HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: Water and Food Security

03.10.2014 - 07.11.2014

In October 2013, the Committee on World  Food Security requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to prepare a report on Water and Food Security. Final findings of the study will feed into CFS 42nd session in October 2015.

As part of the process of elaboration of its reports, the HLPE now seeks inputs, suggestions, comments on the present V0 draft. This e-consultation will be used by the HLPE to further elaborate the report, which will then be submitted to external expert review, before finalization and approval by the HLPE Steering Committee.

HLPE V0 drafts are deliberately presented at a work-in-progress stage – with their range of imperfections – early enough in the process, when sufficient time remains to give proper consideration to the feedback received so that it can be really useful and play a real role in the elaboration of the report. It is a key part of the scientific dialogue between the HLPE Project Team and Steering Committee and the rest of the knowledge community. In that respect, the present draft identifies areas for recommendations at a very initial stage, and the HLPE would welcome any related evidence-based suggestions or proposals. We would also appreciate if this draft is not cited or quoted until it is finalised.

In order to strengthen the related parts of the report, the HLPE would welcome comments and inputs on the following important aspects:

  1. The scope of the topic of water and food security is very broad. Do you think that the V0 draft has adequately charted the diversity of the linkages between water and food security and nutrition?  Is there important evidence or aspects that the present draft has failed to cover?
  2. Has the report adequately covered the diversity of approaches and methodological issues, in particular concerning metrics and data for water and food security? Which metrics do you find particularly useful and which not?
  3. Food security involves trade of agricultural produce, and a virtual trade of water. Agricultural trade interact with water and food security in various ways, and differently for food importing countries, food exporting countries, water scarce versus water rich countries. Do you think the V0 draft has appropriately covered the matter?
  4. In this report, we considered the potential for an expansion of the right to water to also encompass productive uses. What kind of practical and policy challenges would this bring?
  5. Which systemic actions/solutions/approaches would be the most effective to enhance water governance, management and use for food security?

We are aware that we have not yet adequately covered, in the V0 draft, some issues of importance. We invite respondents to suggest relevant examples, including successful ones and what made them possible, good practices and lessons learned, case studies, data and material in the areas of: and invite respondents to suggest relevant examples, case studies, data and material in the areas of:

  1. Comparative water performance (productivity and resilience) for food security and nutrition of different farming systems, and food systems, in different contexts
  2. Water use in food processing
  3. Water for food and nutrition security in urban and peri-urban contexts
  4. Water governance and management systems capable of better integrating food security concerns while tackling trade-offs between water uses/users in an equitable, gender just and deliberative manner. We are particularly interested in examples that have enhanced social justice and also benefitted marginalised groups.
  5. We welcome also examples on how the role of water for food security and nutrition is accounted for in land governance and management and land-use, including links between land tenure and water rights.

We thank all the contributors in advance for their time to read, comment and suggest inputs on this early version of the report.

We look forward to a rich and fruitful consultation.

The HLPE Project Team and Steering Committee.

HLPE Steering Committee and Project Team ,

Dear all

On behalf of the HLPE Steering Committee and Project Team, we would like to thank all of you for your contributions in reviewing the V0 draft of the report, and your proposals and for the very useful and detailed comments received.

The HLPE Steering Committee and Project Team are now extensively considering the contributions made towards the finalization of the report.

Thank you for  the time and interest taken and your contribution to this important dialogue.

Best regards

For the HLPE Steering Committee, Michel Pimbert, Steering Committee member, Convener of the Steering Committee oversight for the report.

For the HLPE Project Team, Lyla Mehta , Project Team leader.

French High Council for Food, Agriculture, and Rural Areas (CGAAER) , France

Madame, Monsieur,

Vous trouverez ci-joint l'avis du Conseil général de l'alimentation, de l'agriculture et des espaces
ruraux (CGAAER)dans le cadre de l'e-consultation du HLPE sur la version V0 du rapport "eau et sécurité alimentaire".
Cet avis vous est transmis en français et avec sa traduction en anglais.
Nous vous en souhaitons bonne réception.

[English translation of the comment available here, Ed.]


Food and Agriculture Organization , Italy

The Food and Agriculture Organization appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Zero Draft of the Report on water and food security being prepared by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE), and to be presented at its 42nd Session in October 2015. In view of the cross-sectoral nature of the subject, which has linkages with the global goals of the Organization (eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; elimination of poverty through economic and social progress for all; and sustainable management and utilization of natural resources), the Zero draft has been widely circulated within FAO technical units.

We present here a synthesis as FAO’s corporate response to the Zero Draft, alongside more specific comments provided from thematic or regional perspectives. 

FAO Corporate Response to HLPE Water Report Zero Draft

FAO comments in the text of the Zero Draft

Jennie Dey de Pryck Italy

Dear Colleagues,

Sorry I didn't contribute before. I'm now attaching a recent publication I prepared for FAO on Gender Inequalities in Fish Value Chains.

