors. 3First, biofuel production competes with foodfor agricultural water. In 2007, one-third ofall US maize was grown for biofuels with 15percent year-on-year growth projected inthe near-future. Second, people in rapidlydeveloping Asian economies are consumingmore meat. Kilo-for-kilo a meat-rich dietrequires twice the embedded water ofa meat-poor diet. In China average percapita meat consumption has doubled inthe last 20 years. Third, agricultural policychanges (for instance. EU CAP reforms)have reduced cereal stocks, pushing moreland into production, diverting more waterfor irrigation.TechnologyCan desalted water feed the world?At face-value, desalination (the processof abstracting freshwater from seawater,brackish groundwater and domestic wastewater) offers a technological fix for feedingourselves in the 21st century. Our oceanscontain 97 percent of the Earth’s water so,in theory, as long as the value of water-basedgoods and services produced using desaltedwater exceeds the costs of production,desalination can be considered economicallysustainable. This is the case in many parts ofthe Middle East. Kuwait receives the majorityof its water from thermal desalinationfacilities. And water poor islands such asLanzarote have seen their tourism industryflourish thanks to desalination.Recent advances in reverse osmosis (RO)technology, economies of scale and energyrecovery systems have dramatically reducedthe operational costs of desalination. It is thehot topic around the globe, with desalinationcapacity expected to at least double over thenext 20 years.Spain plans 21 new desalination facilities,Perth is building the world’s largest renewableenergy desalination facility, South Africa isexperimenting with nuclear desalination.Even London, faced with a repeat ofstructural water shortages in 2006 andanticipated population growth in southeastEngland, plans a desalination facility on theThames Estuary.The advantages are clear: desalinationprovides hydro-independence from theenvironment and independence fromclimatic uncertainty. With careful regulationit offers the opportunity to recover andrestore over-abstracted rivers and wetlandsand their fragile habitats. If it can irrigatethe world’s fields and greenhouses, could itfulfil the UN’s millennium goal to providefood security for all while safeguarding theenvironment?Desalination alone is not the answer. Despitehuge technological advances, desalted wateris very expensive at approximately $0.5/m3.Energy requirements set against rising oilcosts and the cost of brine and anti-foulantdisposal means that, unless subsidised,desalted water will remain too expensivefor agricultural use and be irrelevant topoor farmers. Desalted water will alwaysStuart Downwardbe sold to those who are willing to pay thehighest prices. And with the world’s urbanpopulation exceeding rural populations, ourcities will out-bid agricultural users of waterfor all but the highest value crops.Europe’s largest RO desalination facilityat Carboneras in Spain was planned tosupply much-needed water to horticulturalfarmers. But farmers continue to plumbover-abstracted aquifers, because thedesalted water pipelines follow the coast,supplying water to booming coastal propertydevelopments and water intensive golfresorts. Plans are afoot to fill water tankersdestined for the drought ridden city ofBarcelona. 4Desalination must be part of an integratedand regulated regional water resourcemanagement strategy that addresses waterdemands and water supply. This must includefull-cost recovery and subsidy transparencyto encourage water savings. Urban consumersof desalted water will return large quantitiesof ‘waste’ water back to the environment thatcould be reused for agriculture. For example,Almería in Spain receives a proportion ofits water from desalination. The city’s wastewater is collected, ‘cleaned’ and re-used forhorticultural and citrus production in theAndarax valley north-east of the city.Regulation must ensure that farmers don’tdesalt brackish groundwater that cannotbe sustainably recharged or dilute poorquality groundwater with high qualitydesalted water to obtain an acceptable mix.This would only increase over-abstraction.Energy requirements must be evaluatedso that potential environmental gains arenot outweighed by undue increases ingreenhouse gas emissions. Desalination willnot solve world hunger, but if planned andmanaged wisely it can help.Stuart Downward is a seniorlecturer in the School of EarthSciences and Geography atKingston University, Surrey.s.downward@kingston.ac.uk1Qadir, M et al. (2007) Agricultural WaterManagement, 87, 2-22.2Rijsberman, F.R. (2006) Agricultural WaterManagement, 80, 5-22.3Cabinet Office (2008) Food: an analysis of the issues.www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk4ABC.es (2008). www.abc.es. 17 January 2008.www.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 15


Responding to water scarcityMike AcremanPolicyAgriculture needs ecosystems, ecosystems need waterWater is essential for all life on Earth.Our success as a species relies on ourability to store and use water for drinking,growing food, driving industrial processes,harnessing its ability to generate power, andfighting against natural hazards, includingfloods and droughts.But clean water is in short supply in manyparts of the world and becoming increasinglyscarce as populations grow, water suppliesbecome polluted and our climate varies.Water management has become vital forfuture human welfare and development.A key aspect of water management is itsallocation between different users: waterfor direct human needs, agriculture,industry, and power generation. And, ina footnote added by water managers inrecent years, we also need water for theenvironment. This presents water allocationas a conflict – choosing water for people orthe environment.International initiatives over the past20 years, kick-started by the BruntlandReport, Our Common Future, and the RioConference in 1992, have marked a turningpoint in modern thinking. They recognisethat ecological processes keep the planetfit for life, providing food, air to