Agriculture's Historic Twin-Challenge Toward Sustainable Water Use and Food Supply for All

Jonas Jägermeyr, Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)
A sustainable and just future, envisioned by the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, puts agricultural systems under a heavy strain. The century-old quandary to provide ever-growing human populations with sufficient food takes on a new dimension with the recognition of environmental limits for agricultural resource use. To highlight challenges and opportunities toward sustainable food security in the twenty first century, this perspective paper provides a historical account of the
more » ... lating pressures on agriculture and freshwater resources alike, supported by new quantitative estimates of the ascent of excessive human water use. As the transformation of global farming into sustainable forms is unattainable without a revolution in agricultural water use, water saving and food production potentials are put into perspective with targets outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The literature body and here-confirmed global estimates of untapped opportunities in farm water management indicate that these measures could sustainably intensify today's farming systems at scale. While rigorous implementation of sustainable water withdrawals (SDG 6.4) might impinge upon 5% of global food production, scaling-up water interventions in rainfed and irrigated systems could over-compensate such losses and further increase global production by 30% compared to the current situation (SDG 2.3). Without relying on future technological fixes, traditional on-farm water and soil management provides key strategies associated with important synergies that needs better integration into agro-ecological landscape approaches. Integrated strategies for sustainable intensification of agriculture within planetary boundaries are a potential way to attain several SDGs, but they are not yet receiving attention from high-level development policies. © Copyright © 2020 Jägermeyr.
doi:10.34657/9604 fatcat:rfwlza4ixvgbbdi5cknn53l2xq