Climate change, water and food security

Climate change, water and food security

Anticipated impacts of climate change on water availability for agriculture and the implications for local and national food security

This report summarises current knowledge of the anticipated impacts of climate change on water availability for agriculture. It examines the implications for local and national food security and the methods and approaches for assessing climate change impacts on water and agriculture. It emphasises the need for a closer alignment between water and agricultural policies and makes the case for immediate implementation of ‘no-regrets’ strategies which have both positive development outcomes and make agricultural systems resilient to future impacts.

The report makes the following recommendations to help develop practical adaptation and mitigation strategies for agricultural water management in developing countries.

  • Ensure better prediction of the impacts on agricultural systems in closely specified regions and production systems using the typology and decision analysis outlined in the publication.
  • Provide assistance in developing and applying downscaling techniques to better analyse agroclimatic futures and build local capacity for climate modelling and adaptation.
  • Conduct targeted analysis of the investment needs for different solutions, which take into account long-term embodied and operational energy use for all agricultural impact and adaptation studies, and sit at a higher strategic level than work on irrigation and water use in agriculture.
In tandem with the above activities:
  • it is necessary to expand the density, detail and frequency of monitoring of climatic and hydrologic systems in order to confirm the evolution of trends and modelled predictions, refine the assessment of impacts, and manage adaptive strategies accordingly
  • improved information on the nature and dynamics of key production systems is required
  • it will be necessary to evaluate, document and disseminate good practice at farm, system and strategic levels
  • it is important to tease out the environmental consequences, options and trade-offs involved in both meeting future agricultural demands and accommodating climate change.
In conclusion, the paper focuses on action needed to assist developing countries to assess probable climate change impacts on irrigated agriculture, food production and in adapting agricultural water management to cope with the range of anticipated impacts.
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