The relevant points in this publication on Fish VCs for this HLPE paper on water are:

1. Pollution: agro-chemical pollution that gets into the rivers/fish ponds and kills fish or makes them unsafe to eat (see, for example, Box 3 and section 1.2 first para), industrial pollution damaging coastal and inland water for fish (section 1.2 para 7) and pollution from aquaculture that gets into the water table, affects/contaminates agriculture, and health/safety (section 2.2.2)

2. Women's poor access rights to ponds for aquaculture (section 2.2.1)

3. Women's time poverty (including their need to provision the household (plus animals etc) in water - often at long distance - and often not clean/safe either.  The time they spend fetching water reduces their time/energy for productive activities, child care (with negative impacts on child nutrition, health, well being) etc.

Best wishes,


Jennie Dey de Pryck Ph.D.

Senior Gender Adviser
Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)
Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP)

World Food Programme , Italy

"First of all, WFP very much welcomes the report of the HLPE. The nexus on water, food security and nutrition is very relevant and pertinent.

Secondly, WFP supports a broad range of water-related activities related to water for nutrition and health, soil and water resources conservation, water for food production and hazard protection. Between 2002 and 2009, 275 out of 732 WFP projects, or 38 percent, involved water-related activities. These activities took place in 69 countries.
In 2010/2011, of 341 projects supported by WFP globally, 113 (33 percent) included water activities. Projects which contained a water management component were identified and classified under four main categories: i) nutrition and health; ii) soil and water conservation; iii) food production; and iv) hazard protection. According to this 2010-2011 analysis, among WFP projects with a water-related component, 61 percent aimed at addressing drought impacts and 46 percent flood impacts. 19 percent dealt with internal and cross-border conflict, 12 percent with increased food prices, 5 percent with storms, and 14 percent with other natural hazards (earthquakes, crop infestations and environmental degradation). Interventions were implemented as response measures or as risk-reduction measures depending on the country and operational context.
In the context of WFP’s work in this area, partnerships with host governments (central and local) and other partners in this area are key, both for domestic uses (e.g. with UNICEF and WHO on WASH related activities), agriculture (e.g. FAO and others) and protection of infrastructure.

Third, the gender dimension is also very important for WFP as water quantity and quality relates not only to food consumption and nutrition, reduction of diarrhoea, but also to the reduction of hardships on women and girls tasked to fetch water from increasingly distant locations, especially in deteriorated ecosystems where most of WFP beneficiaries reside. By fetching water from distant locations, women and girls expose themselves to the risk of rape and other forms of violence. This protection issue might benefit from some more elaboration in the current draft.

Fourth, attached is a document that contains all the recommendations that the HLPE made to the CFS in this zero draft report, some of these might benefit from some more reflection (we provided two comments already)"

Groupe Interministériel français sur la sécurité alimentaire (GISA) France

Le document préparé par le HLPE est globalement satisfaisant : très documenté (nombreuses références), bien structuré, il présente l’état des lieux en abordant les questions de sécurité alimentaire et de nutrition dans le contexte du changement climatique. La distinction entre agriculture pluviale et agriculture irriguée est posée, les interactions entre agriculture et élevage sont abordées, l’agroécologie est mentionnée. Les questions de gouvernance de l’eau (conflits d’usage, politiques, droit à l’eau) sont bien abordées. Le rapport propose des recommandations s’adressant aux diverses parties prenantes.

Dans ces conditions, les remarques du GISA relèvent de l'amélioration :

- il serait utile de mentionner l'importance de lutter contre les pertes et gaspillages de produits agricoles et alimentaires, car cela participe à favoriser une meilleure utilisation des ressources naturelles (terre et eau) ;

- l'organisation sociale de l'eau mériterait d'être davantage considérée dans le rapport. L'eau n'est pas seulement un intrant et un facteur de production, mais un bien commun qui présente la caractéristique d'être un flux partagé entre l'amont et l'aval. Cette solidarité entre l’amont et l’aval, entre les territoires ruraux et les territoires urbains est un élément structurant de l’espace où les organisations sociales jouent un rôle clé. C’est pourquoi tous les aspects liés aux aspects sociaux et sociétaux devraient être encore plus documentés et mis en exergue (multi-usages de l’eau). Le rapport pourrait mentionner l’existence d’associations d’usagers de l’eau ou de propriétaires (associations telles que les ASA en France).

- au-delà du droit à l'eau abordé dans la partie "recommandations", le droit légitime sur l'usage de l'eau pourrait être développé, car la compétition dans les usages de l'eau est réelle et il est crucial que les droits légitimes soient reconnus. Une gouvernance de l’eau efficace passe par une meilleure reconnaissance de l’ensemble du faisceau de droits coutumiers ou réglementaires sur l’eau. Cette approche permettra notamment d’atteindre, comme le recommande le rapport, une meilleure connexion avec les régimes de gouvernance alimentaire et de gouvernance du foncier.

- Sur les questions liées aux investissements dans le secteur de l’eau, le rapport pourrait faire le point sur la législation internationale dans ce domaine.

- sur la gestion de l’eau, le paragraphe p. 27, lignes 25-34 insiste sur la tarification comme outil de gestion de la demande en eau. D’autre approches existent cependant et devraient être citées : connaissance, réglementation (autorisations de prélèvement, suivi volumétrique des prélèvements, imposition de quotas, économies d'eau), accords collectifs, réduction de l'impact environnemental de l'offre avec une démarche de substitution des ressources (stockage de l'eau en période de hautes eaux).

- concernant l’eau pour l’agriculture (p. 28 et suivantes), il faudrait expliquer dès l’introduction de la partie 2.1 quels sont les différents systèmes de « agricultural water management » au lieu de se focaliser sur la dichotomie pluvial/irrigué : le paragraphe d’introduction pourrait expliquer qu’un continuum existe depuis l’agriculture pluviale jusqu’aux systèmes irrigués, en passant par soil moisture / rainwater harvesting / supplemental irrigation (ces systèmes sont bien mentionnés dans la partie 2.4.2, p. 39 et suivantes).

- la partie sur l'agriculture pluviale pourrait être développée pour mettre en avant les bonnes pratiques permettant d'optimiser l'utilisation de l'eau de pluie. Des exemples pourraient faire l’objet d’un encadré : le SRI (système de riziculture intensive) à Madagascar, la technique culturale du zaï dans les pays sahéliens. Les recommandations 6, 7 et 8 devraient tenir compte des gains de productivité que l’on peut attendre de l’agriculture pluviale.

- La qualité de l’eau est essentielle mais la question mériterait d’être développée dans le rapport, qui l’aborde surtout sous l’angle des pollutions d’origine animale et omet l’impact d’autres activités. Les recommandations relatives à la qualité de l’eau ne peuvent être comprises que si elles sont précisées par d’autres arguments dans le rapport.

Concernant spécifiquement la recommandation sur l’application du principe pollueur-payeur, ce principe important peut néanmoins présenter certaines limites en terme d’impact sur la réduction de la pollution ; on constate ainsi en France une certaine inélasticité entre le prix des intrants et leur usage. D’autre part, il peut être pertinent d’utiliser les revenus générés par l’application du principe pollueur-payeur pour financer des pratiques agricoles bénéfiques pour l’environnement (en complément de la restauration des ressources en eau). C’est pourquoi la recommandation (p. 77) pourrait être nuancée ("increase application of the polluter-pays principle, which helps to reduce pollution and provides revenue for promoting environmentally-friendly agricultural practices and rehabilitating polluted water resources").

Dans cette même partie, il pourrait être recommandé de développer l’intérêt des paiements pour services environnementaux.

- p. 32, box 9, ligne 10, l'approche française pour 'formalized groundwater management' pourrait être citée également, aux cotés de la Californie. L’approche française est réglementaire et repose sur la concertation avec les parties prenantes ; les prélèvements font l’objet d’une procédure administrative, un volume prélevable maximal est affecté, les volumes étant contrôlés par l’État ; en cas de déséquilibre sur la ressource, des études sont menées afin d’estimer la réduction nécessaire des prélèvements et une réduction est imposée aux préleveurs en conséquence, après concertation avec toutes les parties prenantes.

- Le paragraphe traitant de la gestion intégrée des ressources en eau (§ 3.2.2) devrait être développé, notamment en ce qui concerne la gestion transfrontalière, en faisant notamment référence aux conventions de New York (1997) et d'Helsinski (1992). Les recommandations devraient par conséquent évoquer la GIRE, notamment la gestion transfrontalière de l'eau.

- La question de la gestion des eaux souterraines n’est pas évoquée. En particulier, le rapport mériterait d’évoquer la surexploitation des aquifères dans certaines régions (comme la rive sud de la Méditerranée).

- au point 3.5, p. 66, ligne 10, la référence au Forum mondial de l’eau est inexacte ; le Conseil mondial de l'eau organise le Forum mondial de l’eau tous les trois ans mais ne l’héberge pas.

- le rôle du secteur privé évoqué en pp. 61 et 66 ne reflète pas la notion de gestion déléguée. L’État peut en effet déléguer une mission de service public au secteur privé sans qu’il y ait appropriation de la ressource. C’est le service (garantir la fourniture aux usagers d’une eau potable pendant la durée du contrat) et non la ressource en eau qui est privatisé. Il serait intéressant de mentionner les travaux de Bernard Barraqué sur le sujet, qui montrent que l’implication du secteur privé dans le domaine de l’eau peut reposer sur des arrangements et des partages de responsabilité très divers et que les problématiques de gouvernance de l’eau dépassent la dichotomie public / privé (voir les références par exemple Urban Water Conflicts: UNESCO-IHP ;  Return of drinking water supply in Paris to public control).

- concernant l’efficacité de l’eau, (empreinte eau, eau virtuelle), le rapport gagnerait à faire référence à l’ouvrage de Daniel Zimmer (L’empreinte eau – Les faces cachées d’une ressource vitale, 2013)

- pp. 47 et 48, le paragraphe consacré à l’eau virtuelle souffre d’une approche trop neutre. Les implications des choix politiques (importations de produits agricoles, donc d’eau virtuelle versus maintien d’une activité agricole) ne sont pas évoquées, alors qu’ils  relèvent des orientations en termes de souveraineté alimentaire. Ainsi, dans les recommandations, la question du commerce comme option pour assurer la sécurité alimentaire (paragraphe 11) devrait être pondérée en prenant en compte les conséquences des choix politiques sur le niveau d’indépendance alimentaire et les éventuelles conséquences sociales qui pourraient en découler.

- p. 59, en ce qui concerne le stockage de l’eau, on ne précise pas les impacts potentiels des barrages en fonction de leur taille, notamment sur les écosystèmes aquatiques et les populations locales.

- réf. lien accaparement terre et eau : Mehta et al.(2012), Water grabbing ? Focus on the (re)appropriation of finite water resources

Private Sector Mechanism ,

Many thanks for the opportunity to review the zero draft.  Attached is a 10 page synthesis of the comments received representing thousands of companies via international associations and individual businesses.  We appreciate the time to review the document and to do this compilation.

We are eager to see the next version and hope the document will make good progress.


Government of the United States of America ,

USG Comment 1:

·         Question 1 (areas that the draft has failed to cover):  One omission we noted was a discussion of climate change and snow/glaciers.  A significant amount of “storage” of water, particularly for irrigation, is in the form of snow pack and glaciers.  Climate change potentially reduces this capacity by melting glaciers and causing earlier snow melts that are beyond the capacity of existing surface water storage systems.  This is a particular concern in areas of Asia with water supplies fed by Himalayan glaciers.

·         Question 1:  In addition, the draft fails to mention the promise of innovative agricultural technologies (such as biotechnology) in reducing water requirements, for instance through the development of drought-resistant and flood-resistant crop varieties.

·         Question 4 (changes in water rights):  For countries with national water plans this will be an easier topic to address.  The key feature of the U.S. is that most allocation decisions and changes in water rights occur at the state level.  That difference between the U.S. and other countries is important to note.

·         Section 2.4.4 (“Investing in Agroecology”):  We believe that it is inappropriate to highlight one particular agricultural approach as preferable to others, particularly as there is no agreed international definition for “agroecology.”  Moreover, as described in the draft report, agroecology includes political and ideological undertones that are inappropriate for this document.  Many of the claims made for agroecology are unproven (e.g., the preferability of “traditional” techniques.”)  Finally, many of the purported benefits of agroecology as described in the draft (e.g., fewer inputs) are not peculiar to agroecology.

·         Recommendation 5 (“Addressing Changing Diets”):  “Responsible food consumption” is a concept that would be difficult to define, much less to implement.

·         Recommendation 6 (“Fostering Sustainable Investment”):  The recommendations in this section inappropriately focus on “agroecological approaches.”  However, there is no mention of innovative agricultural technologies and techniques, including biotechnology.

·         Recommendation 11  (“Trade as an Option”):  While the paper appropriately recognizes the importance of trade in the face of variability in water supplies, trade should be considered an integral part of promoting global food security, rather than as an “option.”  Moreover, the first point highlights imports as a “strategy” to be used whenever natural resources are insufficient to meet local demand.  We suggest that the focus of this point should be shifted to recognize the importance of the global trading system to food security as a general matter, since a strategy of only permitting imports when natural resources are insufficient to meet local needs is inconsistent with an open trading system, and will undermine global food security.

USG Comment 2:

Page 19, line 18 and the figures are from JMP 2012, but they published an update in 2014, so would be great to have the latest MDG numbers in this document. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112727/1/9789241507240_eng.pdf?ua=1

page 19 lines 25-29  I think it would also be useful to note that even though the MDG is met, over 700 million people still do not have access, since the goal was only to reduce by half those unserved from the baseline to 2015. And there is also data on the problems with using a type of technology (improved vs unimproved) as a proxy for the goal of safe drinking water, particularly for microbiological safety - see http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2012/rapid_assessment/en/. Basically piped water is pretty safe, and protected shallow wells isn't, which you could guess, but it is a reminder that the goal needs to be piped water under pressure 24/7 to really protect public health.

There are other critiques of this indicator that they hope to address in the SDGs, including that unofficial settlements are often overlooked in the urban data collection so the coverage is overstated.

page 20 line 4, again, would be great to reference most recent JMP data (2014) for this document.

Your issue #4 in the cover letter is a huge challenge.  In the WASH sector, our position has been that water is free, but that there is a real cost to delivering water services. Different water service providers have used different ways of cross subsidies and grants to extend service to poor neighborhoods, but even then there are major definitional issues about how much water is enough water as a basic right for domestic use, much less productive.

USG Comment 3:

I recommend updating Box 12 to reflect the research presented on the situation in Syria to speak in the past tense. I think situation has changed on the ground, but no one knows. ICARDA, probably produced that report and may be able to update Box 12.

In general, throughout the report, there is a reliance on data and research that is old and may not reflect the situation on the ground. Not great for credibility.

USG Comment 4:

Thank you for the opportunity to review. The document presents a review of multifaceted food and water challenges very well, substantiated with appropriate references.

1.      The scope of the topic of water and food security is very broad. Do you think that the V0 draft has adequately charted the diversity of the linkages between water and food security and nutrition?


Is there important evidence or aspects that the present draft has failed to cover?

No additional comment.

2.      Has the report adequately covered the diversity of approaches and methodological issues, in particular concerning metrics and data for water and food security? Which metrics do you find particularly useful and which not?

Suggest recognizing how water use can be incorporated into the total factor productivity (TFP) metric.

3.      Food security involves trade of agricultural produce, and a virtual trade of water. Agricultural trade interacts with water and food security in various ways, and differently for food importing countries, food exporting countries, water scarce versus water rich countries. Do you think the V0 draft has appropriately covered the matter?


4.      In this report, we considered the potential for an expansion of the right to water to also encompass productive uses. What kind of practical and policy challenges would this bring?

Which systemic actions/solutions/approaches would be the most effective to enhance water governance, management and use for food security?

One facet of a systematic approach:  Recognize the links between groundwater and surface water withdrawals, and manage allocations accordingly.

USG Comment 4:

I suggest changes to Section 1.1.2 Water quality and food security and nutrition, the last paragraph of the section, which ends: 

On the other hand food production and processing as well as human waste (such as urine and faeces) impact water quality. Nitrogen and phosphorus are key water pollutants stemming from agricultural production. Both livestock and aquaculture production, when done on industrial scale, are associated with significant wastewater discharge along their value chains with potential adverse impacts on human and animal health and the environment (Delgado et al., 1999; Naylor et al., 2000). Appropriate reuse of wastewater, however, can reduce the cost of fertilizer applications, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen (Drechsel et al, 2010).

I suggest replacing that 7-line paragraph with the text below, and also adding the references cited:

On the other hand food production and processing as well as human waste (such as urine and faeces) impact water quality. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and a variety of pesticides are key water pollutants stemming from agricultural production. Both livestock and aquaculture production, when done on industrial scale, are associated with significant wastewater discharge along their value chains with potential adverse impacts on human and animal health and the environment (Delgado et al., 1999; Naylor et al., 2000). Appropriate reuse of wastewater, however, can reduce the cost of fertilizer applications, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen (Drechsel et al, 2010).  Studies are also available that link long-term pollution of surface water, groundwater, and near-shore marine waters to nonpoint agricultural sources; namely, the application of fertilizer and pesticides to crop fields (Dubrovsky and Hamilton, 2010; Dubrovsky et al, 2010; Gilliom and Hamilton, 2010; Gilliom et al., 2010; Preston et al., 2011; Puckett et al., 2011; Sprague et al., 2011; Stone et al., 2014).


Dubrovsky, N.M., and Hamilton, P.A., 2010, Nutrients in the nation’s streams and groundwater-- National findings and implications: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet

USG Comment 5:

Broadly, we would like to avoid any language that subverts trade agreements to rights.

The assumptions about meat production and food processing should not be highlighted the way they are in here.  There are alternative studies on meat production with different results.  The focus on food processing and not other sector processing that affects water is also an issue.

There are more lines throughout which are detailed below. 

Page 7, Lines 1-11: Suggest deleting references to changing consumption patterns as a problem. While this may be a factor, we recommend not taking the view that we need to produce less meat. Market prices should be allowed to drive consumer decisions.

Page 8, Lines 9-12: It is unclear from this statement whether irrigation will continue to dominate total water demands or if the competing factors listed will reduce the water available for irrigation in the future.

Page 9, Line 1: Please delete entitlement

Page 9, Line 49: Tools developed for water management should be optimized for local or national regions rather than standardized internationally as a one-size-fits all solution.

Page 11: Line 11: Note that production of food includes processed foods so the extra language is redundant; please consider removing "including processed foods"

Page 18, Line 17: Please delete “towards more livestock products.”

Page 19, Line 6-7: Drawing this linkage to a more "sustainable" system is problematic since the most efficient means are not widely agreed upon.