breathe,medicines, and quality of life. So, whilepeople need direct access to water to drink,grow crops and drive industry, providingwater to the environment means using waterindirectly for people, ensuring economicand social security as well as ethical security,by upholding the rights of people and otherspecies to water.That is why the governments of the UnitedNations have made an ethical commitmentto the environment in the form of theWorld Charter for Nature, and why centralto Agenda 21 and Caring for the Earth(IUCN/UNEP/WWF, 1991) is the premisethat people’s lives and the environment areprofoundly inter-linked.This fundamental concept has permeatedall aspects of water resource management.The new water law of South Africa statesthat: “the quantity, quality and reliability ofwater required to maintain the ecologicalfunctions on which humans depend shallbe reserved so that the human use ofwater does not individually or cumulativelycompromise the long term sustainability ofaquatic and associated ecosystems”. Othercountries have followed suit, includingTanzania and Costa Rica. The EU’s WaterFramework Directive has a similarphilosophy, requiring member states toachieve Good Ecological Status in all waterbodies (rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuariesand coastal zones).In the early 1990s, the economic senseof ensuring sufficient water for theenvironment was demonstrated by researchby Barbier et al. 1 This showed that the neteconomic benefits of the natural floodplainwetlands in northern Nigeria (floodrecession agriculture, fishing, herding andfuelwood collection) were as high as US$32 per 1000 m3 of water (at 1989 exchangerates), but the returns from the cropsgrown on the intensive irrigation scheme(the Kano river project) were much lowerat US$ 0.15 per 1000 m3. And when youinclude operational costs, this drops to onlyUS$ 0.0026 per 1000 m3!Going a step further, Costanza et al.calculated the economic value of 17ecosystem services for 16 biomes. 2 Theyused these estimates to determine a valueof US$16-54 trillion per year (with anaverage of US$33 trillion per year) for thevalue of the entire biosphere – almost twicethe global national product total of US$18trillion. Traditional calculation of GNPdoes not include the costs and benefitsof ecosystem services, which contributesignificantly to human welfare.Water allocation cannot be assessedpurely in economic terms. 3 Many of thepoorest people of the world live directly onresources provided by natural ecosystems.Development of the Senegal river basinin west Africa has focused on watermanagement (through dam construction)to provide water for hydropower generation,river navigation and intensive irrigation.But dam operations have seriously degradednatural wetland ecosystems along the rivervalley and at its mouth. The winners of thewater allocation decisions are the urbanelite in Senegal, Mauritania and Mali, witha secure electricity supply and cheaper food;the losers are the rural poor who depend onfishing and extensive livestock grazing onnaturally flooded wetlands, but have noaccess to electric power.As our population grows, increasing foodproductivity is essential for human survival.Allocating more water to agriculture mayhelp in the short term, but will lead to lossof ecosystem services. Instead, research isnow focused on ‘more crop per drop’ andresponding to ecosystems’ water needs, sobetter water allocation decisions are made,achieving the optimum total benefits ofavailable water.Integrated water resources management(IWRM) is central to all sustainable waterdevelopment efforts, from the EU WaterFramework Directive to the MillenniumDevelopment Goals. IWRM involves makingthe right decisions about water allocation byviewing the whole picture. There is growingawareness of the economic, social andethical imperatives that make allocationof adequate water for the environmentcritical to the way forward. We may evensee consumers choosing food partly onthe basis of its water use and associatedecosystem degradation footprint.Professor Mike Acremanis a senior scientist atthe Centre for Ecology& Hydrology, the UK’sCentre of Excellencefor research in the landand freshwaterenvironmental sciences.man@ceh.ac.uk1 Barbier, EB et al. (1991) DP 91-02. IIED, London.2 Costanza, R et al. (1997) Nature 387: 253-260.3 Acreman, MC (2001) Water Policy Journal3(3): 257-265.16 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Responding to water scarcityBusinessBeyond ‘water footprints’ and ‘efficiency’Stuart OrrIt is widely accepted that economic growth,changing diets, a growing shift towardurbanisation, increased population andthe unknown effects of climate changewill place acute strains on global waterresources in coming years. This increasein global freshwater demand will manifestitself on a number of levels. At a sociallevel, the already insufficient allocationand availability of clean water will continueto hamper development progress. At anecosystem level, significant problemsof over-abstraction and pollution willincrease, leading to a reduction in the vitalservices that freshwater systems providefor humanity.Water is already a critical issue in manycountries. Companies are not the causeof all these problems, nor can the privatesector be expected to solve them all. Yet,as companies begin to recognise water asvital to their business models, many havealready begun the journey of establishingjust how much water they use, monitoringwhere water is withdrawn, and assessingthe impacts associated with their waterintensive activities.Depending on the nature of the end productand the sheer scale of their operations, thewater intensive requirements of food andagricultural production pose significantrisks for companies to monitor andredress. Over the last few years there havebeen an increasing number of conflictsover businesses’ social licence to operate,particularly in areas where acute socialhousing and environmental problems exist.There is every reason to believe this trendwill intensify in the future.Measuring just how much water is used hasbeen made easier by the recent