8th World Water Forum in Brasilia: towards nature-based solutions

SHARING. This Monday, March 19, 2018 opens in Brasilia ( Brazil ) an 8 e World Water Forum that proves strategic. Titled "the sharing of water", this triennial meeting takes place just before two crucial meetings: the political forum next July (it will gather in New York most of the leaders on the objectives of access to the drinking water and sanitation by 2030) and December COP 24 in Poland on the climate where water appears as a priority in 93% of national contributions to the fight against global warming . This is the moment also chosen by Unesco to publish its world report 2018 . This sum of data gives an idea of ​​the challenges facing humanity.

World water consumption increases by 1% per year

Men currently harvest 4600 billion m 3 d water per year. Domestic use accounts for 10% against 60% for agriculture and 30% for industry. This world consumption increases by 1% per year and should reach 6000 billion m 3 per year in 2050. But access to the resource should undergo major upheavals. First, the increase in the population will increase the needs of agriculture, particularly in groundwater, which is more difficult to renew. 800 billion m 3 are now collected in the groundwater. Excessive pumping could lead to severe shortages in already stressed areas. The management of domestic water will be impacted by the growth of cities, 66% of men living in urban areas in 2050 against 54% today.

In red, areas where water shortages are already noted . The impacted areas will be more extensive in 2050, particularly in India and China. © Unesco.

80% of industrial and municipal wastewater discharged into rivers without treatment

" The deterioration of water quality is expected to intensify over the next few years decades, which would increase threats to human health, the environment and development "says Unesco citing a report of the multinational Veolia. Currently 80% of all industrial and municipal wastewater is discharged into rivers without any prior treatment. Agriculture remains the main source of nitrate increases in the natural environment and the use of chemical pesticides increases by about 2 million tonnes per year. In Europe, where the situation is much more favorable than in the rest of the world, 30% of the rivers and 40% of the lakes harbor too much phosphorus.

The evolution of the quality of water in the world. The situation is worsening mainly in East Africa, India and China. © Unesco

If the participants of the Brasilia Forum are preparing for the climate change negotiations (COP24) at the end of 2018 in Poland, it is because the issue of water is central for many states on at least two plans: rising temperatures are disrupting water availability and global warming will disrupt the water cycle and increase droughts and floods. Already, 1.8 billion people live in regions affected by desertification and drought, making it the most serious "natural disaster" for humanity. Floods have affected 2.3 billion people since 1995. Between 2005 and 2014, there was an average of 171 floods per year compared with 127 in the previous decade.

Focusing "green" infrastructures on infrastructure " "

It is these new and distressing situations that are studied throughout the week in Brasilia. With, however, reasons for hope. First, there is enough fresh water on the planet to water 10 billion people. Then, management techniques (rational irrigation, water distribution, savings in industry) exist and can be deployed quickly. Finally, the preservation of the quality of the resource uses simple and inexpensive techniques. It is on this aspect that Unesco emphasizes. " There will always be need to build dikes, to make pipes and purification plants, statue and Richard Connor, editor-in-chief of the report of Unesco. But next to these "gray" infrastructures, we have a whole panoply of "green" infrastructures relying on the ecological engineering and the use of the role played by the ecosystems "

The protection of the catchment areas of its drinking water This allows New York City to save 25 million euros a year in the cost of potabilization. In Madagascar, the "intensification system of rice" which favors a better management of water and soil has saved 25 to 50% of water and 80% of seeds while increasing the production of 25 to 50%. " Worldwide, it is estimated that agricultural production could increase by almost 20% thanks to greener practices of water management ," says Richard Connor. The margin of progress is immense. According to a report cited by UNESCO on agricultural development projects in 57 low-income countries, more efficient use of water and improved plant cover, particularly through agroforestry, have improved agricultural yields. 79% without increasing the use of pesticides

Agricultural Show: Biocontrol Solutions to Exit Pesticides

NATURAL. Pheromones, bacteria, macroorganisms, vegetable, animal and mineral substances. In recent years, the battery of natural solutions acting on plant health has grown steadily. "The 43 French companies members of our International Association of Manufacturers of Biocontrol Products (IBMA) have a turnover of 2 billion euros, or 5% of the national pesticide market ]details Fabrice Favrot, CEO of Koppert France, a subsidiary of a Dutch company specializing in the sector. We are aiming for 15% by 2020. "

The winds are indeed very buoyant. After years of failed plant protection product reduction policies that are now found in most French rivers, governments and a growing share of the agricultural profession seem to really want to solve the problem. Koppert sums up the vitality of the sector. This company, created in 1967, started with greenhouse crops, a specialty of Holland. In a controlled and closed world, it is indeed easier to use natural weapons that are four in number:

Macro-organisms are the class of natural predators of insect pests of plants. This is the case of the ladybug on aphids, trichograms against corn borer, typholodromes against mites of the vine. 100 000 of the 500 000 hectares of maize planted in France are treated by trichogrammes

The micro-organisms are the bacteria and viruses effective as well against the insects as against the mushrooms. The bacterium Pythium oligandrum acts against Fusarium wilt, Beauvaria bassiana against corn borer, Bacillus thurigiensis against Colorado potato beetle

] Pheromones are odorous compounds that allow male insects to meet females. By diffusing these "perfumes", one institutes a "sexual confusion" which hinders the reproduction. This technique is now common in arboriculture and viticulture.

Vegetable, animal and mineral substances are extracts having an effect on plants. This is the case of paraffin oils, sweet orange essential oils, and pyrethrins extracted from chrysanthemum.

These techniques target plant pests. There are also products for stimulating plant defenses. Thus, "elicitors" are compounds extracted from algae that strengthen the immune defenses of plants. Another method of improving the robustness of crops is the provision of plant-friendly bacteria and soil fungi. Research has shown that soil micro-organisms matched to improve plant resistance to pests. These communities are reconstituted and sprayed on crops. The main company of the sector, Novozymes, joined in 2013 the multinational Monsanto to develop this solution. "Research is particularly dynamic in our sector, welcomes Fabrice Favrot. Thus, we will go from 3 to 10 treatment solutions for diseases of cereals and from 1 to 7 for other field crops, maize, rapeseed, in the coming years. "

Accelerate research efforts [19659009] This progress is particularly expected by farmers who fear being left without solutions to diseases. This is in any case the position of the FNSEA which refuses any ban on chemicals if there is no alternative treatment. However, biocontrol is only part of the solution to reduce or even eliminate the chemistry of farms. Agronomic solutions such as rotations with introduction of legumes, reduction of plot sizes, use of computer alert systems complete the arsenal of measures to be implemented. All these solutions are studied within a public-private consortium that is now being asked to accelerate research efforts.