Ensuring Access to Water for Agriculture Vital for Sustainable Future – UN

ENSURING ACCESS TO WATER FOR AGRICULTURE VITAL FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE – UN
New York, Mar 22 2012 10:05AM Ensuring universal access to water and using
it wisely in agriculture is essential to end famine, drought and political
instability, United Nations officials stressed today, adding that countries
must strive to provide this vital source to all their citizens to achieve a
sustainable future.

“Over the coming decades, feeding a growing global population and ensuring
food and nutrition security for all will depend on increasing food
production. This, in turn, means ensuring the sustainable use of out most
critical finite source – water,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his
message marking
World Water Day.

The theme of this year’s observance is water and food security. Currently,
nearly one billion people suffer from hunger and some 800 million still lack
a safe supply of freshwater.

In his message, Mr. Ban emphasized that guaranteeing food and water for all
will require countries’ full engagement.

“It will require policies that promote water rights for all, stronger
regulatory capacity and gender equality,” Mr. Ban said. “Investments in
water infrastructure, rural development and water resource management will
be essential.”

A Senior Technical Adviser for the International Fund for Agricultural
Development (IFAD) in Rome, Rudolph Cleveringa, echoed Mr. Ban’s remarks,
stressing that securing water access is particularly important in rural
communities.

“For smallholder farmers in developing countries, water and land cannot be
treated as separate issues. If we are to reduce poverty in rural areas, we
must develop a holistic approach to focus on water in all of its
contributions to development such as in areas of health and agriculture,” he
said.

According to IFAD, approximately 70 per cent of the world’s water resources
are used for agriculture and by 2025 two-thirds of the population could
struggle to get access to this resource.

Meanwhile, a UN water and sanitation expert, Catarina de Albuquerque, urged
countries to address the right to water during the UN Conference on
Sustainable Development (Rio+20) taking place in Rio de Janeiro in June, in
which world leaders as well as members from the private sector and civil
society will come together to discuss ways to encourage green economies and
eradicate poverty.

In particular, Ms. Albuquerque called for all countries to recognize the
right to water and sanitation for all, stressing that countries cannot go
back on their decision to support this right.

“Some States, including Canada and the United Kingdom, are apparently
proposing the removal of an explicit reference to the right to water and
sanitation for all from the first draft of the Rio+20 United Nations
Conference on Sustainable Development outcome document,” Ms. Albuquerque
warned. “We should be marking World Water Day with progress, not debating
semantics and certainly not back-tracking on these issues.”

To mark the day, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is hosting a
series of events at its headquarters in Rome, Italy, which include
discussions on improving water management, reducing food and water waste,
and building up communities’ resilience to climate change.
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For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news