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World Leaders, Scientists Gather In Stockholm For World Water Week; Researchers Warn Overconsumption Draining World's Water Supply

Some 2,500 officials, policymakers and scientists will gather this week at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) for the largest annual meeting on water development issues as the international community recognizes World Water Week, observed August 26-31, VOA News reports. According to the news service, this year’s theme is “water and food security” (DeCapua, 8/24). “Global leaders assembled … at the opening session of the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm called for substantial increases in public and private sector investment to reduce losses of food in the supply chain, enhance water efficiency in agriculture and curb consumer waste,” according to an SIWI press release (8/27).

In a study released at the conference on Sunday, water researcher Malik Falkenmark and colleagues warn “that meat consumption is currently draining the world’s water supplies at an alarming rate,” noting, “Excessive food waste, drought, and overconsumption are all to blame for water shortages, which are expected to increase worldwide in the years to come,” Examiner.com writes (Auber, 8/26). According to the Guardian, the researchers warn “the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.” The news service adds, “Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the U.N. prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years” (Vidal, 8/26).