“Water scarcity means less water for agriculture production which in turn means less food available, threatening food security and nutrition” – World

Interview with Li Lifeng, Director of the Land and Water Division, FAO


Rome— Ahead of the UN 2023 Water Convention and adhering to the 2nd WASAG (The World Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture) Intercontinental Forum, the Director of the Land and H2o Division of the Food items and Agriculture Firm (FAO), Li Lifeng, talks about 1 of the most urgent global difficulties facing humanity: water scarcity.

1. How urgent is the problem of drinking water shortage in the earth now?

H2o shortage is exacerbated by local weather alter and worldwide inhabitants expansion, ensuing in enhanced level of competition for a dwindling and more and more erratically available useful resource. Local climate adjust final results in unpredictable rainfall styles with new extremes or peaks in droughts and floods, earning it challenging to vacation resort to regular drinking water-methods planning to meet up with rising need for water. Thinking of that ‘water is (key to) life’ and that drinking water plays an significant job in acquiring a equilibrium between financial efficiency, environmental sustainability and social equity, there is an urgent will need to consider the necessary steps. And this is finest finished in a concerted and collaborative way.

2. To what extent does water shortage effect agriculture and foods safety?

Water is a critical input for agriculture creation — different crops have diverse water requirements for optimal growth. And agriculture plays a essential job in the drinking water equation, since it is liable for about 70 per cent of freshwater withdrawals it. Drinking water shortage implies less drinking water for agriculture output which in convert usually means much less foods offered, threatening food protection and nutrition. Looking at that the entire world inhabitants will access all around 9 billion in 2050, it is crystal clear that drinking water scarcity is a authentic risk to foods safety because extra foods will have to be grown with confined h2o methods.

3. What are the varieties of h2o scarcity that regions can expertise?

Normally, nations around the world practical experience both actual physical h2o shortage or economic drinking water shortage. Bodily water shortage is when the demand for water exceeds the water means that are in a natural way accessible in the supplied area, possibly as surface or groundwater, with a offered rainfall routine. Economic h2o shortage normally takes place in areas where by, irrespective of the abundance of h2o resources, there is no sufficient infrastructure to make it offered meet the diverse wants, this sort of as electric power, industries and mines, domestic water supply and agriculture. Folks in arid and semi-arid locations, which working experience physical drinking water shortage since of their all-natural predicament, have typically produced ingenious options, these kinds of as taming water from distant resources, and working with irrigation performance techniques and other techniques these kinds of as desalination of seawater or groundwater abstraction when obtainable.

Owing to local climate improve, which affects the seasonal patterns of rainfall, nations that relied solely on rainfed agriculture now encounter temporal physical water shortage thanks to irregular rainfalls that disrupt the regular planting seasons, resulting in recurring crop failures and primary to food insecurity. This tends to make it vital to store drinking water for supplemental irrigation. Addressing this local climate modify also calls for novel ways this kind of as drought resistant crops or intercropping with deal with crops (this sort of as certain varieties of leguminous) that will prolong soil humidity for the specific staple crops (these types of as maize) to proceed to expand when the rainfall has stopped.

More and more, all regions will require to keep drinking water for (supplemental) irrigation, which is wanted to compensate for the rising deficit in the crop h2o necessities brought about by erratic or unpredictable rainfalls.

4. What is FAO’s part in addressing the problem of drinking water scarcity globally?

FAO performs an vital purpose in addressing the concern of h2o scarcity globally and particularly in agriculture. For illustration at the regional degree, the Regional Drinking water Shortage Initiative in the Close to East (a area afflicted by actual physical drinking water shortage) has in quite a few techniques helped nations around the world, which include via drinking water accounting and auditing, evaluation their water means and detect the prospective for bettering the economical use of water for agriculture. This has been merged with a evaluate of the coverage and institutional atmosphere that sustains h2o methods management.

Lately, the inter-Regional Specialized System on Drinking water Scarcity was established in an effort to increase the synergies involving the distinct regional initiatives with the assist of a world wide oversight. FAO also hosts the International Framework on Water Shortage in Agriculture (WASAG) which provides collectively far more than 70 associates representing nations around the world and intergovernmental corporations, UN organizations, academia and study institutions, civil culture, non-governmental businesses, personal sector businesses and trade associations. Alongside one another, considering the fact that 2017, they have labored on a voluntary foundation to find collaborative remedies, making entire use of FAO’s convening job.

