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Ecosystems for
water and food security




        International
        Water Management
U NEP   I n s t i t u t e
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
Ecosystems for
water and food
security




  International
  Water Management
  I n s t i t u t e


                      Quick Policy Guide Series Volume 2   i
CREDITS

     Scientific Editor: Eline Boelee (iWmi)

     Main authors: sithara atapattu (consultant), Jennie Barron (sEi-src), Prem Bindraban (isric), stuart W.
     Bunting (icEs), david coates (cBd), Katrien descheemaeker (iWmi-iLri), nishadi Eriyagama (iWmi), max
     finlayson (iLWs), Line Gordon (stockholm resilience center), Elizabeth Khaka (unEP), Gareth James Lloyd
     (unEP-dHi), david molden (iWmi), catherine muthuri (icraf), sophie nguyen-Khoa (cPWf), don Peden
     (iLri), Petina Pert (csiro), fergus sinclair (icraf), Elaine solowey (aiEs), Luke sanford (consultant), david
     stentiford (consultant), Lamourdia thiombiano (fao).

     Contributors: tilahun amede (iWmi-iLri), marc andreini (iWmi), stefano Barchiesi (iucn), malcolm
     Beveridge (Worldfish), Luna Bharati (iWmi), marta ceroni (GiEE), thomas chiramba (unEP), floriane
     clement (iWmi), Karen conniff (consultant), Jan de Leeuw (iLri), Kristina donnelly (aiEs), Pay drechsel
     (iWmi), alexandra Evans (iWmi), renate fleiner (unEP), mark Giordano (iWmi), delia Grace (iLri), mario
     Herrero (iLri), devra Jarvis (Bioversity), robyn Johnston (iWmi), tim Kasten (unEP), david Lehrer (aiEs), clive
     Lipchin (aiEs), abby Lutman (aiEs), matthew mccartney (iWmi), Bertha nherera (Pelum), an notenbaert
     (iLri), asad Qureshi (iWmi), sara J. scherr (Ecoagriculture Partners), Katherine snyder (iWmi), rebecca
     tharme (tnc), martin van Brakel (cPWf), Jeanette van de steeg (iLri), Gerardo E. van Halsema (Wur),
     Kees van ‘t Klooster (Wur), and others.

     Language editor: Helen cousins

     Layout: Jennifer odallo

     Cover photo: Karen conniff (rice field and forest gardens at arankele monastery, sri Lanka)

     Boelee E (ed) 2011. Ecosystems for water and food security. nairobi: united nations Environment
     Programme; colombo: international Water management institute.

     / ecosystems / agroecosystems / water management / food security/ ecosystem services / sustainability

     isBn: 978-92-807-3170-5

     Job number: dEP/1392/na

     copyright © unEP 2011

     Disclaimer
     the contents of this report do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of unEP or contributory organizations.
     the designations employed and the presentations do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever
     on the part of unEP or contributory organizations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city,
     company or area or its authority or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.




ii   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
ConTRIbuTIng oRganIzaTIonS



Arava Institute for Environmental        Bioversity International           CGIAR Challenge Program on
         Studies (AIES)                                                       Water and Food (CPWF)




  Commonwealth Scientific and       The Secretariat of the Convention           EcoAgriculture Partners
Industrial Research Organisation      on Biological Diversity (CBD)
             (CSIRO)




  Gund Institute for Ecological       Interdisciplinary Centre for         Institute of Land, Water & Society
Economics, University of Vermont    Environment and Society (iCES),          (ILWS), Charles Sturt University
             (GIEE)                        University of Essex




International Livestock Research       International Union for             International Water Management
          Institute (ILRI)          Conservation of Nature (IUCN)                    Institute (IWMI)


                                                                                      International
                                                                                      Water Management
                                                                                      I n s t i t u t e




 ISRIC – World Soil Information      Stockholm Environment Institute          Stockholm Resilience Centre
                                                 (SEI)                                  (SRC)




The Nature Conservancy (TNC)          United Nations Environment              UNEP-DHI Centre for Water
                                          Programme (UNEP)                        and Environment




        Wageningen UR                  World Agroforestry Center                    WorldFish Center
                                               (ICRAF)




                                                  E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   iii
TabLE of ConTEnTS

     PrEfacE ............................................................................................................................. vi

     forEWord ....................................................................................................................... vii

     acKnoWLEdGEmEnts ......................................................................................................viii

     EXEcutiVE summary........................................................................................................... ix

     1.      introduction ......................................................................................................... 1
             1.1.     Background and justification ................................................................................. 1
             1.2.     scope ............................................................................................................... 2
             1.3.     relationship between ecosystems, water and food .................................................... 3


     2.      food sEcurity ......................................................................................................... 5
             2.1.     introduction: hunger, access, and ecosystem impacts ................................................. 5
             2.2.     drivers and future prospects .................................................................................. 7
                      2.2.1. demographic drivers ................................................................................. 8
                      2.2.2. climate change and other shocks .............................................................. 10
             2.3.     the necessity of ecosystems and water for food security............................................ 11
             2.4.     conclusion: challenges for food security ................................................................ 14


     3.      EcosystEms ........................................................................................................... 15
             3.1.     introduction: concepts and definitions ................................................................... 15
                      3.1.1. Ecosystems and agroecosystems ................................................................ 15
                      3.1.2. Ecosystem services .................................................................................. 18
             3.2.     challenges to agroecosystem management ............................................................ 21
             3.3.     Examples of agroecosystems .............................................................................. 24
                      3.3.1. arid agroecosystems ............................................................................... 24
                      3.3.2. Wetlands .............................................................................................. 27
                      3.3.3. dry rangeland ....................................................................................... 32
                      3.3.4. aquatic ecosystems................................................................................. 35
                      3.3.5. tree ecosystems ..................................................................................... 36
             3.4.     sustainable management of agroecosystems .......................................................... 37
             3.5.     conclusion: recognizing agroecosystem services .................................................... 39




iv   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
4.      WatEr ..................................................................................................................... 41
        4.1.     introduction: water in ecosystems ........................................................................ 41
        4.2.     assessment of current and future water use ............................................................. 41
                 4.2.1. Water vulnerability, food security and poverty .............................................. 42
                 4.2.2. Water use in agriculture ........................................................................... 43
                 4.2.3. Water-soil-plant interactions ...................................................................... 44
                 4.2.4. tension between water for ecosystems and water for food.............................. 45
        4.3.     increasing water productivity in agriculture ............................................................. 47
                 4.3.1. increasing crop water productivity ............................................................. 48
                 4.3.2. increasing water productivity in agroforestry systems...................................... 52
                 4.3.3. increasing livestock water productivity ....................................................... 52
                 4.3.4. increasing water productivity in aquaculture ................................................. 54
                 4.3.5. Policy options ........................................................................................ 56
        4.4.     conclusion: tackling water scarcity in agroecosystems ............................................. 57


5.      manaGinG WatEr in aGroEcosystEms for food sEcurity ............................... 59
        5.1. introduction: the role of water in ecosystem services ................................................... 59
        5.2. managing agroecosystem services ........................................................................ 60
                 5.2.1. Ecosystem services in agriculture................................................................ 60
                 5.2.2. decision making over ecosystem services .................................................... 61
                 5.2.3. Payments for ecosystem services ................................................................ 63
        5.3.     managing water efficiently for ecosystems and food production ................................. 64
                 5.3.1. Efficient water management ..................................................................... 64
                 5.3.2. integrated Water resources management (iWrm) ........................................ 65
                 5.3.3. iWrm and ecosystem services .................................................................. 68
                 5.3.4. Practical approaches to water management in agroecosystems ....................... 71
                 5.3.5. Water for nature: environmental flows ........................................................ 71
        5.4.     Water management in agroecological landscapes .................................................. 74
        5.5.     conclusion: managing agroecosystem services for food security ............................... 77

GLossary ........................................................................................................................ 81

rEfErEncEs...................................................................................................................... 85

aPPEndicEs.................................................................................................................... 109




                                                                E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y          v
PREfaCE

     overcoming hunger and meeting the nutritional                 also generate services
     needs of almost 7 billion people, rising to over 9            such as flood mitigation,
     billion people by 2050, is a central challenge for            groundwater recharge,
     this generation. Equally critical will be to achieve          erosion     control    and
     this in a way that keeps humanity’s footprint within          habitats for plants, birds,
     planetary boundaries.                                         fish and other animals.


     Water scarcity is self-evidently one of the key               it also requires intersectoral
     factors that will limit food production. this is              collaboration, because
     especially the case in south asia and sub-saharan             only then can policies and practices change. the
     africa, where malnutrition and food insecurity are            overarching recommendation of this synthesis is that
     already widespread. in these areas, the livelihoods           future sustainability requires an integrated approach
     and well-being of poor communities are critically             to managing multipurpose agroecosystems in a
     dependent on their farm produce and the ecosystem             landscape or river basin setting.
     services from the local landscape that support their
     livelihoods and income.                                       these ecosystems–whether they are wetlands or
                                                                   forests, arid pastoral lands or rice fields–represent
     this background document and synthesis on An                  the future of food security and resilience against
     Ecosystem Services Approach to Water and                      shocks while offering a way towards achieving
     Food Security is part of unEP’s contribution to the           the millennium development Goals (mdGs) and
     global food crisis, pledged to the united nations             beyond.
     secretary-General and developed in collaboration
     with the international Water management institute             this document does not come in isolation. it is also a
     (iWmi) and other partners. together, we identified            contribution to unEP’s wider work and partnerships
     and explored the links between ecosystems, water              on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
     and food, and illustrate how resilient ecosystems             (tEEB) and a transition to a low-carbon, resource-
     can support and increase food security.                       efficient Green Economy.


     it is clear that enormous opportunities exist to              together they are all part of the urgency to evolve
     increase food production in ways that make optimal            the sustainable development agenda forged in a
     and sustainable use of water and other resources.             previous century to reflect the new challenges and
     this means that we can feed a global population               also the emerging opportunities of the 21st century.
     without massive and irreversible damage to our
     ecosystems. it also means that ensuring food
     security, managing water resources and protecting
     ecosystems must be considered as a single policy
     rather than as separate, and sometimes competing,
     choices.

     this approach calls for a fundamental shift in
     perspective and a deeper understanding of the
     enormous economic importance of ecosystems
     and the broad suite of services they provide. for
     example, well-managed agroecosystems not only                 achim steiner
     provide food, fiber and animal products, they                 un under-secretary-General and Executive director




vi   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
foREwoRD

By 2050 the world will need to produce                     Ecosystems also provide
approximately 70% more food than at present to             a host of services that
cope with growing population and dietary changes.          underlie food and water
this is going to put agricultural production systems       security. in particular,
and the environment under ever increasing pressure.        many ecosystems provide
competition for the water that we use to grow our          water        management
food is also increasing. in fact we are facing a           functions that are crucial
paradox of having to grow more food with less              to a stable food supply
water. additionally, we will have to do this causing       –these include water
less environmental impact than we do now. these            storage, purification and regulation functions as
critical issues define a critical challenge for the next   well as flood control. Ecosystems also need water
30 years or more. achieving food security is the           to support their functioning, but currently ecosystems
product of many variables, including management of         are not considered a priority water user or even
water, land, aquatic resources, crops and livestock.       a water user at all in many countries. one of the
Lasting food security – a food supply system that          main factors limiting future food production will be
can stand up to environmental and economic                 water. Water underlies many ecosystem services,
shocks – requires a holistic approach, with healthy        including biomass and crop production, as well as
ecosystems as a foundation. the recent world food          supporting and regulating services. it is also a key
crises demonstrated the vulnerability of our food          ingredient in enhancing food production – not just
supply and the need to improve its sustainability          through irrigation, but through better management
and resilience. too little attention has been paid         of rainwater and water for livestock and aquatic
to the importance of healthy ecosystems as key             food sources.
components of our food production systems. more
resilient ecosystems can support a wider range of          solutions to water access, land degradation,
ecosystem services, including water management             nutrient management and ecosystem services have
functions that are crucial for stable food security,       to be developed with a view to what works for
and become more diverse and more productive.               communities across landscapes, not just what works
                                                           on the farm. the international Water management
thus water management for food security cannot be          institute (iWmi) aims to improve the management
sustainable without paying attention to ecosystems,        of land and water resources for food, livelihoods
their functions and services as part of the natural        and the environment and targets water and land
resource base supporting agriculture. overcoming           management challenges faced by poor communities
natural resource management problems and                   in the developing world. in the new cGiar strategic
adapting to climate change will only be achieved           research program Water, Land and Ecosystems,
by understanding and managing the dynamics of              iWmi and partners focuses on three critical issues:
water across the whole landscape of interlinked            water scarcity, land degradation and ecosystem
ecosystems. Ecosystems provide food both in their          services. the current document on Ecosystems
natural state and in managed landscapes. climate           for Water and food security is an important
change and overexploitation, especially of water           contribution to assessing the important role of
resources, threaten the productivity of ecosystems.        ecosystems in increasing resilience and providing
Given that the majority of the world’s poor are            food in a sustainable way to future generations.
directly dependent on ecosystems for food, they are
the most vulnerable to environmental degradation           colin chartres
and climate-related shocks.                                director General
                                                           international Water management institute




                                                       E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   vii
aCknowLEDgEMEnTS

       throughout the process of drafting, reviewing and             have been recognized as main author or contributor.
       editing this document, various people have provided           in addition we would like to thank all others who have
       valuable advice. as much as possible, these people            given their support and assistance behind the scenes.




viii   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
ExECuTIvE SuMMaRy


Challenges for food Security                                provided to each of these needs in order to sustain
                                                            both functions.
With a growing global population expected
to reach 9.1 billion in 2050 and the increasing             Recognizing agroecosystem
impacts of climate change, sustainable use of               Services
water and ecosystems for food security is a
great challenge. it is important to gain a better           recognizing the multiple functions of agroecosystems
understanding of the functioning of terrestrial and         and the many services they provide is essential
aquatic ecosystems and their interrelation with the         to fostering an integrated approach to natural
availability and quality of water. this calls for a shift   resources management, agricultural production,
in the management of ecosystems and the water               and food security. the sustainable management
within them for food security. agricultural production      plans of various agroecosystems ranging from hyper-
systems have to be recognized and managed as                arid and dryland agroecosystems to wetlands and
a landscape of interlinked agroecosystems with the          aquatic ecosystems require strong policy support
potential for multiple functions                            and incentives for users. the services provided by
                                                            ecosystems can be optimized through appropriate
climate change impacts on ecosystems and                    land use planning that takes into account the limits
thereby on water and food security are highly               of each ecosystem’s carrying capacity, while
uncertain, and most forecasting scenarios                   multiple users need to be brought together in
suggest greater vulnerability to damage, reduced            common management arrangements to sustainably
ecosystem services, and undermined resilience.              reconcile the needs of food production and
Building resilience to climate change and other             ecosystems services for a growing population. thus
shocks needs to be mainstreamed into agricultural           food production can be made more sustainable;
planning to ensure food security targets. this is           more productive in terms of producing more
especially important for vulnerable populations with        food, services, and benefits per unit of land and
low adaptive capacity: poor women and marginal              water; more resilient to climate change and other
social groups in geographical areas at risk, with           shocks; and more compatible with sustaining other
limited resources, poor social networks, and low            ecosystems and their functions and services, such as
access to education, health care and other services.        wild biodiversity.

