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World Irrigation Forum Highlights Agriculture and Water Linkages

worldirrigationforum10 October 2013: Agricultural water management stakeholders, including smallholder farmers, discussed food insecurity challenges at the First World Irrigation Forum (WIF), which took place in Mardin, Turkey. The Forum focused on water challenges affecting the agricultural sector, with the aim of discussing agricultural concerns not traditionally emphasized in other fora, such as the World Water Forums (WWFs).

The Forum was organized around the theme ‘Irrigation and Drainage in a Changing World: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Security' and three sub-themes. The sub-theme on ‘Policy, Science and Society Interactions' considered, inter alia, innovative drainage and irrigation services and interactions among stakeholders. The sub-theme on ‘Challenges and Developments in Financing Irrigation and Drainage Sector' addressed the roles of water users, governments and the private sector in developing drainage and irrigation, financing construction, rehabilitation and modernization of irrigation infrastructure and partnerships. The sub-theme on ‘Integrated Water Management Approaches for Sustainable Food Production' discussed the water-food-energy nexus, water sharing challenges among sectors, given climate change and population growth; and environmental sustainability in drainage and irrigation. The Forum also highlighted irrigation management as a tool to mitigate climate variability impacts.

Participants convened in a range of sessions, including thematic sessions, roundtables, panel discussions, trainings on implementing innovations, and films showcasing projects and technologies. In a keynote address titled ‘Financing for Irrigation and Drainage,' Uma Lele, Global Water Partnership (GWP) Technical Committee member, recommended, inter alia: increasing water use efficiency and productivity to intensify agriculture and meet global food demand; modernizing surface irrigation; and developing national capacity to address complexity.

Over 700 participants from 62 countries attended the Forum, which took place from 29 September to 5 October 2013. The International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) organized the Forum in collaboration with various sponsors and partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE), the GWP, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. The WIF will be held triennially, with WIF 2 scheduled to take place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2016. [WIF Website] [WIF Programme] [GWP Press Release] [GