The food and agriculture perspective
69% of global water withdrawals come from the agriculture sector, highlighting the need for improved water efficiency in the sector. Improved efficiency will not only lead to increased water availability, but also reduce energy needed for getting water. By reducing the agriculture sector’s water and energy demands, they can lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.
Irrigation is a commonly understood method to increase water efficiency in agriculture, but it does not actually lead to water savings at larger scales. This is because farms that produce an already large amount of crops will take these water savings and produce even more crops with the same volume of water as before. The lack of actual water savings highlights the importance of conservation agriculture, which allows soils to retain more water and reduce water and energy demand.
Additionally, the agriculture sector and consumers produce a significant amount of food waste that contributes to global greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing food waste, we can also mitigate climate change.
The land use and ecosystem perspective
Healthy ecosystems can capture carbon far better than human efforts to do the same, but degraded ecosystems can in their turn be a source of carbon emissions. These ecosystems must be maintained and rehabilitated with improved water management. Efforts to improve land use, such as reforestation, will also impact ecosystems, therefore these potential impacts should be accounted for. The report stresses that any land use or ecosystem change in response to climate change should also take into account local environmental and socioeconomic conditions.
The water supply, sanitation and wastewater treatment perspective
Improved approaches to this sector can mitigate climate change, especially through treating and reusing wastewater. By reusing water in a circular water management system, the water sector can reduce the amount of energy it needs. Preventing the dispersal of wastewater is also important because wastewater is a source of greenhouse gases. One of the most effective ways to treat wastewater is by constructing wetlands, especially in places with operational and maintenance constraints.
When water-related projects are carried out, there are broader socio-economic co-benefits, such as increased employment and income opportunities. Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project, for example, has given women and girls in the communities we serve the time and opportunity to earn revenue and go to school. The report states that water-related projects are more likely to get funding if their proposals state specific and realistic co-benefits across sectors.
Written by: Gari DeRamos, DSH's former intern