many drivers of global change affect water                  the ecosystem services framework provides a
availability and thus agroecosystems and food               useful umbrella for this endeavor as this can only
security, by limiting or taking away the water              be achieved by healthy agroecosystems. inter-
necessary for maintaining ecosystem functions.              sector collaboration at ministerial level is essential
this is a challenging development since ecosystem           to ensure good ecosystems care while providing the
functions and food security go hand in hand:                necessary food and services to communities. the
healthy ecosystems enhance food security while              situation now calls for a more balanced approach
degraded ecosystems decrease food security.                 in managing food security and its interrelation with
Healthy ecosystems are particularly important               ecosystem services: worldwide, ecosystem services
for the poor who predominantly directly rely on             are in a poor state and agroecosystems have lost
ecosystem services. Water is the important link             their capacity to recover from stress. food security
between agroecosystems and food security and                is further threatened by reduced yields associated
it is important that the right balance of water is          with depleted water quantity, reduced water




                                                        E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   ix
quality, and degradation of other natural resources.          while preserving the functioning of water bodies
    these factors also negatively impact on a range of            in a context of increased demand for food and
    provisioning, supporting, regulatory, and cultural            energy, is a real challenge. consideration of the
    ecosystem services.                                           various ecosystem functions in irrigated and rainfed
                                                                  agroecosystems is crucial, as is effective water
    However, solutions are available. Policy makers can           governance at different and appropriate scales to
    help to safeguard ecosystem services. accounting for          help ensure sustainable use of water resources.
    the benefits and costs of the full range of ecosystem
    services in policy-making and greater emphasis on             Water storage options along the continuum, from
    natural resources and water use efficiency in food            soil and groundwater to natural wetlands and dams,
    production will promote better decision making                can make water more accessible at different spatial
    towards more sustainable farming. in arid regions,            and temporal scales. this is especially important in
    new or local cultivars and appropriate land and water         rainfed agriculture, where other water management
    management practices can increase productivity and            options and appropriate farming practices can help
    restore degraded lands. in other areas the provision          increase agricultural and water productivity through
    of livestock herders with incentives can help to keep         various water management options. support should
    and improve the environmental services of semi-arid           be given to systems and approaches that ensure
    rangelands. the integration of crop, tree, livestock,         high water productivity as well as gender and social
    and in some cases aquaculture farming, can enhance            equity and contribute to closing the water cycle to
    resource recovery and reuse of resources for feed or          the benefit of many ecosystem functions.
    soil fertility
                                                                  sustainable livestock production systems should be
    Wetlands across the world play a critical role in             encouraged in order to respond to changing diets
    the provision of freshwater for human consumption             and the increased demand for animal products while
    and agriculture, while both fresh and saline waters           maintaining environmental flows and ecosystem
    provide food security by supporting fisheries,                services. the resulting improved livestock water
    aquaculture, and other related activities. urgent steps       productivity would allow more animal products and
    are needed to protect the rich wetland ecosystems             food to be produced without increasing the volume
    with their multitude of functions and services, as well       of water depleted.
    as the livelihoods and well-being of the dependent
    communities. monitoring of wetland functions and              for aquaculture, various practical approaches
    services is crucial to ensure the continuation of             and policies for enhancing water use have been
    wetland ecosystems and their important role in flood          developed in different geographical settings all
    protection, biodiversity, food provision, as well as          of which have potential to be useful elsewhere.
    many other critical ecosystem services.                       Greater awareness of these amongst producers
                                                                  and policy-makers could encourage more cost-
    Tackling water Scarcity in                                    effective water management strategies that would
    agroecosystems                                                concomitantly reduce animal, environmental and
                                                                  public health risks.
    to share a scarce resource and to limit environmental
    damage, it is imperative to limit future water use.           Managing agroecosystem
    important pathways to growing enough food with                Services for food Security
    limited water are to increase the productivity of
    water in irrigated and rainfed areas, in animal               to ensure food security it is important for decision
    husbandry and in aquaculture; improve water                   makers to support the management of agroecosystem
    management in low-yielding rainfed areas; change              services by taking appropriate policy measures that
    food consumption patterns; and (possibly) through             encourage the use of technologies and approaches
    enabling trade between water rich and water                   such as sustainable land management, integrated
    scarce countries and areas. increasing water use              water resources management, and more sustainable
    efficiency of crop, livestock, and aquatic production,        agricultural practices by female and male farmers.




x   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
for sustainable water use, water managers must               landscape can be hampered if agricultural
consider agriculture as an ecosystem with all its            activities are viewed in isolation and receive
services, and in turn consider how these services            disproportionally more water. the capacity of
may be impacted by water. agroecosystems are                 multipurpose agroecosystems will be enhanced,
huge providers of food, animals, products, services,         when the water quantity and quality are adequate
and incomes and, if they are well managed, in                for the whole range ecosystem services, which will
sustainable ways, to maintain ecosystem functions            lead to greater environmental sustainability, more
and benefit from the full range of ecosystem services        equity and result in higher economic efficiency in
could ensure food security.                                  the long term.

this calls for a shift in the management of water            key Recommendations
from water for food to water for multifunctional
agroecosystems, considering the whole ecosystem              integrated water resources management can
base of provisioning, regulatory, cultural, and              contribute to long-term food security by providing
supporting services. more research is needed on              water for agroecosystems and for non-agricultural
tools to analyze the potential at various spatial scales     ecosystems. more resilient ecosystems can support a
and over time in order to define an appropriate and          wider range of ecosystem services, including water
practical management approach.                               management functions that are crucial for stable
                                                             food security, and become more diverse and more
many of the recent synthesis assessments on                  productive. this requires the following changes
environment and water suggest that concerted global          in the valuation and management of ecosystems,
actions are needed to address the root causes,               water resources, and food security:
while local efforts can reduce human vulnerability to
shocks and chronic food insecurity. there is scope for       •	 Valuation of ecosystem services from agroeco-
actions at all levels: local, national and river basin          systems and non-agricultural ecosystems, so that
levels. recognizing the multiple ecosystem services of          these can be used to understand incentives and
agroecosystems, coupled with elements of integrated             trade-offs.
Water resource management (iWrm) at the basin
scale, considering all sources of rain, surface and          •	 Management of agriculture as a continuum of
groundwater, can be a powerful and sustainable                  agroecosystems that not only produce food, but
response to freshwater scarcity. Because agriculture            also deliver a whole range of other ecosystem
accounts for more than 70 percent of global water               services necessary for long-term food security,
use, agroecosystems are a logical target for water              in a larger and diverse, tree-rich landscape.
savings and demand management efforts.                          the integration of crop, tree, livestock, and
                                                                aquaculture production can lead to resource
to ensure that we have enough water for food and for            recovery in the form of manure for soil fertility
a healthy planet, we must go beyond implementing the            and fish feed, as well as crop residues and tree
known improved techniques, incentives and institutions,         fodder for livestock feed.
and invest in understanding the various ecosystem
functions and services, as well as their interaction,        •	 Management of all rain and runoff water sourc-
in the agroecosystems, that cover so much of the                es for multifunctional agroecosystems at river
earth’s surface. an ecosystem services perspective              basin level to support the widest range of eco-
to agriculture can also help in the consideration of            system services. With higher water productivity
agronomic questions such as crop choices and soil               in terms of ecosystem services (water for agro-
fertilization, but institutional and market issues need to      ecosystems), ecosystems will in turn be more
be addressed in these choices too.                              efficient in terms of regulatory and supporting
                                                                services for water (agroecosystems for water).
Water plays a significant role in the support and
regulation of various other services provided                •	 Application of adaptive Integrated Water
by agroecosystems. these uses of water in the                   Resources Management supported by capable




                                                         E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   xi
and empowered institutions to provide water                   water management to bridge dry spells, careful
          for non-agricultural ecosystems (water for na-                nutrient management, innovative field practices
          ture/environmental flows) and agroecosystems                  and adapted cultivars. more ecosystem servic-
          (water for food).                                             es could be provided by crop-tree-agroecosys-
                                                                        tems, if (a) diversity within the cropping system
      •	 Collaboration between sectors: multiple ser-                   as well as in landscapes is promoted, (b) habi-
         vices from agroecosystems require support from                 tat integrity and connectivity are maintained, (c)
         authorities and experts in, for instance, agricul-             the right infrastructure is selected, and (d) effec-
         ture, environment, water, aquaculture, forestry,               tive supporting institutions are in place for water
         fisheries, livestock and wildlife management.                  management and collective action.
         this is required at local, basin, national and
         international scales.                                      •	 In aquaculture and fisheries the provision of
                                                                       healthy aquatic ecosystems with clean and
      specific opportunities to enhance food security and              oxygenated water for physical support and
      increase water productivity include:                             respiration, seed and feed. if managed well,
                                                                       such aquatic ecosystems need, and in return
      •	 Strategic placement of multipurpose trees in ag-              will also provide, regulation of detritus, waste,
         ricultural landscapes to tighten water, nutrient              nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. in
         and carbon cycles that sustain soil and water                 capture fisheries, maintaining migratory routes
         productivity, thereby reducing pressure on the                and breeding habitats as well as sustainable
         remaining forest resources.                                   fishing practices are important. more ecosys-
                                                                       tem services can be provided in multipurpose
      •	 In dryland agroecosystems with locally adapted                aquatic ecosystems such as livestock-aquacul-
         cultivars, the holistic utilization of water and nu-          ture integration, rice-fish culture, aquaculture in
         trients, provisions for herds and integrated tree-            irrigation and water management systems, and
         crop-livestock management are all crucial to                  wastewater-fed aquaculture.
         guarantee ecosystem services in the long term.
                                                                    •	 In livestock systems animal management strate-
      •	 In wetland ecosystems the development of                      gies to improve animal health and survival can
         synergies with fisheries, aquaculture, livestock              reduce herd sizes, while feeding strategies such
         grazing, and horticulture and strategic en-                   as the use of crop residues and other waste
         hancement of tree cover without compromising                  products, tree fodder, proper selection of fod-
         the water regulating functions and other ecosys-              der crops and implementation of grazing man-
         tem services of the wider catchment, including                agement practices can increase livestock water
         groundwaterutilization.                                       productivity, while water quantity and quality
                                                                       can be conserved by, for instance, water point
      •	 In crop systems, where the highest potential is               management. more ecosystem services can be
         in increasing rainfed crop production, yield in-              provided in, for instance, mixed crop-livestock
         creases can be obtained over vast cropland                    systems with multipurpose crops and by inte-
         areas with targeted surface water and ground-                 grating livestock in irrigation systems.




xii   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
1.           InTRoDuCTIon


1.1 background and                                         ecosystem services can be an essential contribution
                                                           to the sustainable improvement of food security.
    Justification
Globally, about one billion people, mostly from            the understanding of linkages between ecosystems,
developing countries are under-nourished. most             water, and food production is important to the health
of these people live in countries that are not self-       of all three, and managing for the sustainability
sufficient in food production, in particular in south      of these connections is becoming increasingly
asia and sub-saharan africa. the livelihoods and           necessary. in many places, changes in the global
well-being of these people is critically dependent         water cycle, caused largely by human pressures,
on their farm produce, and on the local landscape          are seriously affecting ecosystem health and
with its ecosystem functions, to provide ecosystem         human well-being (ma 2005). Widespread land
services that sufficiently support their livelihoods and   degradation driven by bad agricultural practices
income. Water is a key driver of several ecosystem         is seriously limiting food production (Bossio and
functions, including biomass and crop yields, as           Geheb 2008). forest clearing or deforestation for
well as various supporting and regulatory ecosystem        agriculture has hydrological consequences and can
services. it is also a principal input in enhancing        lead to land degradation through salinization, soil
food production, irrigation being a well-established       loss, and waterlogging (falkenmark et al. 2007).
method of improving yield in many parts of the             fisheries and aquaculture, major sources of protein
world. use of irrigation in sub-saharan africa is still    in many developing countries which provided more
at a low level while rainfed agriculture remains the       than 2.9 billion people with at least 15 percent of
dominant mode of subsistence agriculture. ninety-          their average per capita animal protein intake in
five percent of agriculture in sub-saharan africa          2006 (fao 2009a), are threatened by ecosystems
and sixty percent in india is rainfed (ca 2007).           degradation caused by over-fishing, habitat
Productivity from rainfed agriculture remains low          degradation, pollution, invasive species, and
due to limited soil nutrient availability, occurrence      disruption of the river flow by dams. these pressures
of pests and diseases, and spells of minimal or no         have caused a severe decline in fish species and
precipitation at critical growing periods. several         production particularly in inland fisheries, thus
of these factors are related to degradation of             threatening an important food and nutrition source
ecosystems. in key parts of the tropics, agriculture       for poor rural men, women, and children (unEP
has continued to expand into forest and woodland           2010). Beef, poultry, pork and other meat products
areas, reducing tree cover and compacting soil,            provide one-third of humanity’s protein intake, but
causing higher run-off (ong and swallow 2003).             also consume almost a third (31%) of the water
With the impact of climate change, spatial and             used in agriculture globally (Herrero et al. 2009).
temporal variability in production is expected to          furthermore, pro-poor initiatives to ensure equal
increase, while overall food production is projected       access to land, water and other natural resources
to decrease, especially in sub-saharan africa,             and to their benefits have become crucial in the
because an increase in magnitude and frequency of          context of increasing commercial pressures on
drought and floods (Parry et al. 2007). improving          land. Whereas the question of rights is essential
water productivity in sub-saharan africa and in            to ensure food security for future generations;
other vulnerable regions of the world is one key           ecosystems, water, and food production also have
avenue to gaining food security for these regions.         to be managed wisely to prevent irretrievable losses
maintaining healthy ecosystems to ensure water             in ecosystem services and overall food production
availability and the continuance of other regulatory       (falkenmark 2008).




                                                       E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   1
over the last few years, the international community          some 70 percent over the period from 2005/07
    has released several publications which highlight             to 2050 (nearly 100% in developing countries)
    the need to improve water management for food                 (fao 2009b), in addition to global and national
    production (crops, livestock, fish etc.). some of these       mechanisms ensuring equitable access to land and
    have been summarized in an appendix and include               agricultural products. adding ecosystem restoration
    the unEP report on Ecosystem management and                   makes the challenge even more complex as the cost
    the environmental food crisis (appendix 1), fao’s             of restoration is generally extremely high compared
    work on Water, food and Ecosystems (appendix 2),              with the cost of preventing degradation and not all
    millennium Ecosystems assessment (appendix 3),                services can be restored (ma 2005a). increasing
    GEo 4 (appendix 4), comprehensive assessment                  food production translates into significant increases
    of Water management in agriculture (appendix 5),              in the production of several key commodities. this
    World Water development report (appendix 6),                  will not be possible with the current agricultural,
    international assessment of agricultural Knowledge,           livestock, forestry, and fisheries practices which
    science, and technology for development (appendix             are limited by insufficient amounts of renewable
    7), and the inter-governmental Panel climate                  freshwater per capita and ecosystems degradation.
    change reports. Each of these reports has played              Hence one way of securing sufficient and affordable
    a significant role in developing the understanding            food for all is a revisit of our current agricultural,
    of policymakers, scientists, and the international            livestock and fisheries practices, as water scarcity
    community on the environment and water. Each                  and ecosystems degradation may jeopardize the
    report has a specific focus, which creates a lens that        world’s ability to meet the needs of its people and
    it uses to view the interactions between water and            their health. the rapidly increasing and potentially
    the environment. the publications have focused on             infinite demand for natural resources, trees, land,
    issues such as efficient irrigation, ecosystems, climate      and water for the production of biofuels may put
    change and now there is a need to review all these            a severe burden on ecosystems, whereas climate
    reports, complement them with new publications,               change may contribute to more frequent and more
    and produce a consolidated message assessing                  intense global shocks. these challenges could be
    the importance of ecosystems in managing for                  addressed by recognizing that agriculture provides
    sustainable water use in food production. Global              ecosystem services beyond food production and
    change, with driving factors including population             making policy and management decisions that
    growth, increasing wealth and increased variability,          act upon that. in practical terms this would mean
    e.g. due to climate change causing shocks, needs              improving agricultural management, linking to
    to be addressed in view of the integrated relations           downstream aquatic ecosystems and creating and
    between ecosystems, water, and food production.               managing multi-functional agroecosystems (Gordon
    this document draws from the tools and ideas                  et al. 2010).
    expressed in the above reports, which have since
    been complemented by international publications,              as part of its contribution to the global food crisis,
    and seeks to synthesize their results and transcend           unEP pledged to the un secretary-General to
    the information contained therein.                            produce a policy document on Ecosystems for
                                                                  Water and food security, to which this publication
    as predicted by the various reports, the timely               provides background and further reading.
    supply and availability of food, fuel and water,
    and the deterioration of ecosystem services, are              1.2 Scope
    growing concerns. the recent global food shortage
    and other simultaneous shocks that hit the world              the target group of this publication consists of
    resulted in soaring food prices leading to increased          high and mid-level professional staff in ministries
    attention worldwide to food security. this trend is           of Environment and other relevant government
    continuously aggravated by population growth.                 and inter-governmental bodies, as well as other
    feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in           professionals in other institutions e.g. nGos,
    2050 will require raising overall food production by          bilateral organizations, and un agencies.




2   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
the purpose of this document is to show how                                                  of the services that they provide (regulatory,
sustainable ecosystems, explicitly including                                                 supporting and cultural ecosystem services in
agroecosystems,       are     essential   for  water                                         addition to provisioning services such as food
management and food production. this document                                                production), it shows their economic and po-
provides background evidence illustrating the                                                litical significance, thus the ecosystem service
3-way interdependence between ecosystems,                                                    approach is more likely to generate an under-
water and food security, demonstrating how                                                   standing of why and how ecosystems need
ecosystem management can be improved to ensure                                               integrated management and some require pro-
water availability and to avoid future food crises.                                          tection.
By looking at the world as a range of ecosystems
(from pristine nature to highly intensive agriculture)                                  •	 Environmental Flows – stemming from the con-
and recognizing their variety of ecosystem services,                                       cept of ecosystem services, environmental flows
agroecosystem functions can be managed                                                     in the context of this report are the water flows
sustainably for current and future food security. it                                       – at the right time, with the right amount and of
has become widely accepted that food security is                                           the right quality – necessary to sustain certain
not only a matter of food production but also an                                           ecosystem services, in particular those related
issue of equal and secure access to the means                                              to downstream wetlands and aquatic habitats.
of production and to food products (fao 2010).
this document focuses primarily on how to achieve                                       •	 Agriculture as an ecosystem: agroecosystems –
sustainable food production from a biophysical                                             this idea views agriculture as a set of human
perspective and does not address per se the key                                            practices embedded in and part of its own eco-
social and institutional issues related with food                                          system that has certain ecosystem needs, func-
security1. several of those are however highlighted                                        tions and services and interacts with other eco-
throughout the text in order to remind the reader that                                     systems. it moves away from viewing agricul-
these remain a critical component to ensure food                                           ture as an isolated activity towards regarding
security for the poor and socially-disadvantaged                                           it as a part of many interconnected landscape
groups.                                                                                    elements.

it is hoped that this document will help policy makers                                  •	 Climate change as a water sector driver –
to understand agriculture in terms of ecosystem                                            Because climate change has experienced a
functions and services and provide background                                              meteoric ascent in public awareness and in
and guidance for sound decision making in order to                                         funding for study, all of these reports include an
create efficient ecosystems for water management                                           aspect of the effects of climate change on the
and for food production. in this, it builds on the                                         water sector (see chapter 2 for more details).
new paradigms or views on the environment and
the water sector as developed in various recent                                         •	 Food security as outcome of sustainable ecosys-
assessments (ma 2005; ca 2007; unEP 2007,                                                  tem management – By applying the ecosystem
2009b, 2010; mcintyre et al. 2008; WWa                                                     services framework to agroecosystems, water
2006, 2009; nellemann et al. 2009). central to                                             can be managed in a more sustainable way,
these new paradigms or views are:                                                          increasing food security and livelihood benefits
                                                                                           while minimizing (or ideally reversing) environ-
•	 Ecosystem Services – ecosystems provide im-                                             mental deterioration.
   portant services to the agriculture sector and
   society. When ecosystems are viewed in terms                                         this report on ecosystems for water and food
                                                                                        security will take an ecosystem perspective, where
1   Similar considerations hold true for water security or water safety, more           agroecosystems are seen as providers of food
    commonly addressed in drinking water supply literature. In addition, another        security and of water, contrary to other studies that
    topic that is relevant but will not be discussed in much detail here is the
    concept of carbon sequestration and the role of ecosystems in storing carbon.       place ecosystems more at the receiving end.




                                                                                    E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   3
1.3. Relationship between                                                              approach is required and what this should entail.
                                                                                             these are also the three main areas (separate
           Ecosystems, water, and
                                                                                             sectors in some countries) that require change: food
           food                                                                              production (crops, fish, livestock), environmental
      this document is structured to show the relationships                                  protection and sustainable management, and water
      between ecosystems, water, and food (figure 1).                                        resources management, respectively. the synthesis
      Hence it starts with chapters on food security (2),                                    chapter (5) then explains how agroecosystems
      ecosystems (3) and water (4) that each provide more                                    provide water and other services for food security.
      insight into the reasons why an integrated ecosystem                                   there is some deliberate overlap between chapters
                                                                                             so they can be read independently.


                                                                                                                         agroecosystem	
  

                                   ecosystem	
  
                                                                                                                                   water	
  

                          water	
                        food	
  

                                             agri-­‐	
  
                                            culture	
                                                         ecosystem	
                                food	
  
                                                                                                               services	
                                security	
  




      Figure 1. Water and food as dimensions of ecosystems (left), with agriculture as subset of food (production), and the role of water for food security and other ecosystem
      services in an agroecosystem (right).


    Figure	
  1.	
  Water	
  and	
  food	
  as	
  dimensions	
  of	
  ecosystems	
  (le7),	
  with	
  agriculture	
  as	
  
    subset	
  of	
  food	
  (produc=on),	
  and	
  the	
  role	
  of	
  water	
  for	
  food	
  security	
  and	
  other	
  
    ecosystem	
  services	
  in	
  an	
  agroecosystem	
  (right).	
  
    	
  




4     E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
2. fooD SECuRITy

2.1 Introduction: Hunger,                                      century faces multiple challenges: it has to produce
                                                               more food and fiber to feed a population expected to
    access, and Ecosystem
                                                               grow by over a third (or 2.3 billion people) between
    Impacts                                                    2009 and 2050, more feedstock for a potentially
food security, meaning access to adequate food                 huge bioenergy market, contribute to overall
for all, at all times, requires inter-alia sustainable         development in the many agriculture-dependent
and increased production and productivity in the               developing countries, adopt more sustainable
agricultural sectors well as more equitable distribution       production methods and adapt to climate change”.
of food produced. Hence food security is the product           the latest fao estimates indicate that over the
of many variables including physical factors such as           same period agricultural production needs to grow
climate, soil type and water availability; management          by 70% to feed this population, because of a shift
of these and other natural resources (water, land,             in demand towards higher value products of lower
aquatic resources, trees and livestock), at the level          caloric content, and an increased use of crop output
of fields, landscapes and river basins; and losses             as feed for the rising meat demand (fao 2009b). at
and waste along the value chain. it also requires              the same time the adaptation of the agriculture sector
adequate policies and institutions in the many sectors         to climate change will be costly but is necessary for
that influence the ability of men and women to                 food security, poverty reduction, and the maintenance
produce and purchase food, and the ability of their            of ecosystem services. in such a context sustainable
families to derive adequate nutrition from it.                 use and management of water and biodiversity
                                                               resources in agroecosystems play a decisive role in
according to the fao High Level Experts panel on               providing food and income for a growing population
food security (fao 2009b), “agriculture in the 21st            (nellemann et al. 2009; fao and Par 2011).



                                                                                                                      Photo: Stuart W Bunting




Harvesting fish in peri-urban Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.




                                                           E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y                      5
a sustainable increase in food production has to                                      despite 10 years of global commitment to reduce
    be coupled with pro-poor policies which give to                                       hunger, the number of hungry (as measured through
    men and women the rights and means to access                                          mdG target 1a) remains more or less the same as
    the resource base for sufficient and adequate food                                    estimated during the base year of 1990 (figure 2).
    production or the rights and means to access food                                     significant gains have been achieved in the past
    products. more than 40 countries already have                                         twenty years, as the relative share of hungry people
    the right to food entrenched in their constitutions                                   has decreased from around 20% of developing
    (mcclain-nhlapo 2004). a rights-based approach                                        country populations in 1990 to a current 15%
    to food security requires identifying men and women                                   (fao 2010), though according to other sources this
    more at risk of hunger and creating the enabling                                      seems to be rising again. still, about 925 million
    environment for them to produce or access food,                                       people do not have sufficient food and 98% of these
    through targeted policies.                                                            live in developing countries (figure 3). sixty-five




                                                         FAO Hunger Map 2010
    Figure 2. Trends in numbers and percentages of undernourished people in the world for the period from 1969 to 2009, compared to the MDG target of halving the number
    of hungry people (based on FAO 2010).
                                                 Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries




    Source: FAOSTAT 2010 (www.fao.org/hunger)
                                                                Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries (2005-07)

                                                                       Very high (undernourishment 35% and above)

                                                                       High (undernourishment 25-34%)

                                                                       Moderately high (undernourishment 15-24%)

                                                                       Moderately low (undernourishment 5-14%)

                                                                       Very low (undernourishment below 5%)

                                                                       Missing or insufficient data

    Figure 3. Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries (2005-2007) (FAOSTAT 2010; www.fao.org/hunger).




6   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
percent of the world’s hungry live in india, china,        irrigated food production systems to meet in-country
democratic republic of congo, Bangladesh,                  food demand, or potentially have opportunities
indonesia, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. Women account           in either rainfed agricultural management, or in
for about 60% of global hunger. malnutrition and           irrigation development (rockström et al 2009).
hunger-related diseases cause the death of about           access and control over land, water and produced
7 million children annually. child malnutrition costs      capitals (e.g. financial capital, technologies) are
developing countries 20 to 30 million usd per              also key factors to achieve the mdGs and increase
year. apart from lack of calories, diets deficient in      water productivity in a way that will benefit the
zinc, vitamin a, iron, and iodine impair the health        poor, notably women (un 2009). these different
of up to 2 billion people. achieving food security         opportunities for the appropriation of water for food
for all is necessary and vital for human well-being        security may have quite different impacts on water
globally (WfP 2010).                                       resource appropriation in different countries, as well
                                                           as on downstream flows, ultimately affecting various
the sudden increase in food prices that 2006/07            water-related ecosystem services and functions. a
brought, was largely unanticipated, and has                comprehensive analysis of the need for water for
become a driver in water and food sectors (von             food, and the potential impacts on water-dependent
Braun 2007). it was caused by a variety of factors         ecosystem services in various landscapes is not yet
including “rising demand, shifting diets, droughts,        available on aggregated global level.
increased cost of agricultural inputs, and policies
that encourage use of agricultural land and output         2.2 Drivers and future
for bioenergy production” (WWa 2009). this has
                                                               Prospects
resulted in an increased burden on the poor, who
already spend one half to three quarters of their          demand for the world’s increasingly scarce water
income on food. major food producing countries             supply is rising rapidly, affecting its availability for
have restricted exports of food to keep costs down         food production and putting global food security at
domestically, which has raised international food          risk (rosegrant et al. 2002). the increasing world
prices even more. While increased food costs will          population and their improving wealth as major
likely push governments to invest more in agricultural     drivers of future change will continue to increase
productivity, this will take years to offset the current   pressure on the natural resource base (Godfray
high food prices (WWa 2009).                               et al. 2010b). inequities in access to land, trees
                                                           and water are likely to increase in the absence of
Efforts to meet the mdG of halving hunger                  policies ensuring equitable rights for all. the average
(compared to 1990) in 92 developing countries by           availability of land, forest resources and water per
2015 will have significant impact on water flows,          person will continue to decline, especially for the
possibly on water quality and most likely on water-        poor men and for women, which in turn compels
dependent ecosystem services. Global estimates             us to increase equitably the efficient use of natural
on the water needed for meeting the mdG target             resources. another major driver is climate variability
on hunger suggest that the current appropriation           that causes shocks to the food and other systems,
of circa 4,500 km3 annually for food, needs to             such as finance, energy and health systems. the
increase to 6,700 km3 annually by 2015 and to              poor, women and marginal groups are particularly
8,660 km3 by 2030 (rockström et al. 2007). some            vulnerable to loss of livelihood and assets and hunger
of this additional water needs may be mobilized            in the face of climate variability and change (cannon
through water savings such as improved water               et al. 2003). Variation in climate vulnerability
productivity, in particular in currently low yielding      is place-based, depending on social inequality,
agroecosystems. the distribution pattern of water          unequal access to resources, poor infrastructure, lack
is uneven and inequitable. there are fundamental           of representation, and inadequate social security,
differences in opportunities between as well as            early warning or planning systems (ribot 2009).
within countries, depending on whether they are
projected to be under absolute water stress, with          in the millennium Ecosystem assessment, drivers
limited opportunity to develop either rainfed or           were defined as any natural or human-induced




                                                       E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   7
Figure 4. Expected areas of population growth and decline 2010-2050 (IWMI, based on UNFPA 2010).

    factor that directly or indirectly causes a change                              in the developing world, populations are rapidly
    in an ecosystem (carpenter et al. 2006). such                                   increasing, reducing food security and nutrition (von
    drivers can be observed at global and local scales,                             Braun 2007). in Europe and East asia, populations
    ultimately putting direct or indirect pressure on the                           are aging rapidly2, and in much of the developed
    management of our natural resources (nelson et al.                              world, populations are stable or declining (WWa
    2006). Key global drivers discussed in this section                             2009). Water resources development cannot
    center around food security, and, to a limited extent,                          keep up with population growth and hence water
    energy, as major influences affecting water demand                              scarcity, defined as less than 1000 cubic meters
    and increasing pressure on ecosystems.                                          available water resources per capita per year, is
                                                                                    increasing (Khosh-chashm 2000). unfortunately,
    2.2.1 Demographic drivers                                                       most of the population increases will occur in water
                                                                                    stressed areas with fragile ecosystems–in africa
    obviously, the main driver relating to food security                            and the middle East, hence further increasing local
    is demographic pressure: in order to feed 9 billion                             water scarcity (figure 4).
    people by 2050, food production has to increase.
    since a higher number of people means the                                       one of the traditional coping strategies to deal with
    consumption of more resources and population                                    environmental stress has been migration, another
    growth under current scenarios will lead to reduced                             important demographic driver. While earlier reports
    food security, increased water use, more pollution of                           suggested that climate change would be a main
    the natural resources and ecosystem degradation.                                driver of migration, in reality socio-economic
    this will result in destruction of natural habitats such                        circumstances are the key determinants (tacoli
    as forest, in favor of land for people and crops. as                            2011). Hence migration could be defined as an
    access to forest resources declines there is pressure                           adaptive response to diversify sources of income.
    on rural people to derive forest products, such                                 as people become more vulnerable to variability
    as fuel, fodder and timber from farm land, often                                in natural resources, mobility patterns may change
    meaning that these products compete with food                                   with regard to distance, duration and type of
    crops if not tightly managed (muthuri et al. 2005).                             migrants. international migrants have an impact
    agroecosystems tend to use more water than                                      on urbanization in their country of origin, as they
    natural ecosystems, and higher production is often                              tend to invest in small and medium towns, attracting
    associated with higher water use, so that increased                             local, often seasonal, migrants (tacoli 2011).
    food requirements for a growing population put a
    huge stress on water resources (ca 2007). the
    challenge is therefore to improve water productivity                            2    While aging populations might appear to be outside of the drivers affecting
    at the landscape or river basin level, especially for                                the water sector, older people require more medical help, and water that is
                                                                                         better sanitized (WWA 2009). This will increase the water needs of aging
    the rapidly growing populations in the drier areas                                   populations slightly, though this effect is most likely marginal as compared
    of many developing countries (ong et al. 2006).                                      to that of global population growth.




