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UN World Water Day - March 22, 2012 - focused on water and food security

This year the topic of UN World Water Day, held annually on March 22, is ‘Water and Food Security'. Its aim is to focus attention on the intrinsic link between water and food production and the global challenge of producing enough food for a continuously growing population, within the world's limited water resources.

This year the topic of UN World Water Day, held annually on March 22, is ‘Water and Food Security'.  Its aim is to focus attention on the intrinsic link between water and food production and the global challenge of producing enough food for a continuously growing population, within the world's limited water resources.

Food and water are inseparably linked

Today, there are over 7 billion of people to feed on the planet and this number is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. To secure food for the growing population, it is estimated that a 70% increase in food production would be necessary. But production of food requires water: Around 70% of the world's freshwater resources are used for food production. Over the coming decades the challenge will be to increase food production using less water - particularly in countries with limited water resources, to share and promote best agricultural practices and to eliminate crop and food loss and waste.

Waste of food means waste of water

Because large quantities of water are used to produce food, wasted food also means wasted water. The water footprint of food puts that in perspective: Measured as the total of direct and indirect water inputs into production, the water footprint of, for example, 1kg of wheat is approximately 1,500 litres and for 1kg of beef around 15,000 litres*.

Borealis and Borouge promote water conserving practices

Through Water for the World™, Borealis' and Borouge's flagship CSR programme to address the global water challenge, the companies have initiated a range of projects that contribute to the improvement of agricultural practices.

Sustainable irrigation

40% of the world-wide harvest comes from irrigated cultivation but it is estimated that around 60% of the water is wasted due to unsustainable irrigation practices. Borealis initiated and co-sponsored a study in Italy with the aim of underpinning the need for more sustainable irrigation practices.  The study assessed the effects of innovative water management policies in agriculture from an economic, environmental and social point of view and shows that besides substantial water savings, an overhaul of irrigation systems could save up to EUR17 billion in Italy alone over the next 30 years.

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Precision farming

The optimisation of crop quality and yield level through the precisely measured use of fertilizers, while eliminating excess nutrient rinse-off to avoid water pollution, plays a key role in sustainable farming.  Borealis is working closely with farmers in Austria, Hungary and Romania to enhance the use of sustainable ‘precision farming' methods and providing them with training and support in their application.  The result is improved crop quality and quantity and the preservation of ground and river water quality through the prevention of nutrient rinse-off to the environment.

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Plastic packaging contributes to the preservation of food

Every year around 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced is lost or wasted representing approximately 30% of worldwide production.  In developing countries a large share of that loss occurs between ‘farm and fork' due to a combination of poor storage and poor transportation conditions whereas in developed countries, food is wasted by consumers who are often not aware of the resources needed for its production. For example, in the United Kingdom it is estimated that 22% of the food produced is waste. In addition to its inherent water wastage this represents a value loss calculated to be around £12 billion per year.

Advanced plastics packaging solutions make a key contribution to keeping food fresh and safe and to eliminating food loss.  For example, to cultivate a cucumber requires around 48 litres of water.  To produce the 1.5 grams of plastics film to package it uses approximately 2cl of water.  For this very small additional water input, retailers' statistics show that plastic film extends the shelf life of a cucumber from 3 to 14 days thereby increasing its fresh-food availability, and at the same time maximising the value of the water invested in its cultivation.

Borealis offers a comprehensive range of plastic materials for food transportation such as reusable containers and packaging that contribute to the preservation of food.

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Stockholm Water Week 2012 emphasises importance of water and food security

An annual event since 1991 and this year to be held August 26-31, World Water Week, which is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute, will provide a discussion and partnership-building forum for around 2,000 experts in water related fields from across the world.  This years' key theme will also be focused on the challenge of ‘Water and Food Security', further emphasising the global importance of this issue.

A central feature of the week is the presentation of the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize for 2012.  The award is given each year to the individual, institution or organisation that has made an outstanding improvement-adding contribution to the conservation and protection of the water environment.

On March 22, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), with headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, has been named the 2012 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for their pioneering research that has served to improve agriculture water management, enhance food security, protect environmental health and alleviate poverty in developing countries.

As part of their Water for the World engagement Borealis and Borouge are co-founders of this prestigious prize, and are active participants each year in the Stockholm Water Week programme.


For more information about the plastics solutions  Borealis offers:


About Water for the World™

Borealis together with Borouge established the Water for the World partnership programme, which brings together know-how and expertise to advance solutions that address the global water challenge.  The programme spans a full range of activities on global and regional levels, in education, science, industry and in local communities.

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About World Water Day

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22, 1993 as the first World Water Day, thenceforward to be held on the same date every year.  Co-ordinated by The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, each year World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater, the challenges it poses and the solutions needed to overcome them.

Further information is available at:


Source of all quoted facts & figures: The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)


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