Integrated solutions to the water, agriculture and climate crises

15 05 2009


Authors: Varghese,S.

This report investigates the role of agriculture in addressing global challenges related to climate, water and food. Based on three international events over 2009: the World Water Forum, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the report identifies the interconnections between the three and the need to develop complementary policy options and action steps. The key findings of the report are:

  • food deficit nations, which already face water scarcity, are further compromised by climate change, as they have limited resources for climate adaptation or to undertake mitigation efforts
  • agriculture sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is approximately 16 to 30 percent. Industrialised farming, which depends on intensive resources to produce crops and livestock for increased trade is largely responsible for these high numbers
  • irrigated agriculture globally accounts for almost 70 percent of total water withdrawn for human use. The needs of intensive industrial agriculture have driven a large number of massive water infrastructures and water diversions, damming rivers for irrigation
  • rain-fed agricultural systems are more vulnerable to climate-related stresses, accounting for over 80 percent of agricultural land. They not only require the greatest adaptation to climate change, but have also been identified as pivotal to addressing food crisis.

The report identifies comprehensive solutions to the water, food security and climate change crises. It suggests governments should:

  • adopt a rights-based approach in national and regional water and agricultural policies and investment decisions at the national level
  • invest in multifunctional agricultural systems and agro-ecological practices that will help mitigate climate change
  • prioritise water availability for basic needs of people and ecosystem needs
  • safeguard women’s human rights and recognise their involvement in farming and other rural activities
  • ensure voices and concerns of small-holder farmers as central to policy reforms for global, regional and national solutions for food and water security.

In conclusion, the report significantly highlights that reversing climate change and confronting global food and water insecurities are the principal social and environmental challenges of our time.

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=42800&em=080509⊂=clim

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