8   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
in 2008 the world’s population was split evenly          varies between 1–1.5 kg GE/person/day for a
between urban and rural dwellers. By 2030                vegetarian diet (using 1000–1500 liters of water)
there will be 1.8 billion more urban dwellers,           and 4–5 kg GE/p/d in wealthy societies (meat
and 100 million fewer rural inhabitants (WWa             rich diet; using 4000–5000 liter). under current
2009). urbanization, foreseen to continue at an          agricultural practices this would also result in an
accelerating pace, is expected to account for 70         increasing demand for land (up to 200 million ha
percent of world population in 2050. as people           additional by 2030) (Bindraban et al. 2010b).
move to cities, their energy needs increase as           this does not even consider the impact of people’s
urban middle and upper classes begin to use              need for fibers and fuel in the light of generally
personal cars for transportation, use more electricity   declining forest area. since 2000, production of
at home, and consume more energy-intensive diets         biofuels, particularly ethanol and biodiesel for use
(more meat and processed foods) (Kearney 2010).          in the transport sector, has tripled and is projected
demand for aquaculture products like fish and            to double again within the next decade (fao
shrimp continues to rise (ca 2007), endangering          2008a). this increase has been driven largely by
the health of aquatic ecosystems in many areas           policy support measures in the developed countries,
(Hoanh et al. 2010). Wealthier urban inhabitants         seeking to mitigate climate change, enhance energy
are likely to consume both more calories and higher      security, and support the agricultural sector. if the
protein diets (especially dairy and meat products        world switches from fossil fuels to the production
that have higher water requirements per calorie)         of biofuels, this will have immense impacts on
than their rural counterparts (von Braun 2007; de        ecosystems and water availability (de fraiture
fraiture and Wichelns 2010). this will increase          et al. 2008; Bindraban et al. 2009a). currently
and concentrate food demands (cirera and masset          biofuels account for 0.2% of total global energy
2010). urbanization also increases the reliance on       consumption, 1.5% of total road transport fuels, 2%
sanitation and water storage as more people need         of global cropland, 7% of global coarse grain use
water in one place. this in turn will increase water     and 9% of global vegetable oil use (fao 2008b).
pollution and increase the amount of pollutants
that the water is exposed to. in addition, large
urban areas covered with impervious surfaces
will increase the risk of flood disasters. increases
in energy consumption will put more pressure on
the environment to generate more energy (e.g.
hydropower). People living in cities also produce
more waste in higher concentrations than those in
rural areas. they tend to use products that require
more processing, and consume food that needs to
be transported longer distances, both of which cause
more pollution. urbanization and the increase in the
world’s population both lead to increased trade.
trade of agricultural commodities has impacts on
ecosystem services at the production end, distant
from the point of consumption of the products. trade
will grow in importance, both between rural and
urban areas and internationally between countries.

While in certain parts of the world, sheer population
                                                                                                                                        Photo: Karen Conniff




growth and aggravated social inequities lead to
reduced food security, in the wealthier parts of
the world, higher consumption per person further
increases food demand (von Braun 2007). in terms
of grain equivalent (GE), consumption generally          In parts of Ethiopia, manure is not used to enhance soil fertility, but for cooking.




                                                     E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y                                           9
these shares are projected to rise over the next decade.      (fischlin et al. 2007). climate change is predicted
     While two thirds of the world’s poorest people still rely     to affect agriculture and forestry systems through
     on fuel wood and charcoal as their major source of            higher temperatures, elevated carbon dioxide (co2)
     heat and cooking, representing over 40% of wood               concentration, precipitation changes and increased
     removal from forest globally (fao 2006), biofuels             pressure from weeds, pests and disease (fao
     have contributed to higher food prices, with adverse          2009d). in the short term, the frequency of extreme
     effects on consumers (von Braun 2007).                        events such as droughts, heat waves, floods and
                                                                   severe storms is expected to increase.
     2.2.2 Climate change and other
           shocks                                                  Water links earth’s atmosphere, land masses, and
                                                                   oceans through the global hydrological cycle.
     While there is increased pressure due to human                aside from providing one of the key ingredients of
     population increases, additional uncertainty is due           life on planet earth, the hydrological cycle has a
     to other factors such as weather variability caused           great many other important functions, which include
     by climate change and other external shocks (e.g.             energy exchanges, erosion, climate regulation,
     sudden rise in food prices, or epidemics). the united         and the transference of bio-active chemicals. the
     nations framework convention on climate change                effects of climate change on the hydrological
     defines climate change as “a change of climate that           cycle are nearly impossible to predict on a local
     is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity        scale, but certain global changes are likely (Jung
     that alters the composition of the global atmosphere          et al. 2010). there is consensus among climate
     and that is in addition to natural climate variability        scientists that warming will accelerate the global
     observed over comparable time periods” (Pachauri              hydrological cycle, resulting in changes in stream
     and reisinger 2007). the fourth assessment                    flow, precipitation, atmospheric water content, soil
     report of the iPcc concluded that current global              moisture, ocean salinity, and glacier mass balance.
     climate change was primarily anthropogenic and
     likely to result in profoundly negative consequences          as agriculture is mostly dependent on the hydrologic
     for a majority of the world’s population (Pachauri            cycle, food production will be greatly affected
     and reisinger 2007). While the effects of climate             by changes in precipitation, soil moisture, and
     change on food security, ecosystems and water may             evapotranspiration. Local agricultural production
     be overtaken by the impacts of population growth,             may increase or decrease under conditions of
     the two may reinforce each other and worsen the               climate change, depending on geographic features
     vulnerability of many poor people in the world. this          such as elevation, latitude and other circumstances.
     may be further aggravated by other external shocks            However all current quantitative assessments
     such as local food shortages, sudden increases in             indicate that climate change will adversely affect
     food prices and financial crises, and the ability of          food security in developing countries, particularly
     poor people to cope may be undermined by chronic              africa, and increase the dependency of many
     vulnerability, low education, and exposure to disease.        of these countries on food imports. it is estimated
                                                                   that climate change will reduce africa’s potential
     Predicting the effects of global climate change is a          agricultural output by 15–30 percent by the 2080–
     process that is daunting in scale and uncertain at best       2100 period (fao 2009d). Poor female and male
     in its application. several predictions are generally         farmers have a low ability to cope with extreme
     agreed upon however: first, that the average global           climatic events and climatic variability due to small
     temperature will increase at an accelerated rate,             landholding, less control over water, lack of access
     and second, that weather events will become less              to capital, reduced participation in decision-making
     predictable, more severe, and probably more frequent          and less access to adequate information.
     as well. some ecosystems are more vulnerable to
     these changes than others, but in many cases their            climate change will have a variety of effects on the
     resilience will be exceeded, leading to irreversible          water sector. Water planners will be less able to use
     losses of biodiversity and various ecosystem services         historical data to plan, design, or operate hydrological
     such as the regulation of pests and water flows               systems, though new prediction models are under




10   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
development, which will enable policy solutions (ca         and development. it has also focused people’s
2007). additionally, extreme hydrologic events such         attention away from environmental and hydrological
as floods, droughts and storm surges will become            issues, and much more towards financial issues,
more common, appear in new places, and appear               a change in attention which in turn tends to have
with increased intensity and frequency (solomon et          negative consequences on food security. the recent
al. 2007). in most places, unpredictable weather            rise in world food prices has driven 110 million more
variability will decrease the availability of water, even   people into poverty. over the next several decades,
if it is more abundant: drought-flood cycles may result     food prices are predicted to rise by another 30–
in increased annual precipitation, but decrease the         50% due to the inability of food production to keep
ease of access to water. under these circumstances, it      up with growing demand (nellemann et al. 2009).
becomes highly important to capture and store the water     development aid to agriculture decreased by some
so that it can be used for food production. otherwise,      58% between 1980 and 2005, even though
more crops and livestock may be lost through floods         total official development assistance increased
and drought (Bates et al. 2008). coupled with impacts       significantly by 112%- over the same period (fao
on water quality, fresh water systems are particularly      2009c). this meant that the share of aid funds
vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change            going to the agricultural sector fell from 17% in
(Bates et al. 2008). the increase in the average            1980 to 3.8% in 2006, with the same downward
temperature may benefit some areas, but on the whole        trend observed in national budgets.
reduce the arable land area leading to decreased
food production (Parry et al. 2007). furthermore, this      2.3 The necessity of
will disproportionately affect sub-saharan africa (de           Ecosystems and water
Wit and stankiewicz 2006), where food production
                                                                for food Security
per capita is already lowest (mcintyre et al. 2008).
in general, arid and semi-arid regions are predicted        Ecosystems provide food both in their natural state
to experience significant temperature increases and         (for instance through capture fisheries and forest
reduced precipitation (sivakumar 2005). climate             products) and in the form of managed landscapes
change will also adversely affect ecosystems by             (such as in crop systems, through agroforestry,
changing the climatic conditions that they rely on,         livestock keeping and aquaculture). to feed a
which may result in decreased biodiversity, decreased       growing population, food production has to grow
ecosystem services and reduced human well-being in          too, which in turn means that more water is needed
many areas of the world (unEP 2007). on the other           to sustain agricultural, aquaculture and livestock
hand, while climate change can be seen as a driver of       production systems. Water is one of the main
food and water security, agricultural food production       factors limiting future food production, particularly
also has its own effects on climate change. there is also   in the poorest areas of the world where access
increasing evidence for linkages between reduction in       to water, and its timely availability, is a problem.
tree cover and rainfall, that may extend much further       over 1.6 billion people live in areas of physical
than previously thought (makarieva et al. 2010). for        water scarcity and without changes in management
example, the reduction of forest areas in East africa       this figure could soon grow to 2 billion (figure 5).
is one of the main causes of more frequent droughts,        With the same practices, increased urbanization
which currently affect large parts of the region (unEP      and changed diets, the amount of water required
2006b). more examples of the impact of agriculture          for agriculture to feed the world population would
on climate change are given in appendix 8.                  have to grow from 7,130 km3 (today’s amount)3
                                                            to between 12,050 and 13,500 km3 by 2050,
other than food crises, economic crises have                representing an increase of 70–90% (ca 2007).
large impacts on food security, ecosystems and
the efficiency of water use. the recent world-              the millennium Ecosystem assessment (www.
wide financial crisis increased the occurrence of           maweb.org) sought to catalogue the state of the
protectionist policies, decreasing world-wide food
trade and reducing the amount of money devoted
to development projects and technological research          3   This is more than the 4,500 km3 for food as estimated by Rockström et al.
                                                                (2007) in Section 2.1.




                                                        E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y                     11
Photo: UNEP
     Rice is an important crop for food security that needs a lot of water.


                       Little or no water scarcity                    Approaching physical water scarcity                       Not estimated
                       Physical water scarcity                        Economic water scarcity




                  Definitions and indicators
     Figure 5. Areas of physical and economic water scarcity water resources relative to use, withmeans that25% of water from abundant relative to use, with less than 25%
                   • Little or no water scarcity. Abundant (CA 2007). Little or no water scarcity less than water resources are rivers withdrawn for
     of water from rivers withdrawn for human purposes. Physical water scarcity means that water resources development is approaching or has exceeded sustainable limits: more
                      human purposes.
                   • Physical water scarcity (water resources development is approaching or has exceeded sustainable limits). More than 75% of
     than 75% of river flowsows withdrawn. Approaching physicalindustry, and domestic purposes (accounting for recycling of return ows). This will experience physical
                      river are are withdrawn for agriculture, water scarcity means that more than 60% of river flows are withdrawn and these basins
     water scarcity inde nition—relating water water scarcity means demand—implies that dry areas relative to water use,waterless than 25% of river flows withdrawn, but
                       the near future. Economic availability to water that water resources are abundant are not necessarily with scarce.
     lack of human, institutional,thephysical water scarcity.access to water and malnutrition are withdrawn. These basins will experience physical water
                   • Approaching
                      scarcity in
                                   andnear future. limits More than 60% of river ows exists.
                                        financial capital
                  • Economic water scarcity (human, institutional, and financial capital limit access to water even though water in nature is available
                    locally to meet human demands). Water resources are abundant relative to water use, with less than 25% of water from rivers
     environment and assess the consequences of
                       4
                    withdrawn for human purposes, but malnutrition exists.          the expense of reductions in other ecosystem services,
               Source: International Water Management Institute analysis done for the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management
     ecosystemAgriculture using the Watersim model; chapter(appendix
               in change on human well-being 2.                                     such as those supporting or regulating other things
     3), including its effects on food production. the ma                           that people need (such as drinking water, flood and
     points out that the significant increases in provisioning                      drought protection, nutrient recycling and regulation of
     services (largely the goods used by people) achieved in                        pests and disease). We are thus facing a tremendous
     recent times, and in particular food production through                        challenge where we need to develop agriculture
     agriculture, to a large extent has been achieved at                            to feed the world, use water and allocate water to
                                                                                    agriculture much more efficiently, and develop new
     4    More on ecosystems, agroecosystems, and ecosystem services in Section 3.1.




12   E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
water resources while ensuring that ecosystems               to provide environmental services. more specifically
continue to provide environmental services.                  as it is essential to take the following measures
                                                             (based on fao netherlands 2005):
the rural poor and marginal groups have a greater
direct reliance on ecosystem services. they also have        •	 Increasing water productivity and ecosystems
less capacity to cope with degraded ecosystems                  preservation: Efforts to improve food security and
services and therefore are more and more                        rural livelihoods must focus on raising water pro-
immediately vulnerable to ecosystem degradation                 ductivity in both rainfed and irrigated agriculture
(Wri 2005). However, food production does not                   and on increasing the availability of affordable,
necessarily have to come at the expense of other                environmentally acceptable water, especially for
services (Bennett et al. 2009) and cases exist                  the poor, women, and marginal groups, in a way
where investments in sustainable agriculture can                that generates maximum socio-economic returns.
actually raise food production while also benefitting
ecosystem processes (Pretty et al. 2006). Hence              •	 Harnessing new water supplies: surface and
there is a need for a better managed and balanced               groundwater supplies for agriculture and water
delivery of ecosystem services. this means that in              storage capacity will have to increase significant-
some places and cases you might have to reduce                  ly to meet growing food and energy requirements
some services at the expense of others, while in other          in the context of climate change.
cases you might be able to find win-win situations.
the ecosystem services approach (section 3.1 and             •	 Ensuring access to food and improving nutrition:
appendix 1) is useful both in focusing attention on,            access to food at the individual, local and conti-
and in finding better ways to manage, the wide                  nental levels should be ensured through pro-poor
range of processes that an agricultural system or               policies. domestic development policies (includ-
landscape can generate and could help better                    ing subsidies and implicit taxes), international as-
identify beforehand what the services are that will             sistance programs and international trade agree-
be impacted by a specific intervention (section 5.2).           ments will have to acknowledge and support the
                                                                centrality of agriculture-based development in
the current situation of ecosystem degradation from             these policies.
the impact of over-withdrawal of water for agriculture
is already one characterized by dried-up and polluted        •	 Increasing investments: Gender sensitive invest-
rivers, lakes and groundwater. for example, more                ments are needed to meet the demand for food,
than 50% of wetlands have been lost during the last             to increase the productivity and development of
century (iucn 2000). if the same practices continue             water, preserve the ecosystems services and to
to be used it would result in inevitable degradation or         improve the livelihoods of rural women and men.
complete destruction of the terrestrial freshwater and
coastal ecosystems that are vital to life itself. instead,   •	 Increasing ecological food production in/for cit-
appropriate strategies, safeguards, options and                 ies: Environmental regulations and parallel invest-
technical solutions need to be developed in order to            ments in municipal and industrial waste treatment
ensure that water can provide for diversified incomes           are needed to improve the quality of river water
and food security. these strategies should be based             and their related ecosystems, ensuring better qual-
upon a better understanding of the functioning of               ity water for food.
ecosystems, be they terrestrial, aquatic, or marine,
and their interrelation with the availability and the        •	 Developing more consistent, comprehensive wa-
quality of water.                                               ter, ecosystems and food policies: Governments
                                                                need to intensify efforts to prepare medium and
for agriculture to feed the world water allocated               long-term water, ecosystems and food policies
to agriculture (crops, fish, livestock) must be used            at the local, national and regional levels, which
more efficiently and new water resources must be                integrate the differentiated needs, interests and
developed while ensuring that ecosystems continue               perceptions of communities, and especially poor
                                                                men and women.




                                                         E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y   13
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security
An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security

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An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security

  • 1. Ecosystems for water and food security International Water Management U NEP I n s t i t u t e
  • 3. Ecosystems for water and food security International Water Management I n s t i t u t e Quick Policy Guide Series Volume 2 i
  • 4. CREDITS Scientific Editor: Eline Boelee (iWmi) Main authors: sithara atapattu (consultant), Jennie Barron (sEi-src), Prem Bindraban (isric), stuart W. Bunting (icEs), david coates (cBd), Katrien descheemaeker (iWmi-iLri), nishadi Eriyagama (iWmi), max finlayson (iLWs), Line Gordon (stockholm resilience center), Elizabeth Khaka (unEP), Gareth James Lloyd (unEP-dHi), david molden (iWmi), catherine muthuri (icraf), sophie nguyen-Khoa (cPWf), don Peden (iLri), Petina Pert (csiro), fergus sinclair (icraf), Elaine solowey (aiEs), Luke sanford (consultant), david stentiford (consultant), Lamourdia thiombiano (fao). Contributors: tilahun amede (iWmi-iLri), marc andreini (iWmi), stefano Barchiesi (iucn), malcolm Beveridge (Worldfish), Luna Bharati (iWmi), marta ceroni (GiEE), thomas chiramba (unEP), floriane clement (iWmi), Karen conniff (consultant), Jan de Leeuw (iLri), Kristina donnelly (aiEs), Pay drechsel (iWmi), alexandra Evans (iWmi), renate fleiner (unEP), mark Giordano (iWmi), delia Grace (iLri), mario Herrero (iLri), devra Jarvis (Bioversity), robyn Johnston (iWmi), tim Kasten (unEP), david Lehrer (aiEs), clive Lipchin (aiEs), abby Lutman (aiEs), matthew mccartney (iWmi), Bertha nherera (Pelum), an notenbaert (iLri), asad Qureshi (iWmi), sara J. scherr (Ecoagriculture Partners), Katherine snyder (iWmi), rebecca tharme (tnc), martin van Brakel (cPWf), Jeanette van de steeg (iLri), Gerardo E. van Halsema (Wur), Kees van ‘t Klooster (Wur), and others. Language editor: Helen cousins Layout: Jennifer odallo Cover photo: Karen conniff (rice field and forest gardens at arankele monastery, sri Lanka) Boelee E (ed) 2011. Ecosystems for water and food security. nairobi: united nations Environment Programme; colombo: international Water management institute. / ecosystems / agroecosystems / water management / food security/ ecosystem services / sustainability isBn: 978-92-807-3170-5 Job number: dEP/1392/na copyright © unEP 2011 Disclaimer the contents of this report do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of unEP or contributory organizations. the designations employed and the presentations do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of unEP or contributory organizations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, company or area or its authority or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. ii E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 5. ConTRIbuTIng oRganIzaTIonS Arava Institute for Environmental Bioversity International CGIAR Challenge Program on Studies (AIES) Water and Food (CPWF) Commonwealth Scientific and The Secretariat of the Convention EcoAgriculture Partners Industrial Research Organisation on Biological Diversity (CBD) (CSIRO) Gund Institute for Ecological Interdisciplinary Centre for Institute of Land, Water & Society Economics, University of Vermont Environment and Society (iCES), (ILWS), Charles Sturt University (GIEE) University of Essex International Livestock Research International Union for International Water Management Institute (ILRI) Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Institute (IWMI) International Water Management I n s t i t u t e ISRIC – World Soil Information Stockholm Environment Institute Stockholm Resilience Centre (SEI) (SRC) The Nature Conservancy (TNC) United Nations Environment UNEP-DHI Centre for Water Programme (UNEP) and Environment Wageningen UR World Agroforestry Center WorldFish Center (ICRAF) E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y iii
  • 6. TabLE of ConTEnTS PrEfacE ............................................................................................................................. vi forEWord ....................................................................................................................... vii acKnoWLEdGEmEnts ......................................................................................................viii EXEcutiVE summary........................................................................................................... ix 1. introduction ......................................................................................................... 1 1.1. Background and justification ................................................................................. 1 1.2. scope ............................................................................................................... 2 1.3. relationship between ecosystems, water and food .................................................... 3 2. food sEcurity ......................................................................................................... 5 2.1. introduction: hunger, access, and ecosystem impacts ................................................. 5 2.2. drivers and future prospects .................................................................................. 7 2.2.1. demographic drivers ................................................................................. 8 2.2.2. climate change and other shocks .............................................................. 10 2.3. the necessity of ecosystems and water for food security............................................ 11 2.4. conclusion: challenges for food security ................................................................ 14 3. EcosystEms ........................................................................................................... 15 3.1. introduction: concepts and definitions ................................................................... 15 3.1.1. Ecosystems and agroecosystems ................................................................ 15 3.1.2. Ecosystem services .................................................................................. 18 3.2. challenges to agroecosystem management ............................................................ 21 3.3. Examples of agroecosystems .............................................................................. 24 3.3.1. arid agroecosystems ............................................................................... 24 3.3.2. Wetlands .............................................................................................. 27 3.3.3. dry rangeland ....................................................................................... 32 3.3.4. aquatic ecosystems................................................................................. 35 3.3.5. tree ecosystems ..................................................................................... 36 3.4. sustainable management of agroecosystems .......................................................... 37 3.5. conclusion: recognizing agroecosystem services .................................................... 39 iv E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 7. 4. WatEr ..................................................................................................................... 41 4.1. introduction: water in ecosystems ........................................................................ 41 4.2. assessment of current and future water use ............................................................. 41 4.2.1. Water vulnerability, food security and poverty .............................................. 42 4.2.2. Water use in agriculture ........................................................................... 43 4.2.3. Water-soil-plant interactions ...................................................................... 44 4.2.4. tension between water for ecosystems and water for food.............................. 45 4.3. increasing water productivity in agriculture ............................................................. 47 4.3.1. increasing crop water productivity ............................................................. 48 4.3.2. increasing water productivity in agroforestry systems...................................... 52 4.3.3. increasing livestock water productivity ....................................................... 52 4.3.4. increasing water productivity in aquaculture ................................................. 54 4.3.5. Policy options ........................................................................................ 56 4.4. conclusion: tackling water scarcity in agroecosystems ............................................. 57 5. manaGinG WatEr in aGroEcosystEms for food sEcurity ............................... 59 5.1. introduction: the role of water in ecosystem services ................................................... 59 5.2. managing agroecosystem services ........................................................................ 60 5.2.1. Ecosystem services in agriculture................................................................ 60 5.2.2. decision making over ecosystem services .................................................... 61 5.2.3. Payments for ecosystem services ................................................................ 63 5.3. managing water efficiently for ecosystems and food production ................................. 64 5.3.1. Efficient water management ..................................................................... 64 5.3.2. integrated Water resources management (iWrm) ........................................ 65 5.3.3. iWrm and ecosystem services .................................................................. 68 5.3.4. Practical approaches to water management in agroecosystems ....................... 71 5.3.5. Water for nature: environmental flows ........................................................ 71 5.4. Water management in agroecological landscapes .................................................. 74 5.5. conclusion: managing agroecosystem services for food security ............................... 77 GLossary ........................................................................................................................ 81 rEfErEncEs...................................................................................................................... 85 aPPEndicEs.................................................................................................................... 109 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y v
  • 8. PREfaCE overcoming hunger and meeting the nutritional also generate services needs of almost 7 billion people, rising to over 9 such as flood mitigation, billion people by 2050, is a central challenge for groundwater recharge, this generation. Equally critical will be to achieve erosion control and this in a way that keeps humanity’s footprint within habitats for plants, birds, planetary boundaries. fish and other animals. Water scarcity is self-evidently one of the key it also requires intersectoral factors that will limit food production. this is collaboration, because especially the case in south asia and sub-saharan only then can policies and practices change. the africa, where malnutrition and food insecurity are overarching recommendation of this synthesis is that already widespread. in these areas, the livelihoods future sustainability requires an integrated approach and well-being of poor communities are critically to managing multipurpose agroecosystems in a dependent on their farm produce and the ecosystem landscape or river basin setting. services from the local landscape that support their livelihoods and income. these ecosystems–whether they are wetlands or forests, arid pastoral lands or rice fields–represent this background document and synthesis on An the future of food security and resilience against Ecosystem Services Approach to Water and shocks while offering a way towards achieving Food Security is part of unEP’s contribution to the the millennium development Goals (mdGs) and global food crisis, pledged to the united nations beyond. secretary-General and developed in collaboration with the international Water management institute this document does not come in isolation. it is also a (iWmi) and other partners. together, we identified contribution to unEP’s wider work and partnerships and explored the links between ecosystems, water on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity and food, and illustrate how resilient ecosystems (tEEB) and a transition to a low-carbon, resource- can support and increase food security. efficient Green Economy. it is clear that enormous opportunities exist to together they are all part of the urgency to evolve increase food production in ways that make optimal the sustainable development agenda forged in a and sustainable use of water and other resources. previous century to reflect the new challenges and this means that we can feed a global population also the emerging opportunities of the 21st century. without massive and irreversible damage to our ecosystems. it also means that ensuring food security, managing water resources and protecting ecosystems must be considered as a single policy rather than as separate, and sometimes competing, choices. this approach calls for a fundamental shift in perspective and a deeper understanding of the enormous economic importance of ecosystems and the broad suite of services they provide. for example, well-managed agroecosystems not only achim steiner provide food, fiber and animal products, they un under-secretary-General and Executive director vi E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 9. foREwoRD By 2050 the world will need to produce Ecosystems also provide approximately 70% more food than at present to a host of services that cope with growing population and dietary changes. underlie food and water this is going to put agricultural production systems security. in particular, and the environment under ever increasing pressure. many ecosystems provide competition for the water that we use to grow our water management food is also increasing. in fact we are facing a functions that are crucial paradox of having to grow more food with less to a stable food supply water. additionally, we will have to do this causing –these include water less environmental impact than we do now. these storage, purification and regulation functions as critical issues define a critical challenge for the next well as flood control. Ecosystems also need water 30 years or more. achieving food security is the to support their functioning, but currently ecosystems product of many variables, including management of are not considered a priority water user or even water, land, aquatic resources, crops and livestock. a water user at all in many countries. one of the Lasting food security – a food supply system that main factors limiting future food production will be can stand up to environmental and economic water. Water underlies many ecosystem services, shocks – requires a holistic approach, with healthy including biomass and crop production, as well as ecosystems as a foundation. the recent world food supporting and regulating services. it is also a key crises demonstrated the vulnerability of our food ingredient in enhancing food production – not just supply and the need to improve its sustainability through irrigation, but through better management and resilience. too little attention has been paid of rainwater and water for livestock and aquatic to the importance of healthy ecosystems as key food sources. components of our food production systems. more resilient ecosystems can support a wider range of solutions to water access, land degradation, ecosystem services, including water management nutrient management and ecosystem services have functions that are crucial for stable food security, to be developed with a view to what works for and become more diverse and more productive. communities across landscapes, not just what works on the farm. the international Water management thus water management for food security cannot be institute (iWmi) aims to improve the management sustainable without paying attention to ecosystems, of land and water resources for food, livelihoods their functions and services as part of the natural and the environment and targets water and land resource base supporting agriculture. overcoming management challenges faced by poor communities natural resource management problems and in the developing world. in the new cGiar strategic adapting to climate change will only be achieved research program Water, Land and Ecosystems, by understanding and managing the dynamics of iWmi and partners focuses on three critical issues: water across the whole landscape of interlinked water scarcity, land degradation and ecosystem ecosystems. Ecosystems provide food both in their services. the current document on Ecosystems natural state and in managed landscapes. climate for Water and food security is an important change and overexploitation, especially of water contribution to assessing the important role of resources, threaten the productivity of ecosystems. ecosystems in increasing resilience and providing Given that the majority of the world’s poor are food in a sustainable way to future generations. directly dependent on ecosystems for food, they are the most vulnerable to environmental degradation colin chartres and climate-related shocks. director General international Water management institute E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y vii
  • 10. aCknowLEDgEMEnTS throughout the process of drafting, reviewing and have been recognized as main author or contributor. editing this document, various people have provided in addition we would like to thank all others who have valuable advice. as much as possible, these people given their support and assistance behind the scenes. viii E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 11. ExECuTIvE SuMMaRy Challenges for food Security provided to each of these needs in order to sustain both functions. With a growing global population expected to reach 9.1 billion in 2050 and the increasing Recognizing agroecosystem impacts of climate change, sustainable use of Services water and ecosystems for food security is a great challenge. it is important to gain a better recognizing the multiple functions of agroecosystems understanding of the functioning of terrestrial and and the many services they provide is essential aquatic ecosystems and their interrelation with the to fostering an integrated approach to natural availability and quality of water. this calls for a shift resources management, agricultural production, in the management of ecosystems and the water and food security. the sustainable management within them for food security. agricultural production plans of various agroecosystems ranging from hyper- systems have to be recognized and managed as arid and dryland agroecosystems to wetlands and a landscape of interlinked agroecosystems with the aquatic ecosystems require strong policy support potential for multiple functions and incentives for users. the services provided by ecosystems can be optimized through appropriate climate change impacts on ecosystems and land use planning that takes into account the limits thereby on water and food security are highly of each ecosystem’s carrying capacity, while uncertain, and most forecasting scenarios multiple users need to be brought together in suggest greater vulnerability to damage, reduced common management arrangements to sustainably ecosystem services, and undermined resilience. reconcile the needs of food production and Building resilience to climate change and other ecosystems services for a growing population. thus shocks needs to be mainstreamed into agricultural food production can be made more sustainable; planning to ensure food security targets. this is more productive in terms of producing more especially important for vulnerable populations with food, services, and benefits per unit of land and low adaptive capacity: poor women and marginal water; more resilient to climate change and other social groups in geographical areas at risk, with shocks; and more compatible with sustaining other limited resources, poor social networks, and low ecosystems and their functions and services, such as access to education, health care and other services. wild biodiversity. many drivers of global change affect water the ecosystem services framework provides a availability and thus agroecosystems and food useful umbrella for this endeavor as this can only security, by limiting or taking away the water be achieved by healthy agroecosystems. inter- necessary for maintaining ecosystem functions. sector collaboration at ministerial level is essential this is a challenging development since ecosystem to ensure good ecosystems care while providing the functions and food security go hand in hand: necessary food and services to communities. the healthy ecosystems enhance food security while situation now calls for a more balanced approach degraded ecosystems decrease food security. in managing food security and its interrelation with Healthy ecosystems are particularly important ecosystem services: worldwide, ecosystem services for the poor who predominantly directly rely on are in a poor state and agroecosystems have lost ecosystem services. Water is the important link their capacity to recover from stress. food security between agroecosystems and food security and is further threatened by reduced yields associated it is important that the right balance of water is with depleted water quantity, reduced water E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y ix
  • 12. quality, and degradation of other natural resources. while preserving the functioning of water bodies these factors also negatively impact on a range of in a context of increased demand for food and provisioning, supporting, regulatory, and cultural energy, is a real challenge. consideration of the ecosystem services. various ecosystem functions in irrigated and rainfed agroecosystems is crucial, as is effective water However, solutions are available. Policy makers can governance at different and appropriate scales to help to safeguard ecosystem services. accounting for help ensure sustainable use of water resources. the benefits and costs of the full range of ecosystem services in policy-making and greater emphasis on Water storage options along the continuum, from natural resources and water use efficiency in food soil and groundwater to natural wetlands and dams, production will promote better decision making can make water more accessible at different spatial towards more sustainable farming. in arid regions, and temporal scales. this is especially important in new or local cultivars and appropriate land and water rainfed agriculture, where other water management management practices can increase productivity and options and appropriate farming practices can help restore degraded lands. in other areas the provision increase agricultural and water productivity through of livestock herders with incentives can help to keep various water management options. support should and improve the environmental services of semi-arid be given to systems and approaches that ensure rangelands. the integration of crop, tree, livestock, high water productivity as well as gender and social and in some cases aquaculture farming, can enhance equity and contribute to closing the water cycle to resource recovery and reuse of resources for feed or the benefit of many ecosystem functions. soil fertility sustainable livestock production systems should be Wetlands across the world play a critical role in encouraged in order to respond to changing diets the provision of freshwater for human consumption and the increased demand for animal products while and agriculture, while both fresh and saline waters maintaining environmental flows and ecosystem provide food security by supporting fisheries, services. the resulting improved livestock water aquaculture, and other related activities. urgent steps productivity would allow more animal products and are needed to protect the rich wetland ecosystems food to be produced without increasing the volume with their multitude of functions and services, as well of water depleted. as the livelihoods and well-being of the dependent communities. monitoring of wetland functions and for aquaculture, various practical approaches services is crucial to ensure the continuation of and policies for enhancing water use have been wetland ecosystems and their important role in flood developed in different geographical settings all protection, biodiversity, food provision, as well as of which have potential to be useful elsewhere. many other critical ecosystem services. Greater awareness of these amongst producers and policy-makers could encourage more cost- Tackling water Scarcity in effective water management strategies that would agroecosystems concomitantly reduce animal, environmental and public health risks. to share a scarce resource and to limit environmental damage, it is imperative to limit future water use. Managing agroecosystem important pathways to growing enough food with Services for food Security limited water are to increase the productivity of water in irrigated and rainfed areas, in animal to ensure food security it is important for decision husbandry and in aquaculture; improve water makers to support the management of agroecosystem management in low-yielding rainfed areas; change services by taking appropriate policy measures that food consumption patterns; and (possibly) through encourage the use of technologies and approaches enabling trade between water rich and water such as sustainable land management, integrated scarce countries and areas. increasing water use water resources management, and more sustainable efficiency of crop, livestock, and aquatic production, agricultural practices by female and male farmers. x E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 13. for sustainable water use, water managers must landscape can be hampered if agricultural consider agriculture as an ecosystem with all its activities are viewed in isolation and receive services, and in turn consider how these services disproportionally more water. the capacity of may be impacted by water. agroecosystems are multipurpose agroecosystems will be enhanced, huge providers of food, animals, products, services, when the water quantity and quality are adequate and incomes and, if they are well managed, in for the whole range ecosystem services, which will sustainable ways, to maintain ecosystem functions lead to greater environmental sustainability, more and benefit from the full range of ecosystem services equity and result in higher economic efficiency in could ensure food security. the long term. this calls for a shift in the management of water key Recommendations from water for food to water for multifunctional agroecosystems, considering the whole ecosystem integrated water resources management can base of provisioning, regulatory, cultural, and contribute to long-term food security by providing supporting services. more research is needed on water for agroecosystems and for non-agricultural tools to analyze the potential at various spatial scales ecosystems. more resilient ecosystems can support a and over time in order to define an appropriate and wider range of ecosystem services, including water practical management approach. management functions that are crucial for stable food security, and become more diverse and more many of the recent synthesis assessments on productive. this requires the following changes environment and water suggest that concerted global in the valuation and management of ecosystems, actions are needed to address the root causes, water resources, and food security: while local efforts can reduce human vulnerability to shocks and chronic food insecurity. there is scope for • Valuation of ecosystem services from agroeco- actions at all levels: local, national and river basin systems and non-agricultural ecosystems, so that levels. recognizing the multiple ecosystem services of these can be used to understand incentives and agroecosystems, coupled with elements of integrated trade-offs. Water resource management (iWrm) at the basin scale, considering all sources of rain, surface and • Management of agriculture as a continuum of groundwater, can be a powerful and sustainable agroecosystems that not only produce food, but response to freshwater scarcity. Because agriculture also deliver a whole range of other ecosystem accounts for more than 70 percent of global water services necessary for long-term food security, use, agroecosystems are a logical target for water in a larger and diverse, tree-rich landscape. savings and demand management efforts. the integration of crop, tree, livestock, and aquaculture production can lead to resource to ensure that we have enough water for food and for recovery in the form of manure for soil fertility a healthy planet, we must go beyond implementing the and fish feed, as well as crop residues and tree known improved techniques, incentives and institutions, fodder for livestock feed. and invest in understanding the various ecosystem functions and services, as well as their interaction, • Management of all rain and runoff water sourc- in the agroecosystems, that cover so much of the es for multifunctional agroecosystems at river earth’s surface. an ecosystem services perspective basin level to support the widest range of eco- to agriculture can also help in the consideration of system services. With higher water productivity agronomic questions such as crop choices and soil in terms of ecosystem services (water for agro- fertilization, but institutional and market issues need to ecosystems), ecosystems will in turn be more be addressed in these choices too. efficient in terms of regulatory and supporting services for water (agroecosystems for water). Water plays a significant role in the support and regulation of various other services provided • Application of adaptive Integrated Water by agroecosystems. these uses of water in the Resources Management supported by capable E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y xi
