UNEP Releases Water & Bioenergy Paper. - October 27th, 2010.

"Water is becoming a growing global concern and according to a new issues
brief released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), water
could determine the degree to which bioenergy can contribute to combating
climate change through renewable fuels. "Water and Bioenergy" was
presented during the Convention on Biodiversity meeting (CBD COP10) in
Nagoya, Japan.

One element of great concern addressed in the paper is in areas where
water is already scarce, biofuels programs could increase environmental
and social pressures. The paper continued by stating that "bioenergy
development can have an impact on biodiversity on a number of levels: by
changing land-use, introducing invasive species for use in biofuel
production, overusing water and pushing agricultural production into areas
with high conservation value (indirect land use change)." However, the
paper also said that if done correctly, on both a global and local level,
biofuel programs can be beneficial.

"There is no doubt that we need to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels
and move to cleaner, more environmentally friendly options, but we need to
make sure we are not creating more problems than we solve," said Achim
Steiner, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and UNEP Executive

Steiner continued, "We need to examine all the risks, so that we can take
full advantage of the opportunities, for emissions cuts, for new green
jobs, and for raising the standards of living for some of the world's
poorest communities."

UNEP spells out some of those considerations in four issues papers now
being circulated that compliment the report, "Accessing Biofuels,"
launched last year.

In "Water and Bioenergy" the UNEP cites research that shows that two per
cent, or 44 km3, of the global water withdrawals for irrigation is being
used for bioenergy production. However, if current bioenergy standards and
targets were fully implemented, a further 180 km3 of irrigation water
would be needed, creating additional pressure on water resources and
potentially impacting on food production and water supplies, especially in
those areas already experiencing water stress.

According to the paper, the water footprint of bioenergy can be up to 400
times greater than that of traditional fossil fuels; therefore, the
greatest challenge will be to determine how to meet future bioenergy
demand without overexploiting or damaging water resources, and how to
better manage bioenergy supply chains to reduce the pressure on water use
and minimize impacts on water quality."

The full report "Water and Bioenergy" can be found at:

Dr. Ann C. Wilkie                          Tel: (352)392-8699
Soil and Water Science Department          Fax: (352)392-7008
University of Florida-IFAS
P.O. Box 110960                         E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Gainesville, FL 32611-0960
Campus location: Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (Bldg. 246).
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Society