Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute


Date of this Version


Document Type



Peter McCornick, Vladimir Smakhtin, Luna Bharati, Robyn Johnston, Matthew McCartney, Fraser Sugden, Floriane Clement, and Beverly McIntyre. 2013. Tackling Change: Future-Proofing Water, Agriculture, and Food Security in an Era of Climate Uncertainty. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute. 36 pp.

doi: 10.5337/2013.213


Copyright 2013 International Water Management Institute. Used by permission.


In 1950 the global population was just over 2.5 billion. Now, in 2013, it is around 7 billion. Although population growth is slowing, the world is projected to have around 9.6 billion inhabitants by 2050. Most of the population increase will be in developing countries where food is often scarce, and land and water are under pressure. To feed the global population in 2050 the world will have to produce more food without significantly expanding the area of cultivated land and, because of competition between a greater number of water users, with less freshwater. On top of land and water constraints, food producers face climatic and other changes which will affect food production.

There remains great uncertainty as to how climate change will affect any given locality, but it seems likely that it will have a profound effect on water resources. Projected rises in average temperature, more extreme temperatures, and changes in precipitation patterns are likely to alter the amounts and distribution of rainfall, ice and snow melt, soil moisture, and river and groundwater flows. Now and in the future, agriculture and food security depend on managing water—a finite resource, but variable in time and space.