emergenceof ‘water footprints’. Water footprintscalculate the water use of consumption andproduction activities through estimatesof the water used for growing crops. Thisbegan as a measure of human water usethrough the products we consume, suchas 8,000 litres to produce 1 kg of cottonlint, or 3,000 litres for 1 kg of rice. Thisapproach has also been tested out at thenational level where, for example, theaverage water footprint of a UK citizen hasbeen calculated at 3,850 litres per capitaper day. This includes the amount of waterevaporated (3,700 litres) through cropgrowth for agricultural products and thedirect household water use (150 litres) ofthe average UK citizen.Water footprints for business are a newconcept and are designed to estimate totalwater use in a business operation at bothdirect (factory and processing) and indirect(supply-chain) levels. They will also, likeindividual or country studies, differentiateblue (withdrawn) water and green (soilmoisture) water, and water that returnspolluted to water systems.The majority of water in most businessprofiles is more likely to be found in supplychains, through water needed for cropgrowth. It is here that water footprintmeasurements will need to take into thespecific requirements of location andclimate and, over time, account for theimpact of water abstraction on the localenvironment.It is hoped that company action willinvolve supporting partners, sharingbest practice and the implementationof water management systems throughtheir operations. Some companies haveresponded through the promotion ofgood water ‘citizenship’ projects in thewatersheds and communities where theyoperate. For example, Coca-Cola haspledged to ‘replenish’ its direct water usethrough water efficiency and waste watertargets, watershed management and act onsupply chain issues.Other companies are following suit andbecoming increasingly engaged in ‘legacy’projects in areas where they work. Similarly,organisations like the World BusinessCouncil for Sustainable Development(WBCSD) have been championing waterissues for some time and have producedscenarios for business and future watersupply. There has also been a recent initiativeby the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) inthe UK whereby more than 20 major foodand drink brands have pledged to cut theirwater usage and improve energy efficiency.While these efforts should be seen aspositive, to evaluate them properly we needto grasp how water moves through theenvironment. A cubic metre of water takenfrom one catchment may not have the sameimpacts as the same amount taken fromanother catchment. From this perspective,community engagement and pledges to‘put water back’ into the environment arefraught with complexity.Just how long and how far can specificcompanies and projects take credit for theiractivities? It is also hard to know how wellwater will lend itself to off-setting, but thisand other avenues are being explored. Thesecomplexities will not prevent companiesfrom becoming more engaged in communitywork, but it does raise real questions aboutthe purpose of those activities and whetheror not they will actually lead to sustainablewater management and reduce the riskswhich initially caused business to act.More likely, businesses will move beyondthe footprint of their own operations andinstead engage with others in their sectorand the wider policy environment to bringabout security through legislation andContinued on next page...Stuart Orr is a freshwaterpolicy officer with WWF-UK.His particular interests are inbusiness engagements aroundwater, standards and metrics,and links to field programmework around environmentalflow and better watermanagement structuressorr@wwf.org.ukwww.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 17


Responding to water scarcitymanagement. The only real way to assuagebusiness risk from water use is to supportreforms and policies that are requiredbeyond the companies’ front doors. Thealternative is to cut and run from the mostwater-stressed regions, and only sourceproducts from areas where the availabilityof water softens the impact of heavywater use.In some cases this may be a suitable strategybut just spreading risks will only put off theinevitable. A cut and run response would doconsiderable harm to workers in production.A better approach would involve managedconversion to more sustainable production,perhaps through more appropriate products,so that production could continue to benefitcommunities while reducing associatedenvironmental impacts.And where do consumers fit into all of this?The consumer role in addressing the globalwater crisis is difficult to predict, but it isunlikely that the complexity of water issuescan be explained to consumers throughlabels or in other ways that differentiateproduct lines. Of course, some consumerswill be able to navigate the issue andmake informed choices, but can businessreally wait for financial returns throughsingle product lines to reduce their risks?And can this happen at the scale that isrequired? I doubt it, mainly because thelargest business risks are at the productionend, and it is here, where water is takenfrom often fragile social environments,that reputations will be tested. It is morelikely that differentiation on water issueswill be promoted at the level of communityengagement and the ‘water wars’ betweenretailers will be fought through their publiccommitments to reduce and engage.All attempts by business to engage incommunity work to reduce water use shouldbe applauded and incentivised, as shouldsimilar efforts across certain industriesto work in partnership to reduce adverseimpacts. But businesses need to be awarethat these efforts are literally a drop in theocean if supply chains are not factored intothe equation, and will also prove pointlessif support for water management outsideof their own operations is not also part oftheir strategy.As water issues begin to rise up the politicalagenda, everything that water users do iscoming under greater scrutiny. How farbusiness will be willing to move beyond‘footprints’ or ‘efficiency’ is still unknown,but