On August 22, 2023 the European Irrigation Association (EIA) was invited to take part in the World Water Week in Stockholm .
World Water Week 2023 is focused on innovation at a time of unprecedented challenges. The theme “Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World” invites all stakeholders to rethink how we manage water.
Participants at Stockholm World Water Week (https://www.worldwaterweek.org/ ) know that sustainable agricultural water management is at the heart of food security and climate resilience, and therefore central to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including good health and well-being, life on land, life under water, and responsible consumption and production.
World opinion leaders, including farmer representatives, highlighted the role of agricultural water management in advancing the inextricably linked Sustainable Development Goals, beyond concerns about water scarcity and quality.
On Tuesday 22 august, Kathy Boomer from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research Moderated a session with the title: "Collaboration in agricultural water management: Solutions to Advance SDGs". Following an introduction to the topic, a provocatory panel of 4 experts* shared their ideas/examples of global principles to advance local implementation (i.e., science-based water resource management), which was followed by respond panelist** who joined the provocatory panel and reflected on how the discussion could inspire investment/collaboration, based on their experience supporting global watershed stewardship.
The various interventions demonstrated the complexity of water management in agriculture worldwide, the diversity of different situations and the high degree of uncertainty faced by farmers. The topics of Trust between stakeholders and the need to identify the real decision-makers in water management were discussed with suggested models for developing measurement tools to reduce the degree of uncertainty.
Moshi Berenstein, President of EIA, presented the irrigation industry perspectives, challenges and proposed solutions for water collaborations. While responding to the Provocateur panel, Moshi began with setting the scene around 3 main irrigation observations: understanding what resilience irrigation and the urgent call is and the need for irrigating differently, the inefficiency of current irrigation used technologies where 75% of irrigated land is flooded and finally the need to change current political narrative against irrigation (Agriculture and Landscape) which is based on outdated legacy system thinking.
Few examples were presented to demonstrate current collaborations within the sector. Connected agriculture, monitoring, control and distance management, innovative breakthrough technologies merged with classical irrigation methods as part of AGRI4.0 digital revolution and collaborations to achieve higher level of optimization. Agri Voltaic with water saving in shadowed agriculture and GHG emissions reduction growing rice with micro irrigation were mentioned as examples for crossed sectorial collaboration to serve several SDGs.
Moshi also underlined the necessity to include irrigation industry in sustainable discussion in Europe, where Irrigation is not yet considered as Economical Activity , with notably a greater representation of the irrigation industry in the European Taxonomy (EU Regulation 2020/852).
Finally a call to action mostly aimed for food companies collaboration was suggested for the creation of “Sustainable Irrigation Label “for Framers‘ final products. Branding smart water usage can create awareness to the importance of water management and will help farmers in transitioning to more sustainable AG practices.
*Provocator panel : Shama Perveen Director, Water Ceres - Tom Iseman Global Freshwater Program for The Nature Conservancy - Charlotte de Fraiture, UN IHE Delft Institute - Nick Brozovic, researcher at University of Nebraska.
**Respond panelists : Moshi Berenstein, Netafim and President of European Irrigation Association - Madhu Rajesh, Coca-Cola – and Jessica Christiansen, Bayer Crop Science.