Page 19, reference 7: Delete final sentence, “The authors further suggest that increased water use per capita due to continued dietary changes might well overtake population growth as the main driver of growth in water use” as it is not required to make the point.

Page 29, Lines 31-35 and Lines 39-42: There are other studies that indicate the opposite. We would like to see a better representation of the results of those studies or deleting this section.

Page 33, Lines 35-36: Based on this USGS paper, all industries should be examined for impact on water, not just food processing, recommend revising or removing to be more accurate.

Pages 38-39, Lines 28-30 and Lines 1-7: Relying on one source may result in oversimplifying this issues. Recommend presenting a more balanced view by showing how veterinary drugs improve efficiency, and reduce feed use.  Also, feedlots use less lands, reduce land degradation, and are more efficient ways to increase size of cattle.

Page 44, Line 26-27: While this may be true, it is unlikely to meet the food demands of the future.

Page 64, Lines 40-43: Suggest not encouraging governments to subsidize the price of water - in this manner; it goes against international trade obligations.

Page 73, Lines 13-14: Delete

Page 73, Line 19: Delete “with increasing globalization.”

Page 73: Lines 32-47: Delete this entire paragraph. We do not agree to subvert international agreement on trade and investment issues to human rights treaties.

Page 81, Lines 42-43: Trade should be described as an option no matter what - it is not based on whether a country can't grow enough food.

Page 81, Line 46: Replace integrate with “Maintain open, rules-based trading system to meet the goals of national food and nutrition security through markets”

Page 81, Lines 49-51: Suggest “Ensure that trading systems use internationally-accepted standards to allow the flow of safe food.”

Page 82, Lines 2-3: Replace with, “Affirm that countries follow obligations of international rules based trading systems to keep markets open, which may help mitigate crises due to lack of food and water.”

USG Comment 6:

Below, in the order in which they appear in the 104 page report, are those sections of the report that highlight positions therein that are either contrary to the USG’s view on Customary International Law of water and/or contrary to our understanding of USG policy/legal positions on water resources.

INTRODUCTION – “The underlying issue is: who should get what access to which water when, for how long and for what 25 purposes? Answering this question is complicated and often controversial enough within a single 26 country. Yet this is clearly not enough. While it is often observed that “water flows to power”, it is also 27 clear that, because of the existence of transboundary basins, water is a resource that “ignores” 28 administrative boundaries (be in infra or supra national), thus complicating the challenge of sharing 29 water and of water governance.”

“In this report, two fundamental lenses are used to examine the issue of water and FSN. The first is the 7 human rights framework, particularly the rights to food and water, and how these two rights intersect 8 and support each other. In particular, we are interested in exploring whether the right to water can be 9 expanded to encompass uses of water that are directed towards the realization of the right to food. 10 The second is a lens that looks at the possibility of reframing the challenge in order to reframe the 11 solution – looking at issues of redistribution and equity, reduction of waste, and changes in agricultural 12 and dietary practices in order to ensure water for FSN.”

“1.2 Water resources 8

When we look at agriculture and food security, all forms of availability of water have to be considered: 9 rainfall, runoff and groundwater. Water basins are the pertinent geographic entity to appraise/measure 10 water resources (rainfall, runoff or ground water).”


* * *Governance is polycentric and 7 located across a range of institutional arrangements from local to global, requiring constant  negotiations across domains of power.

In this chapter we highlight that: 10

* * * *

2) The nature of water resources almost always span across infra-national or supra-national 14 geographical boundaries and areas (surface and groundwater but also upstream, downstream and 15 transboundary) as well as jurisdictional and administrative boundaries, complicating issues of water 16 governance.

“3.5 The emergence of a global water governance regime? 1

As discussed in this chapter, the allocation and use of water are not technical matters, but often driven 2 by political and economic interests. Taking this view, an analysis of the key players and the power 3 relations at the global level becomes a useful tool in understanding the water and FSN debate. While 4 most solutions to water challenges or exploitation of water-based opportunities take place at the local, 5 national or regional level, there is a complex network of players at the global level that inform the 6 dominant policy discourse in the water arena. Contemporary water governance at the international 7 level is an arena characterized by a high degree of political contestation, competing regulatory actors 8 and processes, and therefore a great deal of institutional ambiguity with few agreed rules or 9 procedures regarding decision-making (Franco et al., 2013)”

3.6 A rights-based approach to water and food security implies that people’s access to water and food is 2 protected by law and legal mechanisms.”

“3.6.2. The Right to Water 3.6.218

The now globally endorsed human right to water has been the result of intense global struggles since 19 decades and is a relative new-comer. Unlike the right to food, it was not explicitly acknowledged in the 20 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

3.6.3. Unresolved matters concerning the right to water 3.6.313

While the right to water now enjoys global recognition, it still remains conceptually ambiguous (Sultana 14 and Loftus, 2011). There have been many debates regarding whether or not it is compatible with water 15 privatization (Box 22).”