  • 14. and empowered institutions to provide water water management to bridge dry spells, careful for non-agricultural ecosystems (water for na- nutrient management, innovative field practices ture/environmental flows) and agroecosystems and adapted cultivars. more ecosystem servic- (water for food). es could be provided by crop-tree-agroecosys- tems, if (a) diversity within the cropping system • Collaboration between sectors: multiple ser- as well as in landscapes is promoted, (b) habi- vices from agroecosystems require support from tat integrity and connectivity are maintained, (c) authorities and experts in, for instance, agricul- the right infrastructure is selected, and (d) effec- ture, environment, water, aquaculture, forestry, tive supporting institutions are in place for water fisheries, livestock and wildlife management. management and collective action. this is required at local, basin, national and international scales. • In aquaculture and fisheries the provision of healthy aquatic ecosystems with clean and specific opportunities to enhance food security and oxygenated water for physical support and increase water productivity include: respiration, seed and feed. if managed well, such aquatic ecosystems need, and in return • Strategic placement of multipurpose trees in ag- will also provide, regulation of detritus, waste, ricultural landscapes to tighten water, nutrient nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. in and carbon cycles that sustain soil and water capture fisheries, maintaining migratory routes productivity, thereby reducing pressure on the and breeding habitats as well as sustainable remaining forest resources. fishing practices are important. more ecosys- tem services can be provided in multipurpose • In dryland agroecosystems with locally adapted aquatic ecosystems such as livestock-aquacul- cultivars, the holistic utilization of water and nu- ture integration, rice-fish culture, aquaculture in trients, provisions for herds and integrated tree- irrigation and water management systems, and crop-livestock management are all crucial to wastewater-fed aquaculture. guarantee ecosystem services in the long term. • In livestock systems animal management strate- • In wetland ecosystems the development of gies to improve animal health and survival can synergies with fisheries, aquaculture, livestock reduce herd sizes, while feeding strategies such grazing, and horticulture and strategic en- as the use of crop residues and other waste hancement of tree cover without compromising products, tree fodder, proper selection of fod- the water regulating functions and other ecosys- der crops and implementation of grazing man- tem services of the wider catchment, including agement practices can increase livestock water groundwaterutilization. productivity, while water quantity and quality can be conserved by, for instance, water point • In crop systems, where the highest potential is management. more ecosystem services can be in increasing rainfed crop production, yield in- provided in, for instance, mixed crop-livestock creases can be obtained over vast cropland systems with multipurpose crops and by inte- areas with targeted surface water and ground- grating livestock in irrigation systems. xii E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 15. 1. InTRoDuCTIon 1.1 background and ecosystem services can be an essential contribution to the sustainable improvement of food security. Justification Globally, about one billion people, mostly from the understanding of linkages between ecosystems, developing countries are under-nourished. most water, and food production is important to the health of these people live in countries that are not self- of all three, and managing for the sustainability sufficient in food production, in particular in south of these connections is becoming increasingly asia and sub-saharan africa. the livelihoods and necessary. in many places, changes in the global well-being of these people is critically dependent water cycle, caused largely by human pressures, on their farm produce, and on the local landscape are seriously affecting ecosystem health and with its ecosystem functions, to provide ecosystem human well-being (ma 2005). Widespread land services that sufficiently support their livelihoods and degradation driven by bad agricultural practices income. Water is a key driver of several ecosystem is seriously limiting food production (Bossio and functions, including biomass and crop yields, as Geheb 2008). forest clearing or deforestation for well as various supporting and regulatory ecosystem agriculture has hydrological consequences and can services. it is also a principal input in enhancing lead to land degradation through salinization, soil food production, irrigation being a well-established loss, and waterlogging (falkenmark et al. 2007). method of improving yield in many parts of the fisheries and aquaculture, major sources of protein world. use of irrigation in sub-saharan africa is still in many developing countries which provided more at a low level while rainfed agriculture remains the than 2.9 billion people with at least 15 percent of dominant mode of subsistence agriculture. ninety- their average per capita animal protein intake in five percent of agriculture in sub-saharan africa 2006 (fao 2009a), are threatened by ecosystems and sixty percent in india is rainfed (ca 2007). degradation caused by over-fishing, habitat Productivity from rainfed agriculture remains low degradation, pollution, invasive species, and due to limited soil nutrient availability, occurrence disruption of the river flow by dams. these pressures of pests and diseases, and spells of minimal or no have caused a severe decline in fish species and precipitation at critical growing periods. several production particularly in inland fisheries, thus of these factors are related to degradation of threatening an important food and nutrition source ecosystems. in key parts of the tropics, agriculture for poor rural men, women, and children (unEP has continued to expand into forest and woodland 2010). Beef, poultry, pork and other meat products areas, reducing tree cover and compacting soil, provide one-third of humanity’s protein intake, but causing higher run-off (ong and swallow 2003). also consume almost a third (31%) of the water With the impact of climate change, spatial and used in agriculture globally (Herrero et al. 2009). temporal variability in production is expected to furthermore, pro-poor initiatives to ensure equal increase, while overall food production is projected access to land, water and other natural resources to decrease, especially in sub-saharan africa, and to their benefits have become crucial in the because an increase in magnitude and frequency of context of increasing commercial pressures on drought and floods (Parry et al. 2007). improving land. Whereas the question of rights is essential water productivity in sub-saharan africa and in to ensure food security for future generations; other vulnerable regions of the world is one key ecosystems, water, and food production also have avenue to gaining food security for these regions. to be managed wisely to prevent irretrievable losses maintaining healthy ecosystems to ensure water in ecosystem services and overall food production availability and the continuance of other regulatory (falkenmark 2008). E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 1
  • 16. over the last few years, the international community some 70 percent over the period from 2005/07 has released several publications which highlight to 2050 (nearly 100% in developing countries) the need to improve water management for food (fao 2009b), in addition to global and national production (crops, livestock, fish etc.). some of these mechanisms ensuring equitable access to land and have been summarized in an appendix and include agricultural products. adding ecosystem restoration the unEP report on Ecosystem management and makes the challenge even more complex as the cost the environmental food crisis (appendix 1), fao’s of restoration is generally extremely high compared work on Water, food and Ecosystems (appendix 2), with the cost of preventing degradation and not all millennium Ecosystems assessment (appendix 3), services can be restored (ma 2005a). increasing GEo 4 (appendix 4), comprehensive assessment food production translates into significant increases of Water management in agriculture (appendix 5), in the production of several key commodities. this World Water development report (appendix 6), will not be possible with the current agricultural, international assessment of agricultural Knowledge, livestock, forestry, and fisheries practices which science, and technology for development (appendix are limited by insufficient amounts of renewable 7), and the inter-governmental Panel climate freshwater per capita and ecosystems degradation. change reports. Each of these reports has played Hence one way of securing sufficient and affordable a significant role in developing the understanding food for all is a revisit of our current agricultural, of policymakers, scientists, and the international livestock and fisheries practices, as water scarcity community on the environment and water. Each and ecosystems degradation may jeopardize the report has a specific focus, which creates a lens that world’s ability to meet the needs of its people and it uses to view the interactions between water and their health. the rapidly increasing and potentially the environment. the publications have focused on infinite demand for natural resources, trees, land, issues such as efficient irrigation, ecosystems, climate and water for the production of biofuels may put change and now there is a need to review all these a severe burden on ecosystems, whereas climate reports, complement them with new publications, change may contribute to more frequent and more and produce a consolidated message assessing intense global shocks. these challenges could be the importance of ecosystems in managing for addressed by recognizing that agriculture provides sustainable water use in food production. Global ecosystem services beyond food production and change, with driving factors including population making policy and management decisions that growth, increasing wealth and increased variability, act upon that. in practical terms this would mean e.g. due to climate change causing shocks, needs improving agricultural management, linking to to be addressed in view of the integrated relations downstream aquatic ecosystems and creating and between ecosystems, water, and food production. managing multi-functional agroecosystems (Gordon this document draws from the tools and ideas et al. 2010). expressed in the above reports, which have since been complemented by international publications, as part of its contribution to the global food crisis, and seeks to synthesize their results and transcend unEP pledged to the un secretary-General to the information contained therein. produce a policy document on Ecosystems for Water and food security, to which this publication as predicted by the various reports, the timely provides background and further reading. supply and availability of food, fuel and water, and the deterioration of ecosystem services, are 1.2 Scope growing concerns. the recent global food shortage and other simultaneous shocks that hit the world the target group of this publication consists of resulted in soaring food prices leading to increased high and mid-level professional staff in ministries attention worldwide to food security. this trend is of Environment and other relevant government continuously aggravated by population growth. and inter-governmental bodies, as well as other feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in professionals in other institutions e.g. nGos, 2050 will require raising overall food production by bilateral organizations, and un agencies. 2 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 17. the purpose of this document is to show how of the services that they provide (regulatory, sustainable ecosystems, explicitly including supporting and cultural ecosystem services in agroecosystems, are essential for water addition to provisioning services such as food management and food production. this document production), it shows their economic and po- provides background evidence illustrating the litical significance, thus the ecosystem service 3-way interdependence between ecosystems, approach is more likely to generate an under- water and food security, demonstrating how standing of why and how ecosystems need ecosystem management can be improved to ensure integrated management and some require pro- water availability and to avoid future food crises. tection. By looking at the world as a range of ecosystems (from pristine nature to highly intensive agriculture) • Environmental Flows – stemming from the con- and recognizing their variety of ecosystem services, cept of ecosystem services, environmental flows agroecosystem functions can be managed in the context of this report are the water flows sustainably for current and future food security. it – at the right time, with the right amount and of has become widely accepted that food security is the right quality – necessary to sustain certain not only a matter of food production but also an ecosystem services, in particular those related issue of equal and secure access to the means to downstream wetlands and aquatic habitats. of production and to food products (fao 2010). this document focuses primarily on how to achieve • Agriculture as an ecosystem: agroecosystems – sustainable food production from a biophysical this idea views agriculture as a set of human perspective and does not address per se the key practices embedded in and part of its own eco- social and institutional issues related with food system that has certain ecosystem needs, func- security1. several of those are however highlighted tions and services and interacts with other eco- throughout the text in order to remind the reader that systems. it moves away from viewing agricul- these remain a critical component to ensure food ture as an isolated activity towards regarding security for the poor and socially-disadvantaged it as a part of many interconnected landscape groups. elements. it is hoped that this document will help policy makers • Climate change as a water sector driver – to understand agriculture in terms of ecosystem Because climate change has experienced a functions and services and provide background meteoric ascent in public awareness and in and guidance for sound decision making in order to funding for study, all of these reports include an create efficient ecosystems for water management aspect of the effects of climate change on the and for food production. in this, it builds on the water sector (see chapter 2 for more details). new paradigms or views on the environment and the water sector as developed in various recent • Food security as outcome of sustainable ecosys- assessments (ma 2005; ca 2007; unEP 2007, tem management – By applying the ecosystem 2009b, 2010; mcintyre et al. 2008; WWa services framework to agroecosystems, water 2006, 2009; nellemann et al. 2009). central to can be managed in a more sustainable way, these new paradigms or views are: increasing food security and livelihood benefits while minimizing (or ideally reversing) environ- • Ecosystem Services – ecosystems provide im- mental deterioration. portant services to the agriculture sector and society. When ecosystems are viewed in terms this report on ecosystems for water and food security will take an ecosystem perspective, where 1 Similar considerations hold true for water security or water safety, more agroecosystems are seen as providers of food commonly addressed in drinking water supply literature. In addition, another security and of water, contrary to other studies that topic that is relevant but will not be discussed in much detail here is the concept of carbon sequestration and the role of ecosystems in storing carbon. place ecosystems more at the receiving end. E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 3
  • 18. 1.3. Relationship between approach is required and what this should entail. these are also the three main areas (separate Ecosystems, water, and sectors in some countries) that require change: food food production (crops, fish, livestock), environmental this document is structured to show the relationships protection and sustainable management, and water between ecosystems, water, and food (figure 1). resources management, respectively. the synthesis Hence it starts with chapters on food security (2), chapter (5) then explains how agroecosystems ecosystems (3) and water (4) that each provide more provide water and other services for food security. insight into the reasons why an integrated ecosystem there is some deliberate overlap between chapters so they can be read independently. agroecosystem   ecosystem   water   water   food   agri-­‐   culture   ecosystem   food   services   security   Figure 1. Water and food as dimensions of ecosystems (left), with agriculture as subset of food (production), and the role of water for food security and other ecosystem services in an agroecosystem (right). Figure  1.  Water  and  food  as  dimensions  of  ecosystems  (le7),  with  agriculture  as   subset  of  food  (produc=on),  and  the  role  of  water  for  food  security  and  other   ecosystem  services  in  an  agroecosystem  (right).     4 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 19. 2. fooD SECuRITy 2.1 Introduction: Hunger, century faces multiple challenges: it has to produce more food and fiber to feed a population expected to access, and Ecosystem grow by over a third (or 2.3 billion people) between Impacts 2009 and 2050, more feedstock for a potentially food security, meaning access to adequate food huge bioenergy market, contribute to overall for all, at all times, requires inter-alia sustainable development in the many agriculture-dependent and increased production and productivity in the developing countries, adopt more sustainable agricultural sectors well as more equitable distribution production methods and adapt to climate change”. of food produced. Hence food security is the product the latest fao estimates indicate that over the of many variables including physical factors such as same period agricultural production needs to grow climate, soil type and water availability; management by 70% to feed this population, because of a shift of these and other natural resources (water, land, in demand towards higher value products of lower aquatic resources, trees and livestock), at the level caloric content, and an increased use of crop output of fields, landscapes and river basins; and losses as feed for the rising meat demand (fao 2009b). at and waste along the value chain. it also requires the same time the adaptation of the agriculture sector adequate policies and institutions in the many sectors to climate change will be costly but is necessary for that influence the ability of men and women to food security, poverty reduction, and the maintenance produce and purchase food, and the ability of their of ecosystem services. in such a context sustainable families to derive adequate nutrition from it. use and management of water and biodiversity resources in agroecosystems play a decisive role in according to the fao High Level Experts panel on providing food and income for a growing population food security (fao 2009b), “agriculture in the 21st (nellemann et al. 2009; fao and Par 2011). Photo: Stuart W Bunting Harvesting fish in peri-urban Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 5
  • 20. a sustainable increase in food production has to despite 10 years of global commitment to reduce be coupled with pro-poor policies which give to hunger, the number of hungry (as measured through men and women the rights and means to access mdG target 1a) remains more or less the same as the resource base for sufficient and adequate food estimated during the base year of 1990 (figure 2). production or the rights and means to access food significant gains have been achieved in the past products. more than 40 countries already have twenty years, as the relative share of hungry people the right to food entrenched in their constitutions has decreased from around 20% of developing (mcclain-nhlapo 2004). a rights-based approach country populations in 1990 to a current 15% to food security requires identifying men and women (fao 2010), though according to other sources this more at risk of hunger and creating the enabling seems to be rising again. still, about 925 million environment for them to produce or access food, people do not have sufficient food and 98% of these through targeted policies. live in developing countries (figure 3). sixty-five FAO Hunger Map 2010 Figure 2. Trends in numbers and percentages of undernourished people in the world for the period from 1969 to 2009, compared to the MDG target of halving the number of hungry people (based on FAO 2010). Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries Source: FAOSTAT 2010 (www.fao.org/hunger) Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries (2005-07) Very high (undernourishment 35% and above) High (undernourishment 25-34%) Moderately high (undernourishment 15-24%) Moderately low (undernourishment 5-14%) Very low (undernourishment below 5%) Missing or insufficient data Figure 3. Prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries (2005-2007) (FAOSTAT 2010; www.fao.org/hunger). 6 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 21. percent of the world’s hungry live in india, china, irrigated food production systems to meet in-country democratic republic of congo, Bangladesh, food demand, or potentially have opportunities indonesia, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. Women account in either rainfed agricultural management, or in for about 60% of global hunger. malnutrition and irrigation development (rockström et al 2009). hunger-related diseases cause the death of about access and control over land, water and produced 7 million children annually. child malnutrition costs capitals (e.g. financial capital, technologies) are developing countries 20 to 30 million usd per also key factors to achieve the mdGs and increase year. apart from lack of calories, diets deficient in water productivity in a way that will benefit the zinc, vitamin a, iron, and iodine impair the health poor, notably women (un 2009). these different of up to 2 billion people. achieving food security opportunities for the appropriation of water for food for all is necessary and vital for human well-being security may have quite different impacts on water globally (WfP 2010). resource appropriation in different countries, as well as on downstream flows, ultimately affecting various the sudden increase in food prices that 2006/07 water-related ecosystem services and functions. a brought, was largely unanticipated, and has comprehensive analysis of the need for water for become a driver in water and food sectors (von food, and the potential impacts on water-dependent Braun 2007). it was caused by a variety of factors ecosystem services in various landscapes is not yet including “rising demand, shifting diets, droughts, available on aggregated global level. increased cost of agricultural inputs, and policies that encourage use of agricultural land and output 2.2 Drivers and future for bioenergy production” (WWa 2009). this has Prospects resulted in an increased burden on the poor, who already spend one half to three quarters of their demand for the world’s increasingly scarce water income on food. major food producing countries supply is rising rapidly, affecting its availability for have restricted exports of food to keep costs down food production and putting global food security at domestically, which has raised international food risk (rosegrant et al. 2002). the increasing world prices even more. While increased food costs will population and their improving wealth as major likely push governments to invest more in agricultural drivers of future change will continue to increase productivity, this will take years to offset the current pressure on the natural resource base (Godfray high food prices (WWa 2009). et al. 2010b). inequities in access to land, trees and water are likely to increase in the absence of Efforts to meet the mdG of halving hunger policies ensuring equitable rights for all. the average (compared to 1990) in 92 developing countries by availability of land, forest resources and water per 2015 will have significant impact on water flows, person will continue to decline, especially for the possibly on water quality and most likely on water- poor men and for women, which in turn compels dependent ecosystem services. Global estimates us to increase equitably the efficient use of natural on the water needed for meeting the mdG target resources. another major driver is climate variability on hunger suggest that the current appropriation that causes shocks to the food and other systems, of circa 4,500 km3 annually for food, needs to such as finance, energy and health systems. the increase to 6,700 km3 annually by 2015 and to poor, women and marginal groups are particularly 8,660 km3 by 2030 (rockström et al. 2007). some vulnerable to loss of livelihood and assets and hunger of this additional water needs may be mobilized in the face of climate variability and change (cannon through water savings such as improved water et al. 2003). Variation in climate vulnerability productivity, in particular in currently low yielding is place-based, depending on social inequality, agroecosystems. the distribution pattern of water unequal access to resources, poor infrastructure, lack is uneven and inequitable. there are fundamental of representation, and inadequate social security, differences in opportunities between as well as early warning or planning systems (ribot 2009). within countries, depending on whether they are projected to be under absolute water stress, with in the millennium Ecosystem assessment, drivers limited opportunity to develop either rainfed or were defined as any natural or human-induced E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 7
