On water and food security: A case for sustainable agriculture practices

The cost of unsustainable use of water in agriculture is too big to ignore, the U.N. secretary-general stressed on World Water Day, March 22.

In a statement read at the World Water Day event hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization, Ban Ki-moon said that unless the international community uses water more wisely in agriculture, “we will fail to end hunger and we will open the door to a range of other ills, including drought, famine and political instability.”

There are already reasons to be alarmed, Ban said. He noted that various parts of the world are currently experiencing water scarcity while climate change adds to the risk of future widespread water shortages.

In line with this year’s theme of “Water and Food Security,” Ban proposed ways on how the two can be achieved hand-in-hand: transfer water technologies to developing countries, empower small food producers, conserve essential ecosystem services, craft policies that promote water rights for all, and strengthen water rules and regulation. The U.N. chief also called for policies that promote gender equality.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva backed Ban’s comments with a proposal of his own: increased investments in people, education, information campaigns and infrastructure, incentives for small farmers to adopt best practices, improve water government, and strengthen or establish institutions focused on water management.

Both U.N. officials dubbed the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in June an ideal venue to start considering these changes. Rio+20 should “connect the dots between water security and food and nutrition security in the context of a green economy,” Ban said.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.