From March 22 to 24, a WFO delegation led by the Board Member for the North America Constituency, Ms Mary Robinson, participated in the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York to make sure that farmers’ needs and expectations are put high on the Water Action Agenda

Convened by the UN General Assembly forty-six years after the last UN Water Conference, the 2023 International Meeting, co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Tajikistan, was intended as a watershed moment, bringing stakeholders from all sectors together to create a global momentum for accelerated implementation and improved impact to advance the broad challenges surrounding water.

The 2023 UN Water Conference represented an opportunity to create new connections and strengthen cooperation

The ultimate goal is accelerating progress in the second half of the Water Action Decade 2018-2028 and the second half of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Conference explored five aspects of the global debate on water:

  1. Water for Health
  2. Water for Sustainable Development
  3. Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment
  4. Water for Cooperation
  5. Water Action Decade.

The WFO delegation in New York, has been involved in several events and debates, to ensure farmers’ vision and expectations are taken into account in the outcomes of the Conference.

The delegation was composed of: WFO Board Member and former President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Ms Mary Robinson; Mr Richard York, CEO of Wildlife Ranching South Africa and Facilitator of the WFO Working Group on Nature and Biodiversity; Ms Fiona Simson, President of the National Farmers Federation (Australia); Ms Tamisha Lee, President of the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers; Mr Robert Larew, President of the National Farmers Union (USA) and Dr Kouassi Sébastino Da Costa from ANASEMCI.

Addressing the very diverse audience attending the Conference, they shared their own farming experience, highlighting the role of farmers as stewards of natural resources, conserving water while reducing soil erosion with the help of innovative water harvesting and circular irrigation.

With agriculture being extremely vulnerable to climate change, the WFO delegation emphasized the importance of farmer-driven solutions: farmers are already adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change on their farms by developing new strategies for efficient and productive water use while acting on the root causes by helping carbon storage in plants and soils.

The WFO representatives also stressed the importance of enabling farmers’ access to the latest technologies to create more efficient on-farm water management and make agricultural land more resilient to increasingly frequent flooding and droughts. Greater empowerment of farmers and investment in climate-smart water management techniques and other innovative solutions will enable farmers to protect their livelihoods and produce good food for all.

WFO Special Event: “Radical Collaboration for Water Resilience Action”

On Wednesday 22, the World Farmers’ Organisation co-hosted an informal Special Event titled: “Radical Collaboration for Water Resilience Action”.

Jointly organised with CEO Water Mandate / United Nations Global Compact, WWF International, Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group (IPMG), Wetlands International (WI), Women’s MG (WMG), International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), the special event showcased how new collaboration models can unlock and achieve basin resiliency to benefit communities, ecosystems, and economies. It dived into the critical elements of collaborations at the basin scale that have a real impact.

Throughout the three-hour event, the principles of INSPIRE, COLLABORATE, AND ENABLE have been woven through interactions with all participants.

Ms Mary Robinson and Mr Robert Larew represented the global farmers’ perspective in the discussions.
Ms Robinson started her speech by emphasizing that “when we talk about Agriculture, it is important to realize how enormous it is and how many new answers are within agriculture when we look at regions, commodities, different growing seasons and challenges that climate change brings to us”. She added that worldwide, farmers need to be sustainable, and they need sustainable returns on their investments to keep farming and producing good food for all.
“Every farmer that I know aspires to improve soil and water quality.
These are essential components of farming”, she underlined.

Mr Larew stressed that “there must be greater cooperation between farmers and community stakeholders to ensure that all voices are heard and understood as it relates to protecting water resources”, because “when policy, programs, and collaborations with public and private interests include the voices of farmers, real solutions are created”.

In conclusion, as noted in the opening plenary by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres “From the food we eat… to the economic engine of agriculture… water is the common development denominator to shape a better future.”
By participating to the Water Conference, the WFO remarked that farmers are ready to work with all other stakeholders, listen to their perspectives, exchange their experiences and identify together pathways to solutions.