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Integrated agriculture water management and health











​FAO. 2020. Integrated agriculture water management and health. Rome.



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    Accessibility to clean and sufficient water resources for agriculture is key in feeding the steadily increasing world population in a sustainable manner. Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) offer a promising contribution to enhance availability and quality of water for productive purposes and human consumption, while simultaneously striving to preserve the integrity and intrinsic value of the ecosystems. Implementing successful NBS for water management, however, is not an easy task since many ecosystems are already severely degraded, and exploited beyond their regenerative capacity. Furthermore, ecosystems are large and complex and the many stakeholders involved might have conflicting interests. Hence, implementation of NBS requires a structured and comprehensive approach that starts with the valuation of the services provided by the ecosystem. The whole set of use and non-use values, in monetary terms, provides a factual basis to guide the implementation of NBS, which ideally is done according to transdisciplinary principles, i.e. complemented with scientific and case-specific knowledge of the eco-system in an adaptive decision-making process that involves the relevant stakeholders. This discussion paper evaluated twenty-one NBS case studies using a non-representative sample, to learn from successful and failed experiences and to identify possible causalities among factors that characterize the implementation of NBS. The case studies give a minor role to valuation of ecosystem services, an area for which the literature is still developing guidance. Less successful water management projects tend to suffer from inadequate factual and scientific basis and uncoordinated or insufficient stakeholder involvement and lack of long term planning. Successful case studies point to satisfactory understanding of the functioning of ecosystems and importance of multi-stakeholder platforms, well-identified funding schemes, realistic monitoring and evaluation systems and endurance of its promoters.
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    Forests are intrinsically linked to water – forested watersheds provide 75 percent of our accessible freshwater resources (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005) – and both forest and water resources are relevant to the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the important interlinkages, the forest-water nexus is often unaccounted for in policy and planning. For example, three quarters of forests are not managed for soil and water conservation, which poses a fundamental challenge to achieving sustainable and resilient communities and ecosystems. It is paramount to employ an integrated approach to forest and water resources in management and policy that takes into account the complexity and contextual nature of forest-water relationships. To achieve this, we must improve our understanding of forest-water relationships within local contexts and at different scales, as well as our ability to design, implement, and learn from landscape approaches that both rely on these forest-water relationships, and impact them. In this context, FAO’s Forest and Water Programme has developed a module-based capacity development facilitation guide for project and community stakeholders involved in forest, water and natural resource management to ensure we apply our knowledge to better manage forests and trees for their multiple benefits, including water quantity, quality and the associated socio-economic benefits that people within and outside forests so heavily depend on.
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    Integrated flood management for resilient agrifood systems and rural development 2023
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    This report presents a perspective on the impacts of flooding in rural areas and how to address them in an integrated way that delivers multiple long-term benefits for people (food, water, and economic security) and nature. The challenges faced by rural communities are illustrated and a strategic approach to flood management is presented. The approach advocated is based on a paradigm of planning that connects the short and long term, seeks to simultaneously manage flood risk to people, their agrifood systems, related livelihoods and the economy, while promoting the positive (and necessary) role floods play in maintaining productive agriculture (and aquaculture) and ecosystem health. In doing so, the approach embeds the concepts of disaster risk reduction (DRR) that are integral to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, which contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the crucial need to progress at pace towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The report highlights how flood management practice has evolved throughout history largely in response to flood events. This heuristic approach has yielded some important advances in both policy and planning. Central to this has been the shift from a reactive emergency-based response towards a proactive approach aimed at reducing and managing flood risks. There is however more to do. Recognizing that rural areas have received disproportionately less attention, and current approaches to planning and management are less well established in rural areas compared to urban areas (Asian Development Bank, 2018), a small number of recommendations are set to help make more rapid progress towards flood resilience in rural settings.

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