More food with less water: The role of efficiency gains, lifestyles, and trade:
Global food demand will strongly rise over the next decades, due to population growth, average income increases, and trends towards higher consumption of animal products. Agricultural and food production already account for 70 percent of total freshwater withdrawals in the world. In addition, future water demand from private households, industry and for environmental purposes will also rise.
Over the next 25 years global agricultural production has to be increased by about 40 percent, while reducing agricultural water use by 15–20 percent to avoid water scarcity. This can only be achieved through a smart combination of efficiency gains in agricultural production and irrigation, institutional and policy reforms, changes in dietary habits, and virtual water trade between nation states.
However, due to conflicting interests many of these options face serious barriers and water crises with global implications may still occur in many vulnerable regions.