The UK's reliance on 'virtual' water, in imported food and other supplies, is exacerbating water shortages in other countries, according to a report from leading engineers. They warn the UK's future development could be threatened if the escalating global water crisis is not addressed urgently. In a new report, the 'Engineering the future' alliance, which includes the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, warns that with population growth, urbanisation, changing diets, pollution of water resources and climate change, global water resources are set to become even more stressed. Two thirds of the UK's water footprint is now effectively imported in the form of food, energy and other goods, that require water for production and transportation from countries that are themselves under water stress. Water is one of the most undervalued natural commodities in the world, directly affecting national security through its impact on economic growth, energy security, food supply and healthcare. This domino effect has been described by the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor Professor John Beddington as a 'perfect storm', which could lead to global instability if each of the inter-dependent elements are not addressed. Chairman of the working group Professor Peter Guthrie said: "If the water crisis becomes critical it will pose a serious threat to the UK's future development because of the impact it would have on our access to vital resources. Food prices would sky-rocket and economic growth would suffer. "To prevent this we must recognise how the UK's water footprint is impacting on global water scarcity. We should ask whether it is right to import green beans � or even roses � from a water-stressed region like Kenya, for example. The burgeoning demand from developed countries is putting severe pressure on areas that are already short of water. Our virtual water footprint is critical and we need to give it far more attention."


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