Towards the High-Level Dialogue on WASAG – Technical Meeting on the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

By: LAKO M. Stéphane

WASAG is the Global Water Scarcity Framework on water scarcity in Agriculture in a Changing Climate led by 75 partners with strong support from FAO under the Land and Water Division since 2016. Its mandate is to support countries and stakeholders in their commitments and plans to cope with water scarcity in agriculture. This is done through advocacy, dialogues, knowledge sharing, and recently cooperation on field programs. This whole work for the past seven years is supported by a Technical Secreteriat, a Steering Committee and 06 working groups where partners develop knowledge products, guidelines and share their resources to find appropriate solutions on finance, migration, water use, nutrition, drought and salinity.

After the  Rome Statement on Water Scarcity in Agriculture in April 2017 setting water scarcity as a key priority, 02 International Fora where WASAG took commitments in March 2019 and set a call for action in February 2023 to turn water scarcity into opportunities which were translated into WASAG 2021 – 2024 Strategy, WASAG is taking a step ahead towards the 2nd High level Dialogue on water scarcity in agriculture and a new operating structure through the technical preparatory meeting held in Roma April 29th – 30th 2024. 

This meeting gathered Representatives of FAO Permanent Representations, regional organizations, other intergovernmental agencies and international organizations, UN agencies, Academia,Civil society organizations, Water users, Farmers’ associations and Private sector organizations. It’s aim was to prepare for the High-Level Dialogue on WASAG that will take place during the WFF in October 2024; review key WASAG operating mechanisms to make WASAG more impactful and effective; share experiences and knowledge in addressing water scarcity by countries and related FAO global and regional initiatives; and provide recommendations on priorities in addressing water scarcity in agriculture and to the Global Water related processes such as the forthcoming World Water Week and the World Water Forum. 

Outcomes of the meeting paved the way towards a draft of the Rome declaration engaging member state for stronger and higher support of WASAG with focus on advocacy and financing; a new WASAG structure shifting from a partnership led organization towards a member state led organization; a new working group on ecosystem based solution to water scarcity; launch of a consultation process gearing towards the 2025 -2031 WASAG Strategy; recognition of necessity of more field engagement of partners for knowledge transfer and direct advisory support to countries;  recognition of Gender, Youth and migration as cross cutting key issues in addressing water scarcity; renewed commitment of leading countries to support WASAG in its future steps like Cabo Verde, Netherland, Switzerland, Italy and Canada.

As a cross cutting issue this global framework addressing water scarcity in agriculture have the potential of fueling all efforts existing in food and water system to address climate change and is also a fertile ground to apply most of the principles, knowledge and technology developed in those fields to feed more with less on a longer timeframe.