Water and Agriculture: Implications for Development and Growth
November 10, 2009
At a time of mounting population pressures, environmental declines, and growing demand for water, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)—positioned at the nexus of academic study and policy analysis—convened international leaders from government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and academia to share their expertise in water, agriculture, and global development. In the realm of technology and innovation, contributing authors point to drip irrigation, drought-resistant plant breeding, wastewater treatment for irrigation reuse, and satellite-based assessments as promising tools to enhance water efficiency and agricultural production. On the micro level, there is a need to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through small-scale soil and water management practices and entrepreneurial, market-based approaches. Resolving the resource conundrum will require concerted political will and action at all levels. Contributing authors suggest that water should be priced correctly to incentivize efficient use; that the public sector should pursue more multi-stakeholder partnerships; and that development approaches should integrate the complex nexus of food, water, and energy into policymaking and management. Although the challenges are vast, experts agree that it is indeed possible to create a future in which water resources and agriculture represent forces of resilience rather than vulnerability.