5. At a current Africa Group assembly in Rome, Long-lasting Associates to FAO from the continent confirmed specific interest on how WASAG will influence Africa. What is your feeling on this?

The Africa Team of Long-lasting Associates to FAO is right in recognizing that water management is an vital situation for Africa: this is a continent in which only 6 p.c of offered freshwater methods has been saved driving dams, exposing the continent to the vagaries of weather modify with temporal bodily scarcity. The 2nd WASAG Intercontinental Discussion board that was arranged in Praia, Cabo Verde, benefitted from the participation of African countries as perfectly as the African Union and the Lasting Inter Condition Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). The African Union is an energetic Associate of WASAG and participates in its doing work groups on h2o and diet and on sustainable agriculture h2o use. It has asked for WASAG to facilitate instruction on the tips for pressurized irrigation, in reaction to the growing will need for (supplemental) irrigation in Africa. CILSS, on the other hand, as a result of its Executive Secretary, Abdoulaye Mahamadou, has fully commited to organize foreseeable future WASAG activities with each other with the Federal government of Cabo Verde, in recognition of the pertinence of the topic and to collaborate in locating methods that contribute to CILSS’s mandate.

Importantly, the Forum has adopted the Praia Connect with for Motion. It has invited all member nations around the world to become Companions of WASAG.

6. What are the plans of WASAG?

WASAG’s eyesight is of a world whose food devices are safe and resilient to rising water scarcity in a transforming local climate. Its mission is to aid measurable, considerable progress on enhancing and adapting agricultural methods in circumstances of increasing drinking water scarcity and a modifying climate, working with the merged skills and sources of the partners. WASAG targets are to urgently address the following essential and applicable perform spots at intercontinental and region degrees:

  • advocating for political prioritization
  • cooperating on do the job programmes
  • sharing and disseminating information and working experience
  • building new or improved alternatives
  • marketing sustainable and integrated drinking water means administration
  • creating ability of associates, nations and other stakeholders and
  • contributing to reliable checking devices.

WASAG’s do the job contributes immediately to the 2030 for Sustainable Enhancement and the Sustainable Ambitions (SDGs) as perfectly as the Paris Agreement on local climate improve.

**7. Do you imagine that WASAG was successful this yr? What are some of the concrete options that ended up proposed at the Discussion board? **

This yr, WASAG’s achievements can be illustrated by quite a few milestones as very well as by concrete remedies. Throughout the Second Global WASAG Forum, by The Praia Contact for Motion the contributors:

  • endorsed the supply of the Governing administration of Cabo Verde to make Praia the Capital town of WASAG. This is befitting for the reason that Cabo Verde is the usual illustration of the troubles of h2o shortage and how its folks are resilient in getting remedies, location an example to emulate by other nations faced with h2o shortage with equivalent or significantly less harsh problems.
  • adopted 17 actions, all pertinent and ranging from mobilizing political aid, promoting countrywide ownership although stepping up collaborative actions among the countries and adopting global, cross sectoral collaboration and multidisciplinary techniques.
  • adopted distinct steps on innovative funding mechanisms, farmer-led methods which include the youth, inclusive systems, digital agriculture, coupling agriculture water management with foods and nutrition and h2o, sanitation and hygiene (Clean), dryland agriculture, saline agriculture, coping with migration, etcetera.

8. What can the UN H2o Conference 2023 support achieve?

The UN 2023 Water Conference is a connect with to action to each individual solitary person on the planet to accelerate improve to address the water disaster about the world. It marks a watershed instant that contact governments and choice makers to just take concerted steps and commitments to reach the internationally agreed water-linked objectives and targets, which includes those people contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Improvement. It is the most essential drinking water event in a technology, the first celebration of its variety for almost 50 years.

FAO will actively organize, co-companion and aid far more than 35 situations at the Convention. Additional aspects are available at FAO at the UN Drinking water Conference.

Additional on this matter

FAO Drinking water
AQUASTAT – FAO’s World Information and facts Procedure on Water and Agriculture

Get in touch with

Sreya Banerjee
FAO Information and Media (Rome)
[email protected]

FAO Information and Media
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