the signs are that water is far tooimportant to remain just a corporate socialresponsibility (CSR) issue.Water scarcity is an issue that requiresmore than just reducing individual wateruse, and must lead to more effectivebusiness support of water managementglobally. This could be an uncomfortableplace for business, a policy arena where thebenefits may not seem so obvious; yet theconsequences of getting water wrong areprofound. The planet cannot add another3 billion people while confronting theeffects of climate change and maintainthe freshwater ecosystems on which we alldepend, without businesses taking a moreactive role in sorting out their own andeveryone else’s water needs.NEW FOOD BOOKS FROMBite MeFood in Popular CultureFabio ParasecoliBite Me considers the waysin which popular culturereveals our relationship withfood and our bodies and howthese have become an arenafor political and ideologicalbattles.SEPTEMBER 2008PB 978 1 84520 761 8£16.99Culinary Art andAnthropologyJoy AdaponCulinary Art and Anthropologyoffers a sensual, theoreticallysophisticated model for understandingfood anthropologically.Includes recipes forMexican cooking.AUGUST 2008PB 978 1 84788 212 7£19.99ReconnectingConsumers,Producers and FoodExploring ‘Alternatives’Moya Kneafsey, Lewis Holloway,Laura Venn, Elizabeth Dowler, RosieCox and Helena TuomainenA detailed and empiricallygrounded account of alternativesto current models of foodprovision.SEPTEMBER 2008PB 978 1 84520 253 8£19.99order online at www.bergpublishers.comFood andGlobalizationConsumption, Marketsand Politics in the ModernWorldEdited by Alexander Nützenadeland Frank TrentmannThis wide-ranging bookprovides an overview of therelationship between foodand globalization in themodern world.MAY 2008PB 978 1 84520 679 6£19.9918 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Water and powerCan we achieve global water equity?WORLDVIEWMaria Arce MoreiraMaria Arce Moreira isPolicy Adviser atPractical Action andco-chair of thedevelopment andEnvironment group ofBOND, the UK’sbroadest network ofvoluntary organisationsworking in internationaldevelopment.maria.arce@practicalaction.org.ukater always tends to flow towardspower” a South African woman“Wactivist said, reflecting thereality of over 1 billion poor people worldwidewithout access to safe drinking water. This isdespite international recognition of the humanright to water as indispensable for leading alife of human dignity. 1 The multiple and oftenconflicting uses of water for drinking, food,energy and recreational purposes, among others,often restrict access to those who need it most,and can affect their ability to produce food andtheir human right to feed themselves. 2The current development model has exacerbatedconsumption patterns. Value is ascribed to usingwater that can be successfully traded, in ways thatpromote economic growth rather than to produceproducts that provide basic water and food needs.This power imbalance ultimately defines howwater is used and who benefits most from it.Water is needed to produce local and importedfood products but the impacts, risks and benefitsare substantially different depending where theproducer and consumer are located and whatpower each has. It is estimated that it takes 1,000litres of water to produce one kilogram of wheatand five to 10 times more water for meat.The demand for water is rising steadily withpopulation growth and with increasing demandfor processed products and consumer goods: itis estimated that demand may triple in the next30 years. At the same time, purchasing power anddemand define what is available, and a significantamount of staple foods imported into the UK andother wealthy countries are produced in developingcountries. Running through all these transactionsis a powerful and silent trade of water resourcesthat remains conveniently invisible.The virtual water flows included in food productsare estimated to be 700-1,100 km3 per yearand are expected to more than double if tradeliberalisation continues. Wealthy countries – evenif they are water rich – benefit from this situationwithout question or remorse. The trade in virtualwater theoretically gives advantages in terms ofefficiency and water security. But efficiency doesnot often translate into increased equity andfairness.Demand from affluent markets createsopportunities for some, but the demands ofpoor households and peasant farmers for accessto sufficient water for domestic and agriculturaluse tend to be ignored against the impressivepower that corporations, the market andwealthy consumers have in the allocation of thisincreasingly scarce, but profitable, resource.There is growing concern that the production ofagrofuels for export – to mitigate against climatechange – will have a detrimental impact on waterresources in developing countries. And climatechange could also shift the distribution of worldfood production by increasing the risks andreducing the productivity of developing countryagriculture, making them more dependent onfood imports from other countries. In bothcases, the balance seems to favour the interestsand needs of the powerful rather than ensuringa sustainable use of water resources to benefitthe poor.Increasingly, urban elites in developingcountries are replicating consumption patternsof the industrialised world, leading to increasedwater use, the marginalisation of small artisanproducers, and a loss of producer control.Communities sharing the ‘benefit’ of exportingcrops may find that profits are not divided equally,exacerbating processes of disempowerment andinequality. Poor female subsistence farmersmay find access to water denied because theproduction of export crops is prioritised.Even in industrialised nations, increasedsupply of a full variety of food products in thesupermarket has not necessarily translated intomore effective use of food or increased nutritionlevels. In fact, it has encouraged waste. In theUK alone, it is estimated that one third of food isthrown away. This problem is receiving increasedattention because of the methane gas emitted byrotting food in landfills and the increase in