Access to water in future a huge challenge, warns Hogan

Sustainable water management mus be at the very top of the political agenda, said European Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan.

Access to water in future a huge challenge, warns Hogan

He told an informal meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Malta that 2016 was the hottest year on record and a new high for the third year in a row.

“We are approaching this debate from a position of strength — namely the hard-won global consensus outlined in the COP21Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

“We have a strong impetus for action and a clear framework for moving ahead. But the challenge remains enormous.”

Noting the UN describes water as “a lifeline for humanity”, Mr Hogan said this is certainly the case in the context of delivering sustainable food security.

“As human populations continue to grow rapidly and economies expand, water resources are being depleted and polluted at an alarming rate,” he said.

Mr Hogan warned that water quality is deteriorating across Europe. Scarcity of water, which was typically affecting many southern EU member states, is now increasingly felt in many northern European regions, which limits water availability for the agricultural sector.

“In this context, it is not alone welcome but essential that the issues of water and agriculture receive growing attention in the international agenda,” he said.

Mr Hogan said he discussed this in January at the G20 meeting of agriculture ministers. The related declaration underlines that water is an essential production resource for agriculture and is therefore critical for feeding the growing world population.

He said the European Commission also recently published a staff working document on ‘Agriculture and Sustainable Water Management in the EU’.

Both documents not alone cover similar issues, but they also identify similar challenges which, together, they must address as a matter of urgency.

Mr Hogan invited the EU member state ministers to make full use of the wide range of existing policy tools to improve the availability and quality of water.

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