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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Chapter on Water and Food in the Water Action Agenda

Scientific community
    We will identify a number of action perspectives (i.e. game changers) on water and food, such as making water pivotal in food system pathways and priorization of water (re-)allocation. Involved partners will commit themselves to these action perspectives and will follow-up on this after the conference. With respect to prioritization of water (re-)allocation , it will for instance be important to consider the societal value of water used by agriculture for food production when assessing the potential trade-offs in water-reallocations between diverse water users. So not only the value of water for the farmer in terms of higher production, but also the value of water for food security and stability. The value of water for staple crops is for instance low in terms of crop production, but high in terms of food security. The current situation shows the need to reassess the socio-economic value of water for food, in terms of food security for stability in vulnerable regions. This is a game changer.
    Expected Impact
    The chapter and water and food will show the interlinkages between SDG 2 (food) and SDG 6 (water) and the importance (and challenges) to address them jointly. The design of Food System Pathways and National Water Roadmaps requires coordinated action as they are linked. National water and food security are important in times of instability. The idea of food trade to mitigate water scarcity is for instance appealing, but geopolitical interests may dominate water concerns. Reassess the societal value of water for food (security) when assessing trade-offs in water-reallocations

    Private Sector: Cargill, Nature’s Pride, Royal Eijkelkamp, Van der Hoeven
    Public Sector /International organisations: Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch Water Authorities, World Bank, UN World Food Programme and UN FAO INSAS
    Research/Academia: CGIAR, International Potato Centre (tbc), IWMI, WUR
    Non-Governmental Organisations /Public-Private partnerships: Clim-Eat, Environmental Defense Fund, Global Resilience Partnership, GWP, ECDPM, NFP (SEEDNL) and Saline Water & Food Systems Partnership (FAO/ICBA/ADB)

    Goal 2

    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    Goal 2


    By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round


    Prevalence of undernourishment


    Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)


    By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons


    Prevalence of stunting (height for age <-2 standard deviation from the median of the World Health Organization (WHO) Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age


    Prevalence of malnutrition (weight for height >+2 or <-2 standard deviation from the median of the WHO Child Growth Standards) among children under 5 years of age, by type (wasting and overweight)


    Prevalence of anaemia in women aged 15 to 49 years, by pregnancy status (percentage)


    By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment

    Volume of production per labour unit by classes of farming/pastoral/forestry enterprise size


    Average income of small-scale food producers, by sex and indigenous status


    By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality


    Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture


    By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed


    Number of (a) plant and (b) animal genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in either medium- or long-term conservation facilities


    Proportion of local breeds classified as being at risk of extinction


    Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries

    The agriculture orientation index for government expenditures


    Total official flows (official development assistance plus other official flows) to the agriculture sector


    Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round


    Agricultural export subsidies


    Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility


    Indicator of food price anomalies

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Name Description
    Chapter on Water and Food in the Water Action Agenda
    Commitments to action perspectives
    Financial commitments
    Staff / Technical expertise
    Research time
    Financing (in USD)
    Commitment from Wageningen University and Research to allocate money to research on water and food
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    Action Network
    water logo
    07 February 2023 (start date)
    22 March 2024 (date of completion)
    1. Global
    Other beneficiaries

    Game changers and joint action and commitment by various international organizations, for instance by making water pivotal in food system pathways.

    More information
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    United States of America
    United States of America
    Contact Information