GHGemissions that this represents. But perhaps themore important question should be: does ourlifestyle and throw-away food culture representan infringement of the essential rights towater and food of others, especially the poor inproducing countries?The poor in developing countries are not alonein this silent crisis. Modern plant breedingand industrial food processing have developedways of increasing the water content of manyfruits, vegetables, meat products and processedfoods, reducing their nutritional value whilemaintaining profits. Low income groups inindustrialised nations choose those productsbecause of their competitive price, but thosechoices have a negative impact on their nutrition.In the end it is always the powerless and mostvulnerable who will suffer unless society acceptsthe challenge to transform the perverse marketbasedsystem that – through trade in realand virtual water – leads to water shortages,over-consumption and waste.1 General Comment 15 of ECOSOC.2 Article 11 of the International Covenanton Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.www.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 19


Glorious mudBetter soil management could help stop floods and droughtON THE FARMJohn TurnerJohn Turner is a farmernear Stamford inLincolnshire, where heruns a 100 hectare mixedfarm together with hisbrother and parents.He was a foundingmember of FARM.john.turner@farm.org.ukIn the same week that the flooded fields andvillages around Tewksbury once again madethe headlines, we found ourselves diggingholes for some new gateposts on the farm,and struggling to get a spade to penetrate thenear-concrete dryness of ground. Not that weescaped our fair share of the deluge. We toohad fields of standing water, but the patternof rainfall, where an entire month’s worthfalls in a matter of hours, means that surfacewater often drains away before it’s had time topenetrate through the soil profile.When flooding starts threatening homes (andthe insurance companies who provide theirsecurity) rather than just waterlogged cropsor stranded livestock, things start happening.Culprits are identified and hasty remediationschemes mobilised, often needing heftybudgets to support them.News reports laid the blame squarely at thedoors of climate change and – inevitably –‘intensive farming’. The ‘solutions’ served upto concerned viewers were largely confinedto creating flood plains on farmland to actas buffer reservoirs in times of peak waterflow, and improving weather forecasting –presumably to allow more time to pile thesandbags up against the door.It’s natural to consider how best to deal withthe symptoms, but we also need to understandthe causes and the changes that could be madeto alleviate these problems in the first place.From a farming perspective, one of the mostimportant factors affecting water drainageand water retention is soil organic matter.This sponge-like quality within soils providesaeration, acts as a reservoir for carbon and hasa host of other benefits.Yet outside farming circles (and surprisinglyoften within them as well), the relevance of soilorganic matter content appears to be largelyoverlooked. Many of the farming practicesadopted in the push for production duringthe years leading up to the Second WorldWar, and over the following four decades,contributed to a severe decline in the organicmatter within soils.To a large extent this decline has been masked,because plant nutrition has been provided bysynthetic inputs and growth regulators, whichensure that nutrients are directed towardsgrain production rather than plant growth.Modern agronomy means that, in a regimeapproaching hydroponics, soils can be usedas a medium for supporting crops, with the20 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.orggrower providing all nutrition, protectionand other forms of support. This approach isslowly becoming more enlightened, and theimportance of soil structure and maintainingorganic matter is beginning to be morewidely reflected in crop management plans,if not always in practice. Nevertheless, theprocess of rebuilding levels of organic matterin soils is incredibly slow, and it can takedecades to repair the damage of a few seasons’worth of bad practice.The lack of capacity within soils to retainmoisture not only causes problems in times oftoo much water. It also means that the marginbetween a surplus and a deficit of availablewater is reduced and drought can affect cropsswiftly.Last spring, we struggled with the wetweather when we were trying to prepare theseedbeds for the spring-sown barley, and wefinally managed to get them drilled by the endof March. By the end of April, we were alreadyseeing the signs of uneven germination dueto water shortage and had fields where nearlyhalf the crop finally emerged some six weeksafter the rest had germinated. This led to aharvest of considerable variation in ripenessand a similar variation in quality – a patternthat was repeated throughout much of thecountry.The farming system we follow is one of thosemost suited to improving soil organic mattercontent. Crop rotations are interspersed withgrass leys, and the root systems of red andwhite clover improve soil structure and addfurther organic matter. Worm populationsare high and they transfer organic manuresinto the soil profile. Cultivations are kept toa minimum and timed to retain nutrients andprevent the oxidisation of the precious organicmatter. And yet, after 10 years of followingthis farming system, the soil samples that wetake annually show improvements of only afraction of a percent per year.On the strength of this glacial rate of change,improving soil organic matter content is notthe sort of miracle solution that is goingto grab headlines or feature high on thepriority list of those concerned with floodcontrol or climate change. Nevertheless,spread over the area of farmed land we havein this country, even a fractional increasein organic matter content would have ahuge impact on our ability to absorb thechanging patterns of our weather and reallyought to provide the cornerstone of any modelof sustainable farming.


