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International Symposium on the use of nonconventional waters for achieving food security

Freshwater scarcity already affects every continent, and it is expected to intensify over time due to an increase in demand from all water users, a rise in population, a mismatch of water resources, and insufficient targeted investments in infrastructure. All these factors are exacerbated by climate change and erratic rainfall patterns. Agriculture is set to be most affected by water scarcity with impacts on food security in water scarce regions. UN-Water estimates indicate that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, and reducing water losses and re-diverting water to stressed regions will require large investments and the use of nonconventional waters. 

The global water community at large supports efforts in water-scarce countries and communities to go beyond the use of conventional water resources and plan for nonconventional water supplies. This support stems from the aim to narrow the water demand-supply gap; and to achieve specifically the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2 and 6, calling respectively, for achieving zero hunger and for achieving clean water and sanitation for all people by the year 2030. 

Attention is shifting to finding innovative solutions such as the use of nonconventional water resources including reclaimed wastewater, desalination, fog harvesting, and their associated technologies. Nonconventional water use requires changes in traditional water allocation frameworks, funding structures, water-quality standard-setting, regulatory frameworks, and institutional mandates. It requires effective and coordinated governance at all levels with integrated management and consistent policies aimed at economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental sustainability.  Water allocation plans should meet the needs of multiple water users while engaging stakeholders through a participatory process.  

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