Workshop on Globalization and Trade: Implications for Water and Food Security

April 18, 2005 | San José, Costa Rica

The issue of globalization and its potential impacts on water use and management practices has been basically ignored by the water profession so far. NAFTA already has had major impacts in terms of water use and water quality conditions in the Mexican cities that are located around the border with the United States due to increased manufacturing activities, and the consequent accelerated population growth. The end of the multi-fibre agreements in January 1, 2005, after some 40 years of existence, is likely to affect water quantity and quality issues through a series of secondary and tertiary impacts in several developing countries. The Doha Round of Trade Negotiations, which began in 2001, is likely to impact food and water security in many ways. Trade Liberalization will contribute to very significant shifts in agricultural production centres, which in turn will affect water and use and demand practices.

Globalization of ideas of water management is also having both beneficial and adverse impacts. For example, some of the water management practices that work very well in developed countries of temperate zones are unlikely to work efficiently in monsoon Asia. Yet, globalization of ideas is often ensuring that monsoon Asia uses same water management practices as the European countries of the temperate zone. Opening of the rice market in Japan is likely to have increasing impacts of the existing flood management practices in the Kanto plain.

The workshop brought together leading world experts to assess the major risks and opportunities for water and food security due to globalization, attempt to quantity these impacts, propose a realistic agenda for future research, and formulate initial policy responses for decision-makers from the countries likely to be most affected. This workshop was organised in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Information of the resulting book Global Change: Impacts on Water and Food Security is available in Publications section