AP Interview: Dutch crown prince warns against prioritizing biofuels
STOCKHOLM, Sweden: Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander warned against
diverting water resources from food production to biofuels, saying
Wednesday that feeding people is more important than fueling cars.
"Biofuels is a great way to support our Western way of life, but it's
not a necessity for mankind to survive. Food is," said Willem-Alexander,
who chairs the U.N. secretary-general's advisory board on water and
Demand for biofuels, such as ethanol made from corn or sugarcane, is
growing amid efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles
and power plants. But focusing scarce water resources on growing crops
for biofuel production instead of food could backfire as the world
population grows, he said.
"The amount of water needed to produce the biofuels for a tank of an SUV
equals the amount of water needed to feed one person on grains for a
whole year," Willem-Alexander told The Associated Press on the sidelines
of the World Water Week conference in Stockholm.
"It's fine to replace fossil fuels with biofuels, but first find an
alternative for food production, say a new green revolution reducing by
half the amount of water needed in agriculture."
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The crown prince warned that the world is failing to meet U.N. goals to
halve the proportion of people lacking basic sanitation by 2015. About 2
million children die every year of diarrhea, mostly because of unsafe
water supply and poor sanitation, according to U.N. estimates.
"The way we are going now with sanitation, we are definitely not on the
right track," he said. "Water and sanitation plans hardly feature in any
poverty reduction strategy papers."
He said about 2.6 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation,
many of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, he added that the issue is starting to gain the world's
attention, with the U.N. General Assembly declaring 2008 the
International Year of Sanitation.
Scientists, U.N. agency representatives and professionals from more than
130 countries are meeting in Sweden this week to discuss the world's
water needs and sources.
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