G20 Agriculture Ministers Draft Plan to Improve Global Water Security

Sustainable agriculture is necessary to conserve water resources and enhance water security in the future, according to the agriculture ministers of the G20 countries.

On Sunday (Jan. 22), the agriculture ministers of the G20 met in Berlin to discuss the contributions of the agriculture sector to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ahead of the G20 summit. This meeting was closely preceded by the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) (Jan. 19-21), which takes place in Berlin every year and reunites representatives from various facets of the food and agriculture industries from around the world. The GFFA was carried out around the theme “Agriculture and Water—Key to Feeding the World” and set the stage for Sunday’s meeting which was principally focused on water security.

Climate change, a growing and increasingly urban population, land degradation, and economic growth around the world, are exacerbating competition for water resources. In this context, and considering that agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawal, this sector comes to play a crucial role not only in enhancing food security, but in preserving water security as well.

In the Action Plan announced after the meeting, the G20 ministers commit to implementing strategies to encourage sustainable cultivation practices as a way to protect water resources. Among other measures, they also intend to support research on water-efficient production methods and technologies, calling for increased exchange of knowledge and technology between countries and between the public and private sectors. They devote special attention to information and communication technologies (ICT) which can help farmers use resources more efficiently (for example, by informing farmers when it is about to rain and they may skip irrigation). The ministers also state they will integrate sustainable water management in agricultural policy and seek to improve the coherence of policymaking across all government bodies that influence water use (e.g. energy and environmental protection). As a further measure to improve water-use efficiency in the agricultural sector, the G20 ministers commit to reducing food waste.

These proposals follow some of the recommendations made by the T20 Taskforce “Toward Ending Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture” specifically for the meeting. The Action Plan, however, leaves some points unaddressed, including the need to reverse land degradation and increase investment in energy innovations.

As Reuters reports, German agriculture minister and host of Sunday’s meeting, Christian Schmidt, affirms that sustainable water use is essential for food security and global stability. “Agriculture,” he said, “is a part of global security politics.”

In 2015, Best Climate Practices dedicated its annual international contest to the topic “Climate Change and Water Availability for Food Production.” For more information on the projects that participated presenting innovative solutions to improve water efficiency in agriculture, click here.


(Image: The Grass is Greener Where You Irrigate It. Photo credit: Christina VanMeter/Flickr)