Nine must-read publications to rise to the challenge of safeguarding our water


Water is essential for every form of life. It is also an integral part of every aspect of FAO’s work: from agriculture to forests and fisheries; from climate change to crises caused by conflict. In a context of growing populations and food demands, increasing pressure from agricultural production and changing weather patterns, there is a widening gap in water quality and availability among regions. On the occasion of World Water Day 2018 on 22 March and the World Water Forum, have a look at FAO’s water-related guidance, tools and analysis. For further reading, see the Publications catalogue.

Water stress and human migration: a global, georeferenced review of empirical research (just published)
Water stress undermines societies’ place-specific livelihood systems and strategies. This review looks at the impact of increasing levels of water stress on human migration.

White paper on water accounting for water governance and sustainable development (release date 21 March)
Water accounting is about quantifying water resources and uses of water, much like financial accounts provide information on income and expenditure. Water accounting alone cannot resolve the problems of water governance and managing water resources, but it can go a long way to improving and reforming governance and providing the information needed to support sound decision-making.

Water for sustainable food and agriculture
This paper reviews agricultural and food markets, identifying rising incomes and climate change as key challenges to agricultural sustainability. Recommendations to ease pressure on land and water include irrigation modernization schemes and reduction of food loss and waste. 

Exploring the concept of water tenure
This report examines the notion of tenure in connection with water resources and proposes a typology of tenure arrangements. These include those defined by formal law (traditional formal water rights, water supply contracts, etc.) as well as informal tenure, customary or local water tenure.

The State of the World’s land and water resources for food and agriculture: Managing systems at risk
This publication analyses the options for overcoming challenges and improving resource management through institutional and policy measures, combined with greater access to technology for better resource management, increased investments, novel financing mechanisms, and international cooperation and development.

Towards a water and food secure future: Critical perspectives for policymakers
This FAO/World Water Council report gives an overview of the global outlook for water use in agriculture, particularly crop and livestock production. While water use in agriculture will remain substantial and the supply of land and water is likely to be sufficient to achieve global food production in 2050, poverty and food security will remain pressing challenges.

Water accounting and auditing: A sourcebook
This sourcebook provides practical advice on the application and use of water accounting and auditing, as fundamental initiatives to cope with water scarcity.

Water pollution from agriculture: a global review – Executive summary
This review points out the direct negative impact of agriculture on water quality and, in turn, on human health. It details different forms of pollution (from nutrients to pesticides or salts) and provides responses, including sustainable diets and reduced waste.

Watershed management in action: Lessons learned from FAO field projects
Based on 12 watershed management projects supported by FAO over the past decade, this report stresses the importance of governance, monitoring, knowledge-sharing and collaboration to ensure that watersheds fulfil their potential to sustain people and the environment.


Addressing agriculture, forestry and fisheries in national adaptation plans

Coping with water scarcity

Using remote sensing in support of solutions to reduce agricultural water productivity gaps – WaPOR beta release

Database methodology: Level 1 data

Database methodology: Level 2 data

Case study on the use of Information and Communication Technology in the management of rural groundwater in China

Operationalizing the Regional Collaborative Platform of the Water Scarcity Initiative to address water consumption, water productivity and drought management in agriculture