Future of food security depends on irrigation methods that adapt to climate change – UN agency

7 November 2016

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that in order to adapt agriculture to a changing climate, new approaches to irrigation will need to be developed and implemented worldwide.

These new approaches are being discussed as part of the 2nd World Irrigation Forum which opened yesterday in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and brings together stakeholders from around the world to rethink water management in the context of continued population and economic growth as well as the growing threats of climate change.

During the Forum, which wraps up on 12 November, experts will also discuss ways to improve water management in order to achieve global sustainable food security.

FAO emphasized in a news release that in order to achieve food security, especially in developing countries, regular access to water must be made possible through irrigation. The agency cited irrigation as “a key factor to help transform rural societies and economies,” as it plays a critical role in ending poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, as well as sustaining natural resources and responding to climate change.

The theme of this year’s Forum is ‘Water Management in a Changing World: the Role of Irrigation in Sustainable Food Production.’ In her remarks, Kundhavi Kadiresan, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, announced that solutions to agriculture necessitated addressing water issues and that the challenges of today’s water problems likewise depend on addressing food production.

“Future irrigation practices should also move beyond conventional approaches of productivity gains, and also focus on rural prosperity, facilitating inclusive, equitable and greener growth,” she urged.

The FAO expects the world population to rise to nine billion people by 2050, which will exacerbate the demand for food and water and require a scaling up of agricultural productivity to ensure that everyone is fed.

The world must transition to more productive, resilient, and sustainable forms of agriculture in order to ensure its continuation at both local and industrial levels. This especially includes adapting water management systems to meet evolving challenges.

The forum will also adopt a Ministerial Declaration on delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through agriculture water management. Ms. Kadiresan introduced the declaration through the FAO’s new global initiative, “Coping with Water Scarcity in Agriculture: a Global Framework for Action in a changing climate.” The objective’s main initiative is to build on the FAO and partners’ technical capacity in order to support worldwide development and policy implementation for sustainable water use in agriculture.

The official launch of the Global Framework for Action will take place during the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP22, in Marrakech, Morocco, which opened today.


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