Agrobiodiversity - That component of biodiversity that contributes to food and agriculture production. The term agrobiodiversity encompasses within-species, species and ecosystem diversity

Agro-ecosystem - A dynamic association of crops, pastures, livestock, other flora and fauna, atmosphere, soils, and water. Agroecosystems are contained within larger landscapes that include uncultivated land, drainage networks, rural communities, and wildlife.


Blue water - Surface and groundwater that is available for irrigation, urban and industrial use and environmental flows


Catchment area - Drainage area of a stream, river or lake (also termed "river basin" or "watershed")

Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) - Created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of the United Nations "Earth Summit". Monitors and reports on implementation of the Summit agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. Is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - Key agreement adopted at 1992 Earth Summit, commits governments to maintaining the world's ecological sustainability through conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.


Ecosystem approach - The ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. Thus, the application of the ecosystem approach will help to reach a balance of the three objectives of the Convention: conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
An ecosystem approach is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies focused on levels of biological organization, which encompass the essential structure, processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. It recognises that humans, with their cultural diversity, are an integral component of many ecosystems.
Convention on Biological Diversity

Ecosystem - A dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit

Ecosystem diversity - The variety of ecosystems that occurs within a larger landscape, ranging from biome (the largest ecological unit) to microhabitat

Ecosystem services - The conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfil human life. Examples include provision of clean water, maintenance of liveable climates (carbon sequestration), pollination of crops and native vegetation, and fulfilment of people's cultural, spiritual, intellectual needs

Environmental goods and services - Much debated, refers to actions and products derived from human activity rather than benefits obtained directly from the natural environment. By a narrow, "end use" definition, includes pollution-reducing equipment and waste management; a wider, "production-oriented " definition includes environmentally-friendly goods, such as organic produce or eco-certified wood, and services such as eco-tourism

Environmental sustainability - Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Encompasses, e.g. keeping population densities below the carrying capacity of a region, facilitating the renewal of renewable resources, conserving and establishing priorities for the use of non-renewable resources, and keeping environmental impact below the level required to allow affected systems to recover and continue to evolve


Food security - Physical and economic access, at all times, to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life


Good practices - Any collection of specific methods that produce results that are in harmony with the values of the proponents of those practices. In agriculture, applies available knowledge to addressing environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm production and post-production processes resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products

Green water - That fraction of rainfall that is stored in the soil and available for the growth of plants


Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) - A process that promotes the co-ordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - A list of 10 goals (including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, improving maternal health and ensure environmental sustainability) adopted by the UN General Assembly. The MDGs commit the international community to an expanded vision of development, and have been commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress.


Polluter-pays principle - The idea that the person or organization that causes pollution should pay to put right the damage that it causes. Environmental damage may include land and water pollution but also damage to the biodiversity of any protected species or habitat


Ramsar Convention - The Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, adopted in the city of Ramsar, Iran, in 1971

Rights-based approaches - A conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights

River basin - See "catchment area"


Stakeholder - An institution, organization, or group that has some interest in a particular sector or system. Also: individuals and constituencies contributing, either voluntarily or involuntarily, to wealth-creating activities, and who are therefore potential beneficiaries and/or risk bearers of its operations

Sustainable development - Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs


Valuation - Techniques for assessing the value of goods and services not priced and traded in markets. Most applications are to natural resources and environmental assets. Valuation process includes identifying affected benefit/cost categories, quantifying significant physical effects, estimating the values of the effects, quantification/pricing issues

Vulnerable groups - Groups which would be vulnerable under any circumstances (e.g. where the adults are unable to provide an adequate livelihood for the household for reasons of disability, illness, age or some other characteristic), and groups whose resource endowment is inadequate to provide sufficient income from any available source


Water cycle - The paths water takes through its various states - vapour, liquid, solid - as it moves throughout the ocean, atmosphere, groundwater, streams, etc.

Water need - Also "water requirement". Theoretical concept defined by the necessities and purposes of the activity generating it, and the efficiency of water uses - for a given quantity and quality - in relation with the results. Therefore this need is usually expressed per unit (per capita, irrigated hectares, production unit). Is independent from the supply volume

Water quality - The chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water with respect to its suitability for a particular use

Water-use - Three types are distinguished: withdrawal, where water is taken from a river, or surface or underground reservoir, and after use returned to a natural water body; consumptive, which starts with withdrawal but without any return (e.g. irrigation) and is no longer available directly for subsequent uses; non-withdrawal, the in situ use of a water body for, e.g. navigation, fishing, recreation, effluent disposal and power generation.

Water-use plan - Sets out how water is to be managed, defines operating boundaries, recognizes environmental, social and economic values, and sets basis for compliance

Water user association (WUA) - Association of water users combining both governance and management functions (they are not the owners of the infrastructure).

Wetlands - Lands where water saturation is the dominant factor in determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities

World Water Forum - Sponsored by the World Water Council, provides a platform where the water community and policy and decision makers from all regions of the world can network, debate and attempt to find solutions to achieve water security