  • 22. Figure 4. Expected areas of population growth and decline 2010-2050 (IWMI, based on UNFPA 2010). factor that directly or indirectly causes a change in the developing world, populations are rapidly in an ecosystem (carpenter et al. 2006). such increasing, reducing food security and nutrition (von drivers can be observed at global and local scales, Braun 2007). in Europe and East asia, populations ultimately putting direct or indirect pressure on the are aging rapidly2, and in much of the developed management of our natural resources (nelson et al. world, populations are stable or declining (WWa 2006). Key global drivers discussed in this section 2009). Water resources development cannot center around food security, and, to a limited extent, keep up with population growth and hence water energy, as major influences affecting water demand scarcity, defined as less than 1000 cubic meters and increasing pressure on ecosystems. available water resources per capita per year, is increasing (Khosh-chashm 2000). unfortunately, 2.2.1 Demographic drivers most of the population increases will occur in water stressed areas with fragile ecosystems–in africa obviously, the main driver relating to food security and the middle East, hence further increasing local is demographic pressure: in order to feed 9 billion water scarcity (figure 4). people by 2050, food production has to increase. since a higher number of people means the one of the traditional coping strategies to deal with consumption of more resources and population environmental stress has been migration, another growth under current scenarios will lead to reduced important demographic driver. While earlier reports food security, increased water use, more pollution of suggested that climate change would be a main the natural resources and ecosystem degradation. driver of migration, in reality socio-economic this will result in destruction of natural habitats such circumstances are the key determinants (tacoli as forest, in favor of land for people and crops. as 2011). Hence migration could be defined as an access to forest resources declines there is pressure adaptive response to diversify sources of income. on rural people to derive forest products, such as people become more vulnerable to variability as fuel, fodder and timber from farm land, often in natural resources, mobility patterns may change meaning that these products compete with food with regard to distance, duration and type of crops if not tightly managed (muthuri et al. 2005). migrants. international migrants have an impact agroecosystems tend to use more water than on urbanization in their country of origin, as they natural ecosystems, and higher production is often tend to invest in small and medium towns, attracting associated with higher water use, so that increased local, often seasonal, migrants (tacoli 2011). food requirements for a growing population put a huge stress on water resources (ca 2007). the challenge is therefore to improve water productivity 2 While aging populations might appear to be outside of the drivers affecting at the landscape or river basin level, especially for the water sector, older people require more medical help, and water that is better sanitized (WWA 2009). This will increase the water needs of aging the rapidly growing populations in the drier areas populations slightly, though this effect is most likely marginal as compared of many developing countries (ong et al. 2006). to that of global population growth. 8 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 23. in 2008 the world’s population was split evenly varies between 1–1.5 kg GE/person/day for a between urban and rural dwellers. By 2030 vegetarian diet (using 1000–1500 liters of water) there will be 1.8 billion more urban dwellers, and 4–5 kg GE/p/d in wealthy societies (meat and 100 million fewer rural inhabitants (WWa rich diet; using 4000–5000 liter). under current 2009). urbanization, foreseen to continue at an agricultural practices this would also result in an accelerating pace, is expected to account for 70 increasing demand for land (up to 200 million ha percent of world population in 2050. as people additional by 2030) (Bindraban et al. 2010b). move to cities, their energy needs increase as this does not even consider the impact of people’s urban middle and upper classes begin to use need for fibers and fuel in the light of generally personal cars for transportation, use more electricity declining forest area. since 2000, production of at home, and consume more energy-intensive diets biofuels, particularly ethanol and biodiesel for use (more meat and processed foods) (Kearney 2010). in the transport sector, has tripled and is projected demand for aquaculture products like fish and to double again within the next decade (fao shrimp continues to rise (ca 2007), endangering 2008a). this increase has been driven largely by the health of aquatic ecosystems in many areas policy support measures in the developed countries, (Hoanh et al. 2010). Wealthier urban inhabitants seeking to mitigate climate change, enhance energy are likely to consume both more calories and higher security, and support the agricultural sector. if the protein diets (especially dairy and meat products world switches from fossil fuels to the production that have higher water requirements per calorie) of biofuels, this will have immense impacts on than their rural counterparts (von Braun 2007; de ecosystems and water availability (de fraiture fraiture and Wichelns 2010). this will increase et al. 2008; Bindraban et al. 2009a). currently and concentrate food demands (cirera and masset biofuels account for 0.2% of total global energy 2010). urbanization also increases the reliance on consumption, 1.5% of total road transport fuels, 2% sanitation and water storage as more people need of global cropland, 7% of global coarse grain use water in one place. this in turn will increase water and 9% of global vegetable oil use (fao 2008b). pollution and increase the amount of pollutants that the water is exposed to. in addition, large urban areas covered with impervious surfaces will increase the risk of flood disasters. increases in energy consumption will put more pressure on the environment to generate more energy (e.g. hydropower). People living in cities also produce more waste in higher concentrations than those in rural areas. they tend to use products that require more processing, and consume food that needs to be transported longer distances, both of which cause more pollution. urbanization and the increase in the world’s population both lead to increased trade. trade of agricultural commodities has impacts on ecosystem services at the production end, distant from the point of consumption of the products. trade will grow in importance, both between rural and urban areas and internationally between countries. While in certain parts of the world, sheer population Photo: Karen Conniff growth and aggravated social inequities lead to reduced food security, in the wealthier parts of the world, higher consumption per person further increases food demand (von Braun 2007). in terms of grain equivalent (GE), consumption generally In parts of Ethiopia, manure is not used to enhance soil fertility, but for cooking. E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 9
  • 24. these shares are projected to rise over the next decade. (fischlin et al. 2007). climate change is predicted While two thirds of the world’s poorest people still rely to affect agriculture and forestry systems through on fuel wood and charcoal as their major source of higher temperatures, elevated carbon dioxide (co2) heat and cooking, representing over 40% of wood concentration, precipitation changes and increased removal from forest globally (fao 2006), biofuels pressure from weeds, pests and disease (fao have contributed to higher food prices, with adverse 2009d). in the short term, the frequency of extreme effects on consumers (von Braun 2007). events such as droughts, heat waves, floods and severe storms is expected to increase. 2.2.2 Climate change and other shocks Water links earth’s atmosphere, land masses, and oceans through the global hydrological cycle. While there is increased pressure due to human aside from providing one of the key ingredients of population increases, additional uncertainty is due life on planet earth, the hydrological cycle has a to other factors such as weather variability caused great many other important functions, which include by climate change and other external shocks (e.g. energy exchanges, erosion, climate regulation, sudden rise in food prices, or epidemics). the united and the transference of bio-active chemicals. the nations framework convention on climate change effects of climate change on the hydrological defines climate change as “a change of climate that cycle are nearly impossible to predict on a local is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity scale, but certain global changes are likely (Jung that alters the composition of the global atmosphere et al. 2010). there is consensus among climate and that is in addition to natural climate variability scientists that warming will accelerate the global observed over comparable time periods” (Pachauri hydrological cycle, resulting in changes in stream and reisinger 2007). the fourth assessment flow, precipitation, atmospheric water content, soil report of the iPcc concluded that current global moisture, ocean salinity, and glacier mass balance. climate change was primarily anthropogenic and likely to result in profoundly negative consequences as agriculture is mostly dependent on the hydrologic for a majority of the world’s population (Pachauri cycle, food production will be greatly affected and reisinger 2007). While the effects of climate by changes in precipitation, soil moisture, and change on food security, ecosystems and water may evapotranspiration. Local agricultural production be overtaken by the impacts of population growth, may increase or decrease under conditions of the two may reinforce each other and worsen the climate change, depending on geographic features vulnerability of many poor people in the world. this such as elevation, latitude and other circumstances. may be further aggravated by other external shocks However all current quantitative assessments such as local food shortages, sudden increases in indicate that climate change will adversely affect food prices and financial crises, and the ability of food security in developing countries, particularly poor people to cope may be undermined by chronic africa, and increase the dependency of many vulnerability, low education, and exposure to disease. of these countries on food imports. it is estimated that climate change will reduce africa’s potential Predicting the effects of global climate change is a agricultural output by 15–30 percent by the 2080– process that is daunting in scale and uncertain at best 2100 period (fao 2009d). Poor female and male in its application. several predictions are generally farmers have a low ability to cope with extreme agreed upon however: first, that the average global climatic events and climatic variability due to small temperature will increase at an accelerated rate, landholding, less control over water, lack of access and second, that weather events will become less to capital, reduced participation in decision-making predictable, more severe, and probably more frequent and less access to adequate information. as well. some ecosystems are more vulnerable to these changes than others, but in many cases their climate change will have a variety of effects on the resilience will be exceeded, leading to irreversible water sector. Water planners will be less able to use losses of biodiversity and various ecosystem services historical data to plan, design, or operate hydrological such as the regulation of pests and water flows systems, though new prediction models are under 10 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 25. development, which will enable policy solutions (ca and development. it has also focused people’s 2007). additionally, extreme hydrologic events such attention away from environmental and hydrological as floods, droughts and storm surges will become issues, and much more towards financial issues, more common, appear in new places, and appear a change in attention which in turn tends to have with increased intensity and frequency (solomon et negative consequences on food security. the recent al. 2007). in most places, unpredictable weather rise in world food prices has driven 110 million more variability will decrease the availability of water, even people into poverty. over the next several decades, if it is more abundant: drought-flood cycles may result food prices are predicted to rise by another 30– in increased annual precipitation, but decrease the 50% due to the inability of food production to keep ease of access to water. under these circumstances, it up with growing demand (nellemann et al. 2009). becomes highly important to capture and store the water development aid to agriculture decreased by some so that it can be used for food production. otherwise, 58% between 1980 and 2005, even though more crops and livestock may be lost through floods total official development assistance increased and drought (Bates et al. 2008). coupled with impacts significantly by 112%- over the same period (fao on water quality, fresh water systems are particularly 2009c). this meant that the share of aid funds vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change going to the agricultural sector fell from 17% in (Bates et al. 2008). the increase in the average 1980 to 3.8% in 2006, with the same downward temperature may benefit some areas, but on the whole trend observed in national budgets. reduce the arable land area leading to decreased food production (Parry et al. 2007). furthermore, this 2.3 The necessity of will disproportionately affect sub-saharan africa (de Ecosystems and water Wit and stankiewicz 2006), where food production for food Security per capita is already lowest (mcintyre et al. 2008). in general, arid and semi-arid regions are predicted Ecosystems provide food both in their natural state to experience significant temperature increases and (for instance through capture fisheries and forest reduced precipitation (sivakumar 2005). climate products) and in the form of managed landscapes change will also adversely affect ecosystems by (such as in crop systems, through agroforestry, changing the climatic conditions that they rely on, livestock keeping and aquaculture). to feed a which may result in decreased biodiversity, decreased growing population, food production has to grow ecosystem services and reduced human well-being in too, which in turn means that more water is needed many areas of the world (unEP 2007). on the other to sustain agricultural, aquaculture and livestock hand, while climate change can be seen as a driver of production systems. Water is one of the main food and water security, agricultural food production factors limiting future food production, particularly also has its own effects on climate change. there is also in the poorest areas of the world where access increasing evidence for linkages between reduction in to water, and its timely availability, is a problem. tree cover and rainfall, that may extend much further over 1.6 billion people live in areas of physical than previously thought (makarieva et al. 2010). for water scarcity and without changes in management example, the reduction of forest areas in East africa this figure could soon grow to 2 billion (figure 5). is one of the main causes of more frequent droughts, With the same practices, increased urbanization which currently affect large parts of the region (unEP and changed diets, the amount of water required 2006b). more examples of the impact of agriculture for agriculture to feed the world population would on climate change are given in appendix 8. have to grow from 7,130 km3 (today’s amount)3 to between 12,050 and 13,500 km3 by 2050, other than food crises, economic crises have representing an increase of 70–90% (ca 2007). large impacts on food security, ecosystems and the efficiency of water use. the recent world- the millennium Ecosystem assessment (www. wide financial crisis increased the occurrence of maweb.org) sought to catalogue the state of the protectionist policies, decreasing world-wide food trade and reducing the amount of money devoted to development projects and technological research 3 This is more than the 4,500 km3 for food as estimated by Rockström et al. (2007) in Section 2.1. E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 11
  • 26. Photo: UNEP Rice is an important crop for food security that needs a lot of water. Little or no water scarcity Approaching physical water scarcity Not estimated Physical water scarcity Economic water scarcity Definitions and indicators Figure 5. Areas of physical and economic water scarcity water resources relative to use, withmeans that25% of water from abundant relative to use, with less than 25% • Little or no water scarcity. Abundant (CA 2007). Little or no water scarcity less than water resources are rivers withdrawn for of water from rivers withdrawn for human purposes. Physical water scarcity means that water resources development is approaching or has exceeded sustainable limits: more human purposes. • Physical water scarcity (water resources development is approaching or has exceeded sustainable limits). More than 75% of than 75% of river flowsows withdrawn. Approaching physicalindustry, and domestic purposes (accounting for recycling of return ows). This will experience physical river are are withdrawn for agriculture, water scarcity means that more than 60% of river flows are withdrawn and these basins water scarcity inde nition—relating water water scarcity means demand—implies that dry areas relative to water use,waterless than 25% of river flows withdrawn, but the near future. Economic availability to water that water resources are abundant are not necessarily with scarce. lack of human, institutional,thephysical water scarcity.access to water and malnutrition are withdrawn. These basins will experience physical water • Approaching scarcity in andnear future. limits More than 60% of river ows exists. financial capital • Economic water scarcity (human, institutional, and financial capital limit access to water even though water in nature is available locally to meet human demands). Water resources are abundant relative to water use, with less than 25% of water from rivers environment and assess the consequences of 4 withdrawn for human purposes, but malnutrition exists. the expense of reductions in other ecosystem services, Source: International Water Management Institute analysis done for the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management ecosystemAgriculture using the Watersim model; chapter(appendix in change on human well-being 2. such as those supporting or regulating other things 3), including its effects on food production. the ma that people need (such as drinking water, flood and points out that the significant increases in provisioning drought protection, nutrient recycling and regulation of services (largely the goods used by people) achieved in pests and disease). We are thus facing a tremendous recent times, and in particular food production through challenge where we need to develop agriculture agriculture, to a large extent has been achieved at to feed the world, use water and allocate water to agriculture much more efficiently, and develop new 4 More on ecosystems, agroecosystems, and ecosystem services in Section 3.1. 12 E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y
  • 27. water resources while ensuring that ecosystems to provide environmental services. more specifically continue to provide environmental services. as it is essential to take the following measures (based on fao netherlands 2005): the rural poor and marginal groups have a greater direct reliance on ecosystem services. they also have • Increasing water productivity and ecosystems less capacity to cope with degraded ecosystems preservation: Efforts to improve food security and services and therefore are more and more rural livelihoods must focus on raising water pro- immediately vulnerable to ecosystem degradation ductivity in both rainfed and irrigated agriculture (Wri 2005). However, food production does not and on increasing the availability of affordable, necessarily have to come at the expense of other environmentally acceptable water, especially for services (Bennett et al. 2009) and cases exist the poor, women, and marginal groups, in a way where investments in sustainable agriculture can that generates maximum socio-economic returns. actually raise food production while also benefitting ecosystem processes (Pretty et al. 2006). Hence • Harnessing new water supplies: surface and there is a need for a better managed and balanced groundwater supplies for agriculture and water delivery of ecosystem services. this means that in storage capacity will have to increase significant- some places and cases you might have to reduce ly to meet growing food and energy requirements some services at the expense of others, while in other in the context of climate change. cases you might be able to find win-win situations. the ecosystem services approach (section 3.1 and • Ensuring access to food and improving nutrition: appendix 1) is useful both in focusing attention on, access to food at the individual, local and conti- and in finding better ways to manage, the wide nental levels should be ensured through pro-poor range of processes that an agricultural system or policies. domestic development policies (includ- landscape can generate and could help better ing subsidies and implicit taxes), international as- identify beforehand what the services are that will sistance programs and international trade agree- be impacted by a specific intervention (section 5.2). ments will have to acknowledge and support the centrality of agriculture-based development in the current situation of ecosystem degradation from these policies. the impact of over-withdrawal of water for agriculture is already one characterized by dried-up and polluted • Increasing investments: Gender sensitive invest- rivers, lakes and groundwater. for example, more ments are needed to meet the demand for food, than 50% of wetlands have been lost during the last to increase the productivity and development of century (iucn 2000). if the same practices continue water, preserve the ecosystems services and to to be used it would result in inevitable degradation or improve the livelihoods of rural women and men. complete destruction of the terrestrial freshwater and coastal ecosystems that are vital to life itself. instead, • Increasing ecological food production in/for cit- appropriate strategies, safeguards, options and ies: Environmental regulations and parallel invest- technical solutions need to be developed in order to ments in municipal and industrial waste treatment ensure that water can provide for diversified incomes are needed to improve the quality of river water and food security. these strategies should be based and their related ecosystems, ensuring better qual- upon a better understanding of the functioning of ity water for food. ecosystems, be they terrestrial, aquatic, or marine, and their interrelation with the availability and the • Developing more consistent, comprehensive wa- quality of water. ter, ecosystems and food policies: Governments need to intensify efforts to prepare medium and for agriculture to feed the world water allocated long-term water, ecosystems and food policies to agriculture (crops, fish, livestock) must be used at the local, national and regional levels, which more efficiently and new water resources must be integrate the differentiated needs, interests and developed while ensuring that ecosystems continue perceptions of communities, and especially poor men and women. E c o s y s t E m s f o r Wat E r a n d f o o d s E c u r i t y 13