In rural areas, agriculture is a path out of poverty and the key to food security for many. Yet the impact of agriculture on water resources is rarely considered, even though it accounts for 70 percent of all global water withdrawals and up to 90 percent in some developing countries.
In addition, the use of chemicals and fertilisers causes ecosystem damage and water pollution due to runoff from farmers’ fields. As we seek to increase food production to meet the demands of a growing population, agriculturalists could come into serious conflict with other water users, especially energy producers and urban dwellers. This situation will get worse as climate change moves global rainfall patterns in new directions.
Increasing agricultural production and yields will be critical for achieving future food security. It will involve a mix of technological improvements, land-use change, improved water storage, making wastewater safe to reuse, and both large- and small-scale production systems. At a global level, GWP will seek ways to improve understanding of interconnected issues and share knowledge. We will assist national, regional, and local decision-makers to align agricultural policy with water resources management plans and processes, and climate adaptation strategies, and ensure these are integrated into national development planning. Water users’ associations on the ground will be encouraged to use sustainable and efficient water management practices that incorporate soil conservation and rehabilitation.
We will work with research partners at all levels, including CGIAR, to ensure that research on food and water security responds to stakeholder needs, and that research findings inform policy and practice. We will work with international organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to support these activities.
We will work with the International Land Coalition to advocate coordinated land and water governance as an integral part of national agricultural policy. Together we will promote equitable and secure access to water and land as productive resources, and as a means of achieving sustainable development.
We will also focus on the links between groundwater and land use in order to reduce groundwater pollution, decline in water quality, and soil degradation that result from largescale land-use changes. We will support countries to prepare for the impact of extreme climate events, such as floods and droughts, on food security.