Preliminary Pages


The state of the world’s land and water resources for food and agriculture (SOLAW 2021) provides new information on the status of land, soil and water resources, and evidence of the changing and alarming trends in resource use. Together, they reveal a situation that has much deteriorated in the last decade, when the first SOLAW 2011 report highlighted that many of our productive land and water ecosystems were at risk. The pressures on land and water ecosystems are now intense, and many are stressed to a critical point.

Against this background, it is clear our future food security will depend on safeguarding our land, soil and water resources. The growing demand for agrifood products requires us to look for innovative ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, under a changing climate and loss of biodiversity. We must not underestimate the scale and complexity of this challenge. The report argues that this will depend on how well we manage the risks to the quality of our land and water ecosystems, how we blend innovative technical and institutional solutions to meet local circumstances, and, above all, how we can focus on better systems of land and water governance.

The interlinked actions and coalitions resulting from the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit provide an important entry to renew national and global priorities, and as a basis to advance the transformation of our agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

A meaningful engagement with the key stakeholders – farmers, pastoralists, foresters and smallholders – directly involved in managing soils and conserving water in agricultural landscapes is central. These are nature’s stewards and the best agents of change to adopt, adapt and embrace the innovation we need to secure a sustainable future.

I invite you to read the SOLAW 2021 report with a view to the fundamentals of all terrestrial agrifood production. Land degradation and water scarcity will not disappear. However, while the scale of the challenge is daunting, whether as cultivators of land or consumers of food, even small shifts in behaviours will see the much-needed transformation at the core of our global agrifood systems.

The new FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 firmly commits the Organization to promote the sustainable management of our vital land and water ecosystems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.

FAO Director-General

Dr QU Dongyu
FAO Director-General