FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO brings message of hope to Budapest Water Summit

Water scarcity is a pressing problem for the future of agriculture and food, but solutions are available for using water more efficiently. Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, shared some of those solutions with participants at the Budapest Water Summit today.

“As we all know, water is crucial for agriculture,” Rakhmanin said. “The sector, as it is practiced today, is responsible for 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the world. For this reason, agriculture is often labelled as a ‘thirsty sector’ – as an activity that wastes and pollutes water, ignores the value of water, and threatens ecosystems.”

Rakhmanin informed Summit participants about FAO’s involvement in the UN-Water coordinated GEMI project, a global cooperation addressing water scarcity.

FAO AQUASTAT is a rich database on global water resources, freely available online, he said. It provides baseline information that will be valuable as the international community measures progress towards the globally accepted Sustainable Development goals.

“We need to produce more with less impact, more sustainably, mitigating and adapting to climate change,” Rakhmanin said. “We already have technologies that allow us to save resources and raise yields while using water more efficiently. The challenge is to adopt them on a much larger scale.”

“Save and Grow” is a new paradigm for more productive agriculture that is being promoted by FAO.

By leading the work on a number of Sustainable Development targets – such as 2.4 on sustainable agriculture and 6.4 on sustainable water use, and co-leading 15.3 on land degradation neutrality – FAO is in position to push forward a more sustainable use of natural resources.

As proof, during the recent UN Climate Change conference in Marrakech (COP22), FAO launched a new initiative called “Coping with water scarcity in agriculture: a global framework for action in a changing climate.” The aim is to collect and make available already existing knowledge, technologies and good practices for tackling water scarcity.

During a high-level panel discussion later in the day, Olcay Ünver, deputy director of FAO’s land and water division, spoke on the topic, “How to manage every drop?”

Management of water resources is high on FAO’s agenda. In January 2017, the Organization will play a prominent role at the annual Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, which will have water as its theme.

Reflecting the successful adoption of Agenda 2030 and its goal on water and sanitation, the Budapest Water Summit 2016 is focused on implementation of global goals and targets related to water. Organized under the patronage of Hungarian President János Áder, the summit this year attracted about 1 800 participants from 117 countries. Attending are government officials, high-level representatives of international organisations, members of the scientific, business and financial sectors, and representatives of civil society.

29 November 2016, Budapest, Hungary