The Business PageNo future inbottled waterJeanette LongfieldOn the face of it, it seems ridiculous topropose that there’s no future in sellingbottled water. Some predict that the UKmarket will increase from £1.2 billion in2006 to £1.65 billion in 2010. In 2006, thecombined markets of Europe, the US andJapan was worth an estimated £16 billionand continues to rise.The market is being driven by severalpowerful trends. Some people, realisingthat sugary fizzy drinks are contributing toobesity, are turning to healthier alternativeslike calorie-free water. Others, particularlyyoung women, see branded bottled wateras a must-have fashion accessory. Andyet more are turning to bottled water asa convenient, lightweight, portable andattractively packaged alternative to itshumble cousin – tap water.But there are growing signs that our loveaffair with bottled water may be comingto an end. People are starting to notice thatplastic water bottles contribute an awful lotof waste to our already bulging bin bags.They are also spotting the absurdity ofwater being transported thousands of milesfrom Fiji when a home-grown version isavailable in their kitchen.And some are starting to feel distinctlyripped off by a bottled product that costs,at best, around 500 times more than itsmains-fed equivalent. This really sticks inyour throat when blind taste tests continueto show that most people can’t tell thedifference between bottled and tap water.A recent survey of 1,000 people publishedby the National Consumer Councilrevealed that 70 percent of respondentsthought bottled water was too expensive.But when ordering tap water at a restaurant,20 percent of respondents said they were‘too scared’ or ‘too nervous’ to ask for it,opting instead to purchase bottles of stillor sparkling water for up to £4 a bottle. 1 Awhopping 83 percent thought that tap watershould be offered by the waiter instead ofstill or sparkling water, and almost allrespondents thought that tap water shouldbe offered for free.Moreover, with climate change andcarbon footprints on everyone’s minds,people are beginning to understand thatproducts can do all kinds of damage tobiodiversity and livelihoods in poorcountries. The concept of “embeddedwater” is not yet common currency, buthow long will it be before people cottonon to the scandal that, in a water scarceworld, an estimated two litres of waterare used for every one litre purified andput into a plastic bottle? And making thatbottle took another seven litres of water.The UK government is becomingincreasingly sensitive to the accusationthat, while asking voters to ‘do their bit’for the environment, it is wasting largeamounts of their money on bottled water.In January 2007, when Sustain launchedits attack on the bottled water industry, 2the Food Standards Agency was keen tomake the following statement:“[We] will now provide tap water onrequest for all meetings held at AviationHouse and from January 2007 will also beable to provide mains-fed bottled waterin 70cl re-useable bottles. This latteroption will be chilled and bottled on thepremises. There will also be a facility tocarbonate water on site. This will replacethe current system of bought-in bottled(still and fizzy) water thereby saving onwaste (boxes), energy (transportation)and promote re-use of bottles.”A quick survey by Sustain at the timeshowed that, by contrast, the CabinetOffice, the House of Commons, theTreasury and the Departments for Healthall routinely served bottled water andsome agencies, such as Ofcom, wereunwilling to provide any information. Ournew report – just published – updates thissurvey and shows that most governmentdepartments are now “greening up” andturning on the tap - but still buying bottledwater as well.Food industry analysts Food Navigatorreported in January this year that Chicagohad imposed a five cent tax to discouragebottled water consumption. This followsa pattern set last year by New York’spublicity campaign for tap water (aspart of a programme to cut packagingwaste) and, best of all, San FranciscoMayor, Gavin Newson, has banned citydepartments from using public money tobuy bottled water.Canada and Australia are also sproutingtap water campaigns and, in the UK,Sustain is not alone in championing thiscause . But the bottled water industry isnot taking it lying down. One of theirmany responses is to ‘add value’ byincluding ingredients such as vitamins,minerals, and flavourings. Unfortunately,these ingredients often contain artificialsweeteners, and since health concernsaround them simply refuse to go away, itmakes this an unpromising escape routefor the bottled water industry.So is there a future for the bottledwater industry? I hope not. Once upona time, there used to be attractivedrinking fountains in public places. Forenvironmental reasons, and as part of arejuvenation of public space, it would bewonderful to see their return.Jeanette Longfield is the co-ordinator offood and farming charity Sustain: the alliancefor better food and farming. She is also amember of the Food Ethics Council.jeanette@sustainweb.org1 National Consumer Council (2007)Sustain's reportwww.ncc.org.uk/news_press/pr.php?recordID=36116 November.2 Sustain www.sustainweb.org/publications/info/152/www.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 21


