On March 29 and 30, following up on the UN 2023 Water Conference, the WFO Gymnasium High-Level Capacity Building Program held a two-day digital technical session on “Sustainable water management to protect and restore biodiversity”. 

Mr Ruhiza Boroto, Head of the Secretariat of the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG), kicked off the first day’s session by introducing Gymnasium students to the critical role of effective water use in agriculture for ensuring food security for all. He spoke passionately about how WASAG is tackling the collective challenge of sustainable water management.

Next, Mr Romano De Vivo, Vice President of Sustainability at WFO’s Partner CropLife International, emphasized the importance of combining best on-farm practices with innovative technologies for better water management in agriculture. 

Ms Mira Markova, a DRR expert at the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), explained the importance of disaster risk management in agriculture, including water-related disaster risk reduction. Students even had the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of disaster risk managers during a roleplay exercise and share their experiences with disaster outcome mitigation techniques that they implemented on their farms. 

The first day’s session ended on a high note with Ms Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) and WFO Board Member, sharing sustainable water management practices being implemented in the Eastern African region. She called upon young farmers to protect and restore biodiversity and water resources. 

On the second day of the session, Mr Inga Jacobs-Mata from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) discussed how to build water security to create more sustainable and resilient food systems. Mr Francesco Brusaporco, Policy Officer at the WFO Secretariat, reported on the takeaways from the UN 2023 Water Conference for the global farmers’ community.  

Finally, Mr Matt Inbush and Ms Ruth Thomas from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) engaged young farmers in a conversation about the challenges and opportunities of nature-positive agriculture. 

The next Gymnasium session focusing on students’ soft skills development will take place on April 13.  

The WFO Gymnasium Program, which was launched in 2017 in collaboration with Bayer, has already trained and empowered 46 active young farmers around the globe and provided them with more than 50 high-level advocacy opportunities at international conferences to effectively elevate the voices of global farmers into key policy-making arenas.