“3.6.6. Growing calls to expand the right to water or have a separate right 3.6.61 to water, sanitation and water for the realization of right to food?

There have been growing calls to elaborate a human rights perspective to land and to water that is 3 both more interconnected, more social justice oriented and encompasses productive uses of water 4 (Franco et al., 2013).”

“RECOMMENDATION 12. Rights to water and food”

USG Comment 7:

Section 3.6. The right to water and the right to food

·         Comment 1: References to “right to water,” “right to sanitation,” “right to health,” and “right to food.”  The Panel may wish to consider changing references to these rights to “rights related to [water]/[food]/[health]/[sanitation].”  Because the formulations of these rights vary between international instruments and documents, it would be more broadly applicable and more technically correct to refer to them in this way.

·         Comment 2: References to ICESCR and UDHR.  The Panel may wish to consider reviewing citations to language from ICESCR or the UDHR, to ensure that they are cited in full for accuracy and completeness.  For instance, the UDHR states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food,” whereas ICESCR states that “the States Parties to the Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food.”  These formulations, and the legal character of the two documents, are different and the Panel may wish to consider distinguishing them accordingly.

·         Comment 3: Use of General Comments of the CESCR.  When the Panel uses language from a CESCR General Comment or report, it may want to consider making clear that these are the opinions of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and not interpretations or language that have been agreed by States in any international instrument.  The Panel may also wish to consider clarifying this when quoting from other non-legally binding sources.

·         Comment 4: References to Voluntary Guidelines.  The Panel may wish to consider using the full and correct title of the Voluntary Guidelines (“Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security”) to avoid confusion or mischaracterization.  It also may wish to review any paraphrasing of the Voluntary Guidelines to ensure accuracy, and to consider quoting from the document to ensure that language and intent are accurately captured.  For instance, the Voluntary Guidelines do not “call on States to develop strategies to realize the right to food.”  Instead, they say that “States, as appropriate and in consultation with relevant stakeholders and pursuant to their national laws, should consider adopting a national human rights-based strategy for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security as part of an overarching national development strategy, including poverty reduction strategies, where they exist.”  The Panel may wish to review statements paraphrasing content of other documents as well, to ensure accuracy and to replace paraphrasing with quotes to ensure accuracy.

·         Comment 4: Characterization of “right to water”.  The Panel may wish to review statements about rights related to water to ensure that they fully capture the status of those rights.  For instance, on page 70, lines 19-21, the paragraph states that the human right to water is now “globally endorsed,” and on page 71, line 14, it states that “the right to water now enjoys global recognition.”  This is not completely accurate as written, as there are no legally-binding international instruments that recognize or define any such right.  Additionally, the Panel may wish to consider bearing this in mind in its discussion of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water and its recommendations regarding expansion of her mandate, as well as in its recommendation on voluntary guidelines to implement the right to water.

·         Comment 5: Status of UNGA and UNHRC resolutions.  The Panel should consider reviewing its references to UNGA and UNHRC resolutions, to ensure that their content and status is accurately captured.  For instance, UNGA Resolution 64/292 (referenced on page 70, lines 26-27) states that it recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights, but does not reference “access.”  Additionally, this resolution was controversial and ultimately put to a vote, with the United States abstaining, and was not passed by consensus.  Indeed, at the time, the United States expressed the opinion that “there is no ‘right to water and sanitation’ in an international legal sense as described by this resolution.”  Additionally, when describing the UNHRC resolution from September 2014, the panel indicates that the right to an adequate standard of living is contained in several international human rights treaties and that it is both justiciable and enforceable.  The Panel may wish to consider clarifying that the right would be justiciable and enforceable only for States that have undertaken such obligations, and would not legally bind States that have not done so. 

·         Comment 6: Section 3.6.4. “Convergence and Conflicts”.  The Panel may wish to reconsider this section, including its discussion of “prioritization” of rights related to water and food in the context of Article 2(1) of the ICESCR.  This article states that “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take steps […] with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present Covenant” – because States have recognized that economic, social, and cultural rights are to be realized progressively, using available resources, this may be a useful lens through which to view this issue. 

·         Comment 7: Section 3.6.5 “Rights under Threat”.  The Panel may wish to offer a more inclusive statement of the potential effects of trade on the enjoyment of human rights, including the potential for positive impacts.  The Panel may also wish to consider the views of States on the question of extraterritorial application of human rights obligations, rather than exclusively the views of the ETO Consortium.  

·         Comment 8: Individual nature of human rights.  The Panel may wish to clarify that human rights generally belong to individuals, rather than groups, in its discussions of water and food.

·         Comment 9: Mandate and Role of the CFS, UNHRC, and other bodies:  The Panel may wish to consider the mandate and role of the CFS and the UNHRC in drafting its recommendations, to ensure that the recommendations do not encourage actions that exceed their scope of authority.  

