From Farmer to Minister: Sustainability Needs an Integrated Holistic Approach

  • 2016/11/08     Chiang Mai, Thailand

    Image: THAICID

    Image: THAICID

    Reporting by Atiqah Fairuz Salleh, Communications and Advocacy

    The sustainable management of resources in irrigation and drainage is only attainable if we apply a complete water chain approach and fully involve stakeholders from start to end and from farmer to minister.

    Speaking at the 2nd World Irrigation Forum, UNU-FLORES Director Reza Ardakanian addressed the key issues in managing resources sustainably and offered three plausible solution pathways, namely: managing increasing resource demands from various sectors, minimising the negative environmental effects of irrigation and maximising the provision of ecosystem services, and understanding the role of stakeholders in governing irrigation and drainage matters. Prof. Ardakanian was presenting the background paper of the Forum’s sub-theme 1: “Key Issues of Irrigation and Drainage in Balancing Water, Food, Energy, and Ecology”.

    Taking place 6–12 November in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this year’s installation of the triennial event focuses on the main theme  “Water Management in a Changing World: Role of Irrigation in Sustainable Food Production” with three sub-themes.

    Policymakers, experts, manufacturers, and farmers gather this week to address various multidisciplinary perspectives on irrigation and drainage and allied sectors. The mega event is also the largest business event relating to agriculture, water, and the environment. Not only is information being exchanged between experts globally at the Forum, but it is also a platform where the latest skills and products in the fields are being exhibited.

    Image: THAICID

    With the world population predicted to reach 9.1 billion by 2050 and global water demand projected to increase by 55% in the same period (UN World Water Development Report 2015), the big challenge in the coming decades will be to increase food production with less water. This is particularly so in countries with limited water and land resources.

    As highlighted in Prof. Ardakanian’s presentation, thinking within the water-energy-ecosystem-food nexus framework with water resources at its heart is essential. We need to adopt a more integrated holistic approach to understand and sustainably manage resources with the aim of producing more from less without impeding natural ecosystem services.

    Towards Food Security for All

    In line with adopting a holistic approach towards promoting and eventually achieving sustainable resources management, another angle to look at food security is in regard to reduction of food loss and waste (FLW). The latter is expected to increase food availability and if left unaddressed becomes a bottleneck factor by undermining efforts to strengthen agricultural sustainability.

    In the most recently published issue of the Dresden Nexus Conference Working Paper Series, it is further argued that reducing FLW could potentially have more extensive and cascading effects that would help facilitate progress towards wider environmental sustainability. In particular, it will help address several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    Image: UNU-FLORES