For the first time since 1977, water is given centre stage at a UN conference, and it is about time. Water is essential in climate adaptation and mitigation, for health and hygiene and, of course, for food. However, water and agriculture are often still separate worlds, both in the Netherlands and worldwide. WUR is therefore committed to putting the combination of water and food on the agenda at the UN Water Conference.
The Netherlands and Tajikistan are co-organising the UN water conference this spring, representing the Global North and the Global South, respectively. Among other things, Tajikistan has the largest glacier complex, and the highest and the largest dam in the world, and it provides 70 percent of Central Asia’s water. Tajikistan represents the source, while the Netherlands represents the sea. The idea is for the two countries to create a strong partnership around water.
Water and food
At the conference, WUR aims to draw attention to water and food. The topics we want to emphasise are:
- Developing seeds that are climate and water- resistant, which is something we do in partnership with SeedNL
- Recovery of water and the substances contained in that water
- Relationship between water and health: dietary guidelines
- What will we use the water available for? What trade-offs do we need to make?
Each country has its own economic considerations when it comes to using water for food security. What will you grow with the water at your disposal and who will you do it for? To feed cattle? To produce food for your own people? Water stress is everywhere. We no longer have a guarantee that supermarkets will be able to source certain fruits or avocados from other parts of the world if there are droughts or floods in certain regions.
How do you deal with salt? This is also an important factor, which plays out in certain areas, and it falls under climate resilience. But worldwide, a great deal of food production relies on fresh water. So that is what we need to talk about most.
Read more in the article Five questions about WUR’s contribution to the UN 2023 Water Conference.
The conference, organised jointly by the governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands, includes an opening and closing ceremony, six plenary sessions, and five interactive multi-stakeholder dialogues. There will also be a number of special events and high-level side events organised by member states, the UN system, and other stakeholders.