Normita G. Ignacio SEARICE, Philippines

Comments on the HLPE Draft Report on Water and Food Security

1.    The scope of the topic of water and food security is very broad. Do you think that the V0 draft has adequately charted the diversity of the linkages between water and food security and nutrition? Is there important evidence or aspects that the present draft has failed to cover?

The draft needs to consider seed issues or issues related to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, relating to water and food security. Only Line 53 in page 44 of the draft report under the discussion 2.4.4 “Investing in Agroecology” was the protection of seed varieties mentioned in passing. The importance of PGRFA in relation to water and food rights need to be emphasized.  PGRFA depends greatly on water and is the basic unit of all food. On the other hand, food security is greatly dependent on PGRFA. The interlinkages between PGRFA, water, and food security needs to be emphasized in the report due to the interdependencies of these three.

One of the seed issues related to water and food rights is the increasing production of patented seeds that often use up huge amounts of water, as compared to traditional varieties. The draft comprehensively emphasized the scenario of dwindling water supply. In the face of this reality, there should be a moratorium of the production by giant agrochemical companies of patented seeds that uselessly and needlessly require voluminous amounts of water. This is only proper in the light of the unarguable fact that GMOs and other patented seeds, since their introduction in the 1990s have not been successful in combatting world hunger.

The “water footprint” of patented  seeds vis-à-vis traditional and farm-saved seeds need to be part of the analysis.

2.    Has the report adequately covered the diversity of approaches and methodological issues, in particular concerning metrics and data for water and food security? Which metrics do you find particularly useful and which not?

It is humbly suggested that there should be additional quantitative data on how smallholder farmers minimize water use when practicing agroecological farming as compared to industrial farming. A recommendation to adopt the practices and methods of smallholder farmers towards the end of minimizing water use, such as the practice of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in rice cultivation will be appropriate. 

3.    Food security involves trade of agricultural produce, and a virtual trade of water. Agricultural trade interacts with water and food security in various ways, and differently for food importing countries, food exporting countries, water scarce versus water rich countries. Do you think the V0 draft has appropriately covered the matter?

No, there is need to furthermore discuss water and food trade between countries, and the impact of regional or international bilateral trade agreements such as the GATT, on water and food rights.

4.    In this report, we considered the potential for an expansion of the right to water to also encompass productive uses. What kind of practical and policy challenges would this bring?

The expansion of the right to water to also include productive uses will highlight the interconnectedness of the various human rights such as the right to food, right to livelihood, and right to environmental hygiene. It will not limit the right to water to  its priority and limitation, which is for personal and domestic purposes only, and hence within the sphere of health. It encompasses a broader context and embraces the multiple uses of water, beyond the personal and private sphere and more into water as a common resource that is vital in realizing the very basic right to food, subsistence and thus to life.

Considering the expansion of the definition of the right to water, to include the use of water for productive use,

1.    The quantity and quality of water for food production can be properly factored in. Considering that food is one of the most basic human needs for existence, the interlinkages between water and food security can be highlighted.

2.    WHO and other health organizations will need to reconsider and rethink the analyses of water needs on a per capita basis only. The quantification of water and food production and use on a collective scale will be challenging.

3.    Emphasis will be made to formulate and implement policies that acknowledge and prioritize water for productive uses.

5.    Which systemic actions/solutions/approaches would be the most effective to enhance water governance, management and use for food security?

Using the human rights approach in addressing water, land and food rights is believed to be an ideal step forward. The interconnectedness of these rights and other human rights show the complexity and at the same time the importance in addressing these rights.

In relation to the draft recommendations, there is need to recommend resort to the practices and methods of smallholder farmers in optimizing water use. There should be sufficient discussion on smallholder farmers and water and food security, since smallholder farmers are at the core of water and food rights. The draft provided discussion on the rights of women and girls to water and food security, it should likewise present a similar or more than extensive discussion on the rights of smallholder farmers to water and food security. The draft’s discussion on agroecology generally pertain to approaches but not specifically to the role of smallholder farmers in advancing and promoting water and food rights.

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) , Germany

First of all we would like to congratulate you for the “Water and Food Security” draft.

IFOAM appreciates that the inputs and suggestions sent by us were taken into consideration. In fact, the draft includes data, scientific evidences and case studies on the water efficiency in organic farming systems (as for example Hepperly et al 2007, Pimentel et al 2005, Pelletier et al 2008, Scialabba and Muller-Lindenlauf 2010, Verbruggen et al 2010), as well as in other agroeological models (as for example Holt-Gimenez 2002 and Fraser et al 2011).

But we are surprised that the recommendations refer only on “Investing on Agroecology” without any mention on organic agriculture although the references cited.  We suggest to change the subtitle to “Investing on agroecological models” and to include into the text also organic definition.

Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. (IFOAM General Assembly 2008).

Kind regards,

Cristina Grandi

Chief Food Security Campaigner