II. Goals and scope

The Conference will be based on the objectives and targets that have already been set at the international level, including priorities for action at the international, national and local level. (see Int'l Commitments) The Conference will promote their further development and - most importantly - their implementation.

The goal of the Conference is to assist and enable local stakeholders in various agro-ecosystems in developing practical approaches for the sustainable management of water for food security and ecosystem functions. In its deliberations, the Conference will consider both the quantity and quality of water as critical in meeting Millennium goals for water services to people and ecosystems.

The global agenda and the already widely accepted conceptual approach to sustainable development/management will be only marginally debated. The global level is mostly taken as the starting point, and the Conference scope will be on how local issues can be dealt with and addressed by stakeholders, and how this should be framed and supported at national levels.

To avoid non-specific issues, deliberations will be based on best practices /case studies, relevant to specific food and ecosystems that examine how concepts are performing in practice. From these case studies, the Conference will seek to identify successful processes carried out by stakeholders in developing good practices. The focus is on a stakeholder-centred and implementation oriented approaches, in which stakeholders take up their own responsibility to make it happen. Enabling and delivering processes and actions that need to be supported in practice to move towards sustainable development.

By identifying best practices and generic lessons the FAO/Netherlands Conference Water for Food and Ecosystems aims to facilitate the implementation of the existing international commitments on sustainable water use in relation to food and ecosystems. The conference will provide a high-level platform to help governments identify management practices, practical lessons learned and the necessary enabling environments that lead to sustainable water use at the river-basin level and the harmonization of food production and ecosystem management with a view to facilitate implementation. The discussion of the conference will build on ongoing dialogues like a.o the Dialogue on Water, Food and Environment.

The Conference will directly contribute to the implementation of international water-related policies and programmes adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development, FAO, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and other international fora. The results of the Conference will be disseminated as an input to the 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (April 2005), the 33rd session of the FAO Conference (November, 2005), Ramsar COP 9 (2005), CBD cop8 (2006) and the Fourth World Water Forum (March 2006). Specifically, it is envisaged that the Conference may lead to:

  • The identification of feasible solutions for reaching the Millennium Development Goals and to develop Strategies and Action Plans in the frameworks of PRSPs.
  • Identification and development by FAO, CSD, CBD and Ramsar (and other international organizations) of complementary and synergistic programmes, through partnerships with other organizations, with a view to strengthening work on agricultural water and ecosystem integrity by ensuring adequate quantities and quality of water resources.
  • Promotion of concrete work at country level and within institutions that will contribute to the development of an ecosystems approach to integrated water resources management and water use productivity plans for sustainable rural development and environmental security.
  • Identification of required policy adjustments and cross-boundary cooperation needed to create a favourable environment for local stakeholders to experience and improve ecosystem-oriented IWRM.
  • Awareness raising and understanding of on-going activities in different organizations (stocktaking).
  • Reinforcing and/or establishing national and international Partnerships on Water for Food and Ecosystems.