Natural Resources
     and Environment


The Land and Water Division aims at enhancing the agricultural productivity and advancing the sustainable use of land and water resources through their improved tenure, management, development and conservation. It addresses the challenges member countries face in ensuring productive and efficient use of land and water resources in order to meet present and future demands for agricultural products, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the land and water quantity and quality. It promotes equitable access to these natural resources with a view to enhancing productivity, livelihoods and ecosystem services. It provides assistance to member nations in developing policies, programmes, best practices and tools in the fields of irrigation and drainage, soil conservation, drought mitigation, water rights, access to natural resources, and improvement of land markets.

Integrated land and water management is promoted through the development and improvement of irrigated and rainfed agriculture and through a river basin management approach, paying particular attention to enhancing the quality of the land and water resources and to reducing the impact of extreme climate events.

Land management

FAO undertakes various activities in the area of land management, land planning and land use. It promotes the development of cost-effective methods for land and soil survey and classification including testing and identification of soil constraints; provides documentation, information and technical guidance for the assessment, conservation and productive management of land resources; maintains a database and web-based information system on land resources and land use at national and regional level for comparative studies and analysis; and advises governments and other stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of appropriate land use and land management policies, strategies and action plans.

Thematic website: Land Resources

Water management

In the face of increasing water scarcity, and the dominance of agricultural water use, FAO is actively supporting member countries and regions to enhance food security by improving the technical, socio-economical and environmental performance of irrigated and rainfed production, hence reducing pressures on already strained water resource systems.

FAO is therefore engaged in a programmatic approach to agricultural water management that addresses water use efficiency and productivity, and deploys best practices for water use and conservation. This approach is applied, throughout the system continuum, from water sources to final uses. Given the instrumental value of water to all types of agricultural production, NRL collaborates with all technical divisions of FAO in order to generate a coherent and comprehensive FAO-Water programme. This programme is specifically designed to make an effective and lasting contribution to the achievement of the related Millennium Development Goals.

Specific targets are integrated water resources management, water harvesting, groundwater, use of non-conventional water, reuse of treated waste water, modernization of irrigation systems, on-farm water management, water quality management, agriculture-environment interactions, water and climate change, drought impact mitigation, water and food security, institutional capacities, national water strategies and policies, river basin and transboundary waters management.

The Division further develops and maintains various information systems, including its continually updated water information system, AQUASTAT, and tools for analysis such as CROPWAT, AQUACROP and MASSCOTE , thereby contributing to the formulation of national and regional water management strategies and perspective studies.

Thematic website: FAO water


FAO - Land and Water Division (AGL)
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy
Tel: (+39) 06 570 53843