“Cutting-edge analysis thatprompts real debate.”Zac Goldsmith, director ofThe Ecologist"...a welcome forum for a debatewe urgently need..."Professor Peter Singer, authorof EatingThink critically, keepinformed, subscribe today!Our offer to subscribersFour issues of Food EthicsCovering one major theme each quarter, the magazineis designed to be essential reading for anyone with an activeinterest in food and farming. Each issue includes analysis,debate, reviews and upcoming events. Subscribers receivethe magazine in print and can download it online.Free publicationsThe Food Ethics Council provides research and analysis topromote better food and farming. As a subscriber you willreceive free copies of any printed reports that we produce.To subscribe visit www.foodethicscouncil.orgor call us on 0845 345 8574.Alternatively, please fill and send the form below.I want to subscribe to Food EthicsNameOrganisationAddressTownPostcodeCountryE-mailPhoneWe will keep this information in a database as long as you subscribe.We will not pass your details to any third party without your permission.Annual subscription rates including 20% discount:Non-UK: please add £5 for postage to Europe, £10 for rest of the world£12 – unwaged£20 – individual£28 – non-profit/educational£76 – business (3 copies)20% offCard payment preferred – subscribe directly atwww.foodethicscouncil.org - Quote ‘Flyer’ for discountPlease return this form to:Food Ethics Council, 39 – 41 Surrey St., Brighton BN1 3PB UK✃ReviewsreadingFood: an analysis of the issues2008 | Cabinet OfficeThe first report from a cross-cuttingUK government project on foodpolicy. Light on narrative butmaking up for it with graphs,this collection of over 100 slideswill outlast its immediate purpose,which is to inform the project’sthinking on future policy.A wide and digestible snapshotof how we eat, where our foodcomes from and what lies on thehorizon. TMGoing global: key questions for the 21st centuryMichael Moynagh & Richard Worsley | 2008 | A & C BlackA fascinating exploration of some of the 21st Century’s burningquestions. Drawing on a wide range of academic research this bookinvestigates twelve global issues as diverse as the war on terror andclimate change, summarising our current position, assessing where weare going, and asking what the implications might be for the futurestability of our global community. EBHow to live a low-carbon lifeChris Goodall | 2007 | EarthscanA compelling plea to individuals to take action to reduce our globalcarbon output. Author Chris Goodall shows us that if we makechanges to our domestic energy use and consumer habits we canreduce our carbon emissions by 75 percent. This book is a must for peopleworried about the effects of global warming and determined to dosomething about it. EBHunger: a modern historyJames Vernon | 2007 | Harvard University PressA wide ranging account of the changing perceptions of hunger in the 19thand 20th centuries. This book is a detailed historical analysis of the socialand political responses to hunger and famine, ending with the birth of thewelfare state. EBTaste: the story of Britain through its cookingKate Colquhoun | 2007 | BloomsburyAn entertaining and well-researched history of British food and cooking,starting with the Roman invasion and bringing us up to date with 21stCentury microwave meals. Kate Colquhoun uses recipes and innovationsin food to explore the changing nature of Britain over the ages. EBThe future control of foodGeoff Tansey & Tasmin Rajotte | 2008 | EarthscanA guide to the opaque world of intellectual property, where unequalstruggles shape our food system decades into the future. Intellectualproperty rules are vitally important but rarely described with suchvitality. FEC member Geoff Tansey and Tasmin Rajotte from theQuaker International Affairs Programme bring the subject alive with thiscollection of plain-speaking insider analysis. TMThe justice of eatingSamuel Hauenstein Swan & Bapu Vaitla (eds.) | 2007 | ActionAgainst HungerUp close and personal, this book shows the brutality of living withhunger day in, day out in five countries in Africa. It shows why the rightto food, not just the right to survive famine conditions, must be centralto policy making north and south. It looks to build on the successes ofthose working to realise that right, and to tackle the imbalances in powerthat ensure hunger remains. GT22 Spring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org


Reviews eating outBy Clive BatesClive Bates isHead of theUN EnvironmentProgramme in Sudanbased in Khartoum,which is part ofUNEP’s Post-Conflictand Disastermanagement branch(postconflict.unep.ch)Magnet for aid workers, meeting place for stylishSudanese, and somewhere to read five-day oldcopies of the Financial Times; Ozone Café is amodern Khartoum institution.Ozone is an outdoor café located in a rare greenoasis in an otherwise noisy, brown and dusty city– there are gardens, and a large tree providesshade and atmosphere. The garden seating areahas three bakeries attached, making wholemealbread, ciabatta, croissants, sandwiches, cake andice-cream. Add in a rich, strong Arabica coffeeand plentiful mango, papaya and grapefruit juices,and you have a popular, relaxing escape from thefrenzy of Khartoum (where the driving attitude is‘Mad Max’ and the driving ability is ‘Mr. Bean’).Ozone caféKhartoum, SudanHow I rate itOverall ****Fairness ****Health *Animals ****Environment **Taste ****Ambience *****Value for money ***(maximum five stars)I opt for a cheese croissant, Mediterranean quiche,black coffee and grapefruit juice. The croissant isgorgeous: thick and stretchy, generously madewith butter and cheese and served slightly warm.The grapefruit juice is slightly ‘sangue’ and sour ina good way, and the staff know not add sugar bydefault (rare in Sudan). The quiche is very freshwith a light creamy filling and a generous layer ofroasted vegetables.No arguments about outdoor heaters here… weare in the middle of winter and it is a pleasant28 O C. If only Khartoum’s balmy winter mightlast…! The temperature