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The Dual Threat: Global Food and Water Crises Demand Immediate Action


Jakarta, IO – On World Food Day, 16th October 2023, we raise an alarm and urge global unity in addressing the imminent threats tied to our most vital resources: food and water. This year’s theme, emphasizing the imperativeness of adept water management amidst looming water crises, underscores water’s pivotal role in both human sustenance and food production sustainability. 

The clean water crisis is no longer a distant threat but an impending reality. It looms not just over Indonesia, but also globally. The United Nations forewarns of a pervasive water crisis by 2025, shaped by climate change, burgeoning population growth, and human actions. 

While climate change was once dismissed as abstract, current water scarcities provide a stark reminder of its tangible impacts. By 2030, global freshwater demand is projected to skyrocket by 40%. It’s paramount we respond urgently, championing increased awareness and proactive measures for water security. 

On this year’s commemoration of the World Food Day, we have two crucial issues that we need to address: food and water security. It goes to show that food and water issues are like two sides of a coin. They are unmistakably intertwined, and cannot be separated. 

Indonesia is set to spearhead a global conversation, hosting the 10th World Water Forum in May 2024, themed “Water for Shared Prosperity.” The global community is increasingly acknowledging the centrality of water. This acknowledgment, infused with urgency and world leaders’ recognition, has catalyzed the enshrinement of water and sanitation as a distinct goal, SDG’s Goal 6. Furthermore, the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2023 subjected this goal to an exhaustive review, reaffirming its significance.

In a recent dialogue with the President of the World Water Council, I accentuated the pivotal roles of institutions like the Indonesian House of Representatives and civil societies, including the Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI), in shaping the discourse at the upcoming Water Forum. 

These converging events highlight the pressing nature of food and water challenges. Governments must craft policies underpinned by knowledge, innovation, and collaboration. There’s an immediate necessity to capacitate farmers with the wisdom of sustainable water utilization and management. 

Compounding our concerns is the climatic unpredictability of El Nino, which intensifies dry seasons, posing additional threats to our food security. Historically, El Nino has been linked to a decline in our rice production by 1 to 5 million tons from 1990-2020. 

Recent data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS) portrays a grim picture, with rice production in February and March 2023 reported at 2.8 million tons and 5 million tons, falling short of the projected 3.6 million tons and 5 million tons, respectively—a decline attributed largely to El Nino. 

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This climate-induced reduction in food production is not an isolated Indonesian concern. Global repercussions have prompted several traditional rice-exporting nations to restrict or halt exports, exacerbating challenges for countries, like ours, reliant on imports. 

Disturbances in the global rice market, especially with India’s recent export restrictions, underscore this. India’s stature as an affordable white rice supplier has intensified concerns over potential surges in rice prices in regions dependent on imports. Short-term fixes are inadequate. A comprehensive, long-term strategy is non-negotiable to address the intertwined challenges of food and water. Absent such vision, we stand at the precipice of simultaneous food and water crises.

Fadli Zon is an Indonesian politician, presently serving as a member of the People’s Representative Council (DPR-RI). He was previously Deputy Speaker of the House from 2014 to 2019. Currently he is Chairman of the House Committee for Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation (2018-2024), as well as a member of the House committee on Defense, Foreign Affairs and Information. Fadli is one of the founders of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), where he is vice chairman. He is also Chairman of the National Leadership Board of HKTI, the Indonesian Farmers Association.


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