NATURE BASED SOLUTIONS, WATER MANAGEMENT AND AGRICULTURE

Presented by:
Olcay ÜNVER, PhD., Vice Chair of UN-Water and Deputy Director of Land and Water Division at Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO);

Member of the WLE Steering Committee
“The case for intensification has been well articulated in the literature, both from a perspective of increased production, through high-yielding crops, increased irrigation, mechanization, and the role of chemicals that increase production levels, and from a conservation perspective, in terms of the millions of hectares of forests which otherwise would be converted into farm land, unquantifiable amount of ecosystem services saved, and of some 590 billion tons of CO2 prevented from being released into the atmosphere.”

2018-World Water Week
Showcase Session on WWDR2018

Nature Based Solutions, water management and agriculture
Hosted and Organized by 
SIWI
28 August 2018 Tuesday
9:00-10:30
Fulkets Hus Congress Hall A

This lecture is about the role that nature based solutions can play in making agriculture more productive while maintaining and preferably strengthening the integrity of the ecosystems from the lens of water resources management.

By the end of the lecture, you will learn that the global food demand is growing and agriculture sectors need to respond to this demand.

You will also learn that our water resources is not changing in quantity and suffers from quality degradation and what we have available is subject to growing competition between agriculture, industries, and domestic use.

The response is sustainable food and agriculture systems as the overarching principle, and sustainable intensification and diversification in terms of production.

I will provide you examples from the past mistakes, untapped potential, and encouraging developments.

I.
The green revolution that boosted crop production and agricultural yields was a result of intensification of agriculture. Remember, when I say agriculture, it is not only crops, but it is also livestock, aquaculture and fisheries. Forests are a part of the broader scope, too.

The case for intensification has been well articulated in the literature, both from a perspective of increased production, through high-yielding crops, increased irrigation, mechanization, and the role of chemicals that increase production levels, and from a conservation perspective, in terms of the millions of hectares of forests which otherwise would be converted into farm land, unquantifiable amount of ecosystem services saved, and of some 590 billion tons of CO2 prevented from being released into the atmosphere.

We must however acknowledge that most of the intensification in the past occurred with the primary, if not the only, aim of production, whose negative consequences were understood after-the-fact and are now well documented. We can mention soil and water pollution, soil acidification, salinization and nutrient depletion among the negative consequences.

Achieving sustainability in food and agriculture has five pillars:
1. Improve efficiency in the use of resources, especially water resources,
2. Take direct and deliberate action to conserve, protect and enhance natural resources,
3. Protect and improve rural livelihoods, equity and social well-being,
4. Enhance resilience of people, communities and ecosystems, and
5. Ensure responsible and effective governance mechanisms.

Through these pillars the case is well made and acknowledged for a transformation to sustainable intensification and diversification in agriculture with an agro-ecological perspective. SIA requires us to a refocus on twofold aims: increasing yields and enhancing the ecosystem services provided by agriculture.

This means, in many areas,diversification of cropping and increases in yield will be mutually supportive with environmental improvements. In others, we will need to consider lesser yields or land reallocation to ensure sustainability and achieve other benefits such as biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, protection from floods and droughts, and recreation.

From a production perspective, SIA has 2 components:
(i) resource efficiency: combining locally relevant crop and animal genetic improvement and practices that minimize inputs and close nutrient, carbon, and water cycles,
(ii) landscape level resilience: through practices sustaining ecosystem functions and services. These components, in turn, rely on two conditions:
(i) understanding multi-scale connectivity, across scales to link the field level with biome and global level;
(ii) access to knowledge and resources: land and water tenure, common property, markets, funding, and services.
Sustainable practices range across full domain of agriculture, including soil tillage systems, water resource management, crop and nutrient management, use of drought or heat resistant seeds, livestock practices, integrated landscape management, pest management, sustainable soil management, and managing the forest-water nexus. All of these have impacts on, and are impacted by, the quantity, quality and availability of water.

We have plenty of evidence, examples, and tools for the above to happen. The need is for upscaling the practices through deliberate and consistent policies.

II.EXAMPLES:
I will give three examples of varying scale.
1. large untapped potential in upgrading rainfed agriculture in savannah regions (covering 40% of the Earth’s surface) by enhancing rainwater harvesting. As an example, in semi-arid areas of Niger and Burkina Faso, small-scale farmers use planting pits to harvest rain water and rehabilitate degraded land for the cultivation of millet and sorghum. In Burkina Faso alone, these practices have helped rehabilitate up to 300 000 hectares of land and produce an additional 80 000 tons of food per year.

2. In Ethiopia, farmers capture flood water and runoff from ephemeral rivers, roadsides, and hillsides using temporary stone and earth embankments, to irrigate crops and pasture. In the central and western part of the country, total irrigated land is approximately 65 500 ha, and some 344 000 (approximately 90 %) of the households have benefited from doubling of sorghum yields as well as 75 % sustainable expansion production of pepper, onions, and tomatoes. Other ecosystem benefits have included improved moisture and fertility in the cultivated fields and reduction of downstream flooding.

3.Indian state of Andhra Pradesh implemented an FAO-supported project, reaching out to a million farmers, to restore depleted groundwater tables. The main vehicle was the farmer water school, with the learning process grounded in the farmers’ own fields. In addition to education on groundwater, the curriculum included switching crops, improving yields, and reducing input costs. The farmers accordingly learned about composting, green manuring, biofertilizers, mulching, intercropping, improved irrigation methods in rice intensification.

III. WAY FORWARD
COUNTRIES: Agroecology, ecosystem-based agriculture, and nature-based solutions in agriculture all point to a shared vision for making production and conservation integral components of sustainable agriculture.
More and more countries are adopting agroecological approaches. A recent international symposium at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, on 3-5 April 2018 witnessed passionate discussions on upscaling agroecology to achieve SDGs. One of the examples is India’s 12th Five Year Plan, which adopts a paradigm shift in water resource management towards sustainable ecological intensification in agriculture.

RESEARCH:
A promising development is the emphasis in the strategic plan of the CGIAR until 2030 (2015), in which the three highest level system outcomes are reduced poverty, improved food and nutrition security for health, and improved natural resources and ecosystem services. As the CGIAR played a pivotal role in the 1st Green Revolution, this creates the potential framework for a 2nd Green Revolution based on SIA principles.

POLICY:
FAO pursues a strategic transformation to sustainable food and agriculture systems, which endorses agroecological approaches in agricultural management for sustainable crop production intensification, provides associated policy advice, and envisages a vision of sustainable food and agriculture that merges access by all to nutritious food with ecosystem-focused natural resources management.

FAO’s strategy, which is drawn up by all of its member states, incorporates appropriate and locally relevant nature-based solutions into the development frameworks.

In closing, much hope for mainstreaming NBS in agriculture policies and making much better use of the untapped potential.

_ . _

Related links:

Interview with Olcay Ünver, Vice Chair of UN-Water and Deputy Director of Land and Water Division at Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO at World Water Week 2018
FAO’s role in the Global Framework on Water Scarcity to play a key role in FAO activities in Stockholm

Sofa 8208: WASAG – Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture
Stockholm Water Week day 1. Interview about water scarcity, agriculture, climate change and sustainable development agenda.

http://www.worldwaterweek.org/

World Water Week


Water Policy – Research/Article |July 17 2018
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Special Thanks to
Mr. Olcay Ünver
for his contribution to the TurkishLibrary.Us site along with his provided photos and related links in this page.

– Submitted and posted on August 31, 2018.

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