Arab Ministers Endorse Regional Mechanisms for Sustainable Land and Water Use
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The ministerial meeting stressed the need to increase investments in agricultural water management through enhanced use of technical innovations, data management and analysis, and exchange of expertise.

In 2017, ESCWA, FAO and Arab Horizon 2030 published a joint report titled, ‘Prospects for Enhancing Food Security in the Arab Region,’ which singles out the agriculture sector as a key entry point for addressing water usage efficiency.

4 April 2019: The first-ever joint meeting of Arab ministers of agriculture and water adopted a joint declaration calling on all Arab governments and partners to institutionalize regional coordination mechanisms and harmonize policies across both sectors to enhance the region’s response to the impacts of climate change, land degradation, and water scarcity and contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The meeting took place at the conclusion of the Near East and North Africa (NENA) Land and Water Days 2019, held from 31 March to 3 April 2019 in Cairo, Egypt. It was co-organized by the League of Arab States, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the regional office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD).

In 2017, ESCWA, FAO and Arab Horizon 2030 published a joint report titled, ‘Prospects for Enhancing Food Security in the Arab Region,’ which singles out the agriculture sector as a key entry point for addressing water use efficiency. The report notes that while the sector is vital for boosting food security and rural incomes, it consumes nearly 80 percent of the total water resources of the region and only contributes to 7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The ministerial meeting stressed the need to increase investments in agricultural water management through enhanced use of technical innovations, data management and analysis, and exchange of expertise. Ministers also called for increased coordination among partners and harmonization and integration of policies across the two sectors in sustainable development strategies.

The 2019 NENA Land and Water Days brought together more than 300 officials and experts from the region to discuss the integrated management of natural resources to mitigate climate change effects and ensure access to water, energy and food in a human rights-based approach. Participants addressed key challenges and solutions for sustainable land and water management for food security, organized around five thematic areas: pathways to sustainable scarce water resources management; halting land degradation; land and water governance to achieve the SDGs in fragile systems; impacts of climate change on regional development and prospects for increased resilience; and scaling up investments in water for agriculture. [ESCWA Press Release] [2019 NENA Land and Water Days Website]

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