Committee on World Food Security

Making a difference in food security and nutrition

30 August 2022 | Remarks by CFS Chair at the session on Water-Food-Nutrition security during the World Water Week

30 Aug 2022

Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you today to celebrate World Water Week 2022.

Water is indeed life.

Life nourished through our food systems. It is little wonder then that 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture. That said, the relationship of food systems with water is broken:

  • First, over-abstraction of water causes local and regional water insecurity and leads to water scarcity;
  • Second, overreliance on rainfed agriculture makes us vulnerable to extreme weather events; 
  • and third, food waste and food loss, leads to wastage water and other resources.

Today, climate change, land degradation, uncontrolled urbanization and economic development, population growth, and changing lifestyles, are increasing pressure on water. 

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

This year’s commemoration of the World Water Week comes against a worrying background.

As we speak, most countries around the world, from Asia to Europe, from Africa to the Americas are facing the worst droughts in history: Around the world major rivers that are a source of livelihood for billions of people are drying up.

And while see droughts threatening livelihoods across the world, we are moved by the terrible news from Pakistan where 1,000 people have lost their lives as flash flooding from an extreme monsoon is washing away villages and crops.

All these unprecedented events threaten to worsen the global hunger and malnutrition crisis which is already dire. Moreover, the impact of climate change and conflicts is making even more challenging the management of the trade-offs at the nexus between water, energy and food security.

While our food systems exert the greatest pressure on water availability and quality, and are impacted the most by lack of water, they have the greatest potential for sustainable water management. Now, more than ever, how we manage and utilize our water resources will be critical to achieving global food security and nutrition. Hence, we need urgent action to strengthen participatory water governance; to invest in improved water management for food systems; and to promote sustainable utilisation and efficiency of water resources to ensure food security and nutrition now and into the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

despite the enormity of the challenges, I remain optimistic that we have what it takes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 2 on Zero Hunger. However, change will not happen in a vacuum. It has to be intentional, coordinated and urgent. Importantly, our actions must be anchored within communities, within local, national, regional and global policy frameworks.

As a start, I offer partnership with the Committee on World Food Security of the United Nations in FAO, which I have the privilege of chairing. Established in 1974 and reformed in 2009, CFS serves as the most inclusive intergovernmental platform of the United Nations that connects governments and all key stakeholders to coordinate and agree on global food security policies for food systems transformation. 

In this way and since 2009, CFS has delivered globally agreed Voluntary Guidelines, Principles and policy frameworks on a diverse array of issues, including on climate change and on water management for food security and nutrition. These policy tools are a valuable set of resources to inspire and guide governments and also individuals in the formulation of policies, strategies, legislation, regulatory frameworks and behaviours.

This is why I encourage all of us to promote the uptake of these global agreements.

And I also invite you to continue using the CFS global platform to connect with others, to discuss and agree on critical issues related to water and to showcase progress in your work.

We look forward to continue working with you to ensure that water issues feature prominently

on the global agenda both in the build up to the UN Water Summit in 2023, and in the global response to the food security crisis the world is facing these days, and of course, towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

I thank you all.