Ahead of UN Summit expert consensus that action on water critical to transforming food systems

Source(s): International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

 The Food Systems Summit Global Dialogue; Water – the Game-changer for Food Systems has concluded with consensus that water has unmatched utility to support the necessary transformation of food systems. Participants, including six senior IWMI experts agreed that water plays a critical role in future proofing food systems against climate shocks and pandemics; making them more inclusive and healthier; ending hunger and malnutrition, and safeguarding the health of our planet.

Participants gave a strong recommendation that water and the key findings of the Dialogue are given center stage in preparations for the UN Food Systems Summit in September.

Given the growth of water-intensive industry, agriculture and energy generation, it is vital that governments and authorities develop an understanding of water as a finite and valuable resource that needs to be managed across all its uses. While agriculture accounts for between 70 and 90 per cent of freshwater use it is important to take a systems view including the benefits for people, climate and nature of managing water across the whole food system – from supply of water to food production and consumption.

Stefan Uhlenbrook, Strategic Program Director – Water, Food & Ecosystems: “IWMI convened Independent Dialogues in the lead up to this Global Dialogue and arrived at similar conclusions. Well managed water resources are critical as a means to enhance sustainable, resilient food production while ensuring that ecosystems thrive and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Cross-sectoral collaboration of the water, food, agriculture, energy and forestry sectors is critical. These are simple messages that we want to carry forward for recognition by Member states at the UN Food Systems Summit in September.”

The virtual Dialogue was co-convened by Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit and Gilbert F. Houngbo, UN-Water Chair and President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).

Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit: “Water is life. But it is one of the elements of the food system that is most taken for granted. Water is vital for agriculture and for peace and security. Put water, front and centre as you enter into these conversations.”

Gilbert F. Houngbo, UN-Water Chair and President of the International Fund for Agriculture Development: Water scarcity translates into food scarcity. The kinds of food we grow have a direct impact on water. The way in which water is used in agriculture is no longer sustainable. Intensifying competition for water and the effects of climate change leads to more tension and greater inequality.

Curated by David Nabarro, Strategic Advisor to (and curator of) the Food Systems Summit Dialogues: This virtual event explored the fundamental connections between food and water systems, and how water relates to other areas fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals, such as energy, climate, and the environment.

In closing Claudia Sadoff Executive Management Team Convener and Managing Director, Research Delivery and Impact, CGIAR said: “It has been a clear conclusion of today’s discourse that taking action on water systems, we can make critical contributions to transforming food systems. Water, through floods and droughts, wields significant power to disrupt and break food systems meaning that the management of water risks is imperative.” She highlighted that at the heart of functioning food systems are water systems with three main components: water supply to the food system; water use in food production and water for food consumption.

Participants included representatives of civil society, regional organisations, UN organisations, international financial institutions, CGIAR and the donor community. The dialogues have offered a powerful opportunity for people everywhere to have a seat at the table at the milestone UN Food Systems Summit.

Explore further

Share this

Please note: Content is displayed as last posted by a PreventionWeb community member or editor. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of UNDRR, PreventionWeb, or its sponsors. See our terms of use

Is this page useful?

Yes No
Report an issue on this page

Thank you. If you have 2 minutes, we would benefit from additional feedback (link opens in a new window).