Agricultural leadership in a water scarce world
From California to China’s Eastern provinces, from Jordan to the Southern tip of Africa, significant parts of the world are struggling with water scarcity. In 2016, the World Economic Forum ranked water crises as the risk of highest concern for the next ten years – with significant implications for people and the global economy. Depending on how we manage it, “water” can significantly contribute or impede the achievement of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
As the largest water user globally and a major source of water pollution, agriculture holds the key to tackling the looming water crises head-on and to shift towards more sustainable water management. It also plays a crucial part in producing climate benefits. Appropriate responses to water scarcity cannot only be found within the water domain, but in all of the agricultural and food sectors, including crop production, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry. Good agricultural practices, based on sound land, soil and water management, fertility and pest control as well as improved access to markets and services can lead to significant improvements in agricultural productivity, adapting to climate change with little impact on water resources. Other sub-sectors, like forestry, can play a critical role in regulating water flows and quality and influencing the availability of water resources. While most water is withdrawn at the production stage, water scarcity can also be addressed along food value chains and by consumers. Food losses and waste, for example, represent an unnecessary use of environmental resources and contribution to climate change.
Water scarcity, however, is not just about physical scarcity – an excess of water demand over available supply. Water scarcity due to a lack of adequate infrastructure because of financial , technical or other constraints or scarcity in access to water services, because of the failure of institutions to ensure reliable, secure and equitable supply of water to users – can equally affect the availability of water. A strengthened focus on water governance for agriculture and food security is needed to address some of the underlying issues of water scarcity.
The High Level Panel will discuss different options to deal with water scarcity for sustainable food and agriculture systems. Recognizing that governments, private sector and civil society all have a role to play in addressing the issue, it will further explore what leadership different agricultural actors can offer in coping with water scarcity.
José Graziano da Silva, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Itzik Ben David, Senior Deputy Director General, Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Israel
Esperanza Arellana, Director General of Rural Development and Forestry Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture, Spain
Johannes Cullman, Director of the Climate and Water Department of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), UN
Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, USA
Ratan Sarkar, Executive Director of INCIDIN Bangladesh and representative of the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM), Bangladesh
Prof. Monty Jones, Minister of Agriculture, Sierra Leone
Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union
Dr. Tanja Busse
#UNFAO #waterscarcity #sustainableagriculture
Meeting the Twin Challenges: Food security and water management
Without a clean water supply for farmland there can be no food security. Achieving sustainable agriculture to accomplish UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – end hunger –, while significantly contributing to SDG 6 – availability of clean water –, is worth fighting for.
In less than four decades, there will be 9 billion mouths to feed, in a world with limited freshwater resources, and the need to satisfy other societal and environmental water needs.
On top of the unprecedented population pressure, climate change will have effects on global and local water distribution and increase extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts. That could threaten vulnerable agriculture systems all over the world, facing new water supply and water quality challenges.
Sustainable water management, as targeted by SDG 6, requires an agriculture able to enhance farming productivity while reducing effect on its availability and quality.
These developments require a rethink of how water management for agriculture fits in sustainable development strategies, globally. Already strides are being made in tackling this issue.
Aside from investments to decrease the vulnerability of agriculture sectors in developing countries, ways have to be found to improve yields maximizing resource efficiency, by optimising water (irrigation, recycling) and chemical inputs use. Drought-tolerant crops and IT-based technology and forecasting systems must play a role.
These and other measures should be integrated in and consistent with medium- to long-term water management planning strategies, nationally and locally.
Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development will host this ministerial level debate. It will feature a roundtable policy discussion between ministers in the midst of the audience – using the “centre court” format. This panel focuses on an active engagement with all participants and the audience with the aim of identifying appropriate policy responses and best practice examples in view of tackling enormous global challenge of water and sustainable agriculture.
Claudia Ringler, Deputy Division Director, The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Australia
Dora Siliya, Minister of Agriculture, Sambia
Minister Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Kingdom of Cambodia
Roger Waite, European Commission
Available event languages are English (conference language), German, Spanish and French.