IFS is a Partner in the Global Framework on Water Scarcity

Published: 2017-05-17

In its ongoing strategic efforts to collaborate with like-minded institutions, IFS is now a partner in the Global Framework on Water Security (GFWS), and joined the Partners Meeting held from 19-20 April 2017 at the FAO Headquarters in Rome. The key results of the meeting were: Rome Statement issued to demonstrate commitment and inspire partners of the Global Framework to address jointly water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate, 14-member Interim Steering Committee established, Chair and Vice-Chair elected, Vision, mission and broad objectives agreed, and Elements of Joint Workplan developed.

Summary Note (abridged) of the GFWS Partners Meeting

The interest, enthusiasm and backing shown since FAO launched the Global Framework on Water Scarcity during COP22 in Morocco, on 16 November 2016, led the Partners Meeting to engage the participants successfully and bring the initiative to a key milestone.

In the run up to the Partners Meeting, the Summit of Water Ministers at the Second World Irrigation Forum in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in November 2016, issued a firm endorsement to the then-proposed Global Framework. Some 83 Ministers of Agriculture followed suit during the 9th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in January 2017. Finally, the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Declaration 2017 and accompanying Action Plan 2017 acknowledged the Global Framework as an emerging option for coping with water scarcity.

This enthusiasm for collaboration on sparking action in agriculture and food systems to cope with water scarcity, and to adapt to and mitigate climate change, was evident during the First Partners Meeting, held in Rome on 19-20 April 2017. The meeting represented a great step forward – the start of working together with a common vision and mission, key objectives, priorities and a joint workplan that will be further developed and implemented with an envisaged two-year timeline.

The meeting’s agenda was ambitious, in keeping with the framework itself. It gathered over 100 participants from 28 of the 30 founding partner institutions, alongside other FAO member governments, UN agencies, international financing institutions, research and academic institutions (global, regional and national), global think tanks, networks and civil society organizations.

Aside from the joint vision and mission statement and broad objectives, partners and other stakeholders – many of whom expressed interest in becoming partners – agreed on the initiative’s light structure and collaboration mechanisms. This included setting up an Interim Steering Committee of 14 members, representing each constituency (countries, UN agencies, research, academia/education, civil society and membership organizations). (They elected by acclamation Mr. Torkil Jønch Clausen as the committee’s Chair, and Ms. Mariet Verhoef-Cohen as the Vice Chair. Mr. Clausen is Governor of the World Water Council and senior adviser to the Global Water Partnership, while Ms. Verhoef-Cohen is president of the Women for Water Partnership and Soroptimist International. The committee will serve for up to 2 years until the work plan is further developed and the second partners meeting is held (tentatively set for Stockholm, Sweden, prior to World Water Week 2018).

The Rome Statement, a signal of intent for the framework to elevate the water scarcity agenda to the highest global, regional and national levels, was well received. Although the text is non-binding, participants felt that the commitment to the task ahead was in place. The Rome Statement and Vision, Mission, and Objectives of the initiative are attached, along with the terms of reference of the Interim Steering Committee and of its Chair and Vice Chair.

The advance sharing of drafts of background documents allowed participants to provide early feedback and enhanced the effectiveness of the facilitated sessions. The diverse technical knowledge of participants from the water, agriculture and climate change sectors, together with global and bilateral donors keen to listen to new ideas, was an important element in the meeting’s success. Participants felt contributions by FAO Deputy-Director General, Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, and Assistant Director-General, Mr. Rene Castro, demonstrated FAO’s high-level commitment. They also praised the participatory process and facilitation of the meeting.

 The next step is for FAO to continue the process of engagement to move forward quickly and efficiently. FAO and all partners are keen to work closely with the Interim Steering Committee to ensure that the Global Framework achieves it goals and supports countries and stakeholders as they address the challenges water scarcity and climate change bring to agriculture and food systems.

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