will climb steadily fromnow, peaking at perhaps 50 O C in June/July. Atthis point all the advantages of an outdoor caféwould be lost in the blistering heat. Ozone hasan innovation to overcome this – outdoor airconditioning. The café’s perimeter is marked bya pipe through which a fine mist of water canbe sprayed over the seating area. The water isvaporised by the sun and hot air, and the water’slatent heat of evaporation drawn out of thesurrounding atmosphere, creating a cooling effectand keeping the business running profitably formost of the year.I’m breakfasting under a cloudless sky andreflecting on Sudan’s reputation as a dry country.That’s certainly true in much of Darfur, wherecommunities depend on groundwater andare vulnerable to low rainfall. But surprisinglyperhaps, Sudan overall has more water per headthan England – mainly because about 100 cubickilometres flow in each year from Ethiopia,Uganda, Kenya and other countries throughthe Nile.But even the mighty Nile may becomestretched beyond sustainable limits. TheNile basin covers 10 countries and the twodown-stream countries – Sudan and Egypt –could double in population by 2050. Upstreamenvironmental degradation, deforestation orpoorly designed dams cause siltation, algae blooms,flooding and erosion that affect the downstreamcountries.Take these underlying pressures and add in theinstability of climate change and the possibilitythat Southern Sudan will vote for independencefrom the North, thus creating a pivotal newcountry in the Nile basin, and you may reasonablyexpect some turbulence ahead.But for now, it’s a lovely weekend morning, we areneither short of water nor under water, and I’mconcentrating on the croissant and coffee.www.foodethicscouncil.org | Volume 3 Issue 1 | Spring 2008 23


forthcoming events1st Mar ‘084th Mar ‘084th Mar ‘084th Mar ‘084th Mar ‘0812th Mar ‘0817th - 19th Mar ‘0820th Mar ‘082nd Apr ‘082nd - 4th Apr ‘082nd Apr ‘086th - 9th Apr ‘088th - 9th Apr ‘088th - 9th Apr ‘0816th Apr ‘0817th - 18th Apr ‘0824th - 27th Apr ‘081st - 2nd May ‘0814th May ‘0822nd May ‘0828th - 30th May ‘083rd - 6th Jun ‘084th Jun ‘0811th - 13th Jun ‘0818th - 20th Jun ‘0819th - 22nd Jun ‘0825th - 27th Jun ‘082nd - 6th Jun ‘083rd Jul ‘0814th - 15th Jul ‘085th - 8th Sep ‘08Serving up Sustainability: Meeting the Demand for Food with ValuesSustain | www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=413 | London, UKFood Security: Are we Sleep-Walking into a Crisis?City University | eventsrsvp@city.ac.uk | London, UKCorporate Carbon FootprintingHaymarket Events | www.haymarketevents.com/conferences | London, UKFood Labelling PolicyWestminster Food & Nutrition Forum | www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk | London, UKServing up Sustainability: Where to Find, & How to Specify, Supplies of Sustainable FoodSustain | www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=413 | London, UKGreen Feast: Exploring the Multiple Meanings of Sustainable FoodLiving Rainforest & Elm Farm Research Centre | www.livingrainforest.org | Berkshire, UKOrganic Food & Farming Fit for the FutureColloquium of Organic Researchers | www.organicresearchers.com | Cirencester, UKServing up Sustainability: Standing Out from the CrowdSustain | www.sustainweb.org/page.php?id=413 | London, UKThe Business Response to Climate ChangeResurgence & Friends of the Earth | www.resurgence.org | London, UKFood Security & Environmental Change (includes FEC session)GECAFS | www.gecafs.org | Oxford, UKGreening the Greenhouse: Designing a Carbon Neutral FutureLiving Rainforest & Elm Farm Research Centre | www.livingrainforest.org | Berkshire, UKFood & Drink Expo 2008William Reed | www.foodanddrinkexpo.co.uk/index.php | Birmingham, UKWater Efficiency ConferenceWaterwise | www.waterwise.org.uk | Oxford, UKDieticians, Food & the WorldCommunity Nutrition Group | www.cnguk.org | Swanick, UKFood Ethics for IndustryFood & Drink Innovation Network with Food Ethics Council | www.fdin.co.uk | Birmingham, UKOrganic Agriculture & Climate ChangeIFOAM | www.ifoam.org/events | Clermont-Ferrand, FranceThe Real Food FestivalBrand Events Group | www.realfoodfestival.co.uk | London, UKFood Service Conference: The Challenges of Catering for the Ethical / Responsible ConsumerCCFRA | www.campden.co.uk | Chipping Camden, UKLivestock & Global Climate ChangeBSAS | www.bsas.org.uk | Hammamet, TunisiaEthical Trade & the Food IndustryCCFRA | www.campden.co.uk/training/train.htm | Chipping Camden, UKSustainable Consumption & Alternative Agri-food SystemsSEED Unit, Liège University | www.suscons.ulg.ac.be | Arlon, BelgiumThe Royal ShowRASE | www.royalshow.org.uk | Warwickshire, UKResilient Culinary CulturesAgriculture, Food & Human Values Society | www.afhvs.org | New Orleans, USASustainable IrrigationWessex Institute of Technology UK | www.wessex.ac.uk | Alicante, SpainIFOAM Organic World Congress: Cultivate the FutureIFOAM | www.ifoam.org/events | Modena, ItalyRoyal Highland ShowRoyal Highland Centre | www.royalhighlandshow.org | Edinburgh, UKInternational Scientific Conference on Agri-Food BusinessIAMO | www.iamo.de | Halle, GermanySustainable Agriculture for Food, Energy & IndustryICSA | www.sgp.hokudai.ac.jp/ICSA2008 | Sapporo, JapanRecent Advances in Animal Welfare ScienceUFAW | www.ufaw.org.uk | Birmingham, UKFood, Society & Public Health ConferenceBSA Food Study Group | www.food-study-group.org.uk | London, UKThe End of Rationality?ISA Forum on Sociology | www.isa-sociology.org/barcelona_2008 | Barcelona, SpainAutumn 2007 | Volume 2 Issue 3 | www.foodethicscouncil.orgSpring 2008 | Volume 3 Issue 1 | www.foodethicscouncil.org

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