The recent 2013 World Water Week in Stockholm, attracted
2700 people and looked at global water issues. Among those
attending were World Farmers' Organisation chief executive
Marco Marzano (left), of Rome, and Federated Farmers
president Bruce Wills (also representing WFO). Mr Wills
said New Zealand was a lucky country when it came to water
resources. Photo supplied.
New Zealand is a lucky country when it comes to water,
Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills says.
''In the future, wars will be fought over water, not oil,''
Mr Wills said.
He was invited to attend the prestigious World Water Week
conference in Stockholm, Sweden, last month, which was
organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute with
the theme, ''Water Co-operation - Building Partnerships''. He
attended as a member of the World Farmers' Organisation (WFO)
- the first time the WFO had been at the event - and took
part in a panel discussion.
He said about 2700 people attended and the printed programme
ran to 140 pages.
Many government-funded and United Nations organisations were
represented as well as major companies such as Shell,
Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola.
The conference made him appreciate even more New Zealand's
privileged position with water resources.
He said despite agriculture using 70% of the world's water,
he was the only farmer to be invited to take part in the
programme in the 23 years the conference has been held.
''When I made mention that I was a farmer it generated some
excitement,'' Mr Wills said.
He said the conference looked at water issues on a global
scale rather than by country.
''The United Nations' figures surrounding water usage say
that 70% of [the world's] water used is for agriculture, 20%
for industry and 10% for households and that is quite
''The UN said 90% of the world's power production is
He said by 2035 the UN estimates there would be a 50%
increase in power production and water withdrawals were
expected to increase by 50% by 2025 by developing countries
and by 18% in developed countries.
He said in addition there would be a 70% increase in food
demand by 2025, and meeting that need was a huge challenge.
''Where was the water going to come from?''Without question
the farmers using 70% of the world's water have to be part of
He said many countries struggled with the lack of water and
it was only going to get worse unless measures were put in
''I got a real appreciation of so many issues that we [New
Zealand] don't generally think about.
''We need to recognise that we are in a very privileged
position with water.''
He was interested in trans-boundary issues, in which a river,
such as the Nile, flowed through several countries, and what
happened at the beginning of the river such as dams or
pollution, could hugely impact on the countries further
''Those countries relied on international negotiation, which
we don't think about in New Zealand.
''It does put things in perspective for us. What I took away
from the week was what a lucky country we are when it comes
''We are not confronted by many of those issues.
''But that did not mean being wasteful or dropping our
''We farmers still have got to do our best with water
''We still need to use our water more efficiently.''
The conference produced the 2013 Stockholm Statement, which
outlined sustainable development goals for water.
''We need to look at what we can do to assist [to meet those
''Some of those issues are not going to be solved in a hurry.
''We are a virtual exporter of water and while our dairy and
meat production is water-intensive many countries can't even
think about producing those because they don't have the
He said New Zealand had the potential to produce more energy
''About 90% of our water is let run away unused so we need to
build more dams and more irrigation.''
He said with the global food security issues there was a lot
of interest in New Zealand.
''The rest of the world is looking at New Zealand and saying
those guys are in a good spot
''In future, wars will be fought over water, not oil.
''In comparison with the rest of the world, we are in such a
privileged position, but that is no excuse not to do better.'
2013 STOCKHOLM STATEMENT
The World Water Week conference attendees put together the
week's annual Stockholm Statement.
By 2030 the following should have been achieved:
1. A doubling of global water productivity. Bruce Wills gave,
as an example, New Zealand's move from border dyke irrigation
to spray irrigation, which means increased production.
2. A realisation of the human right to safe drinking water
3. Increased resilience to water-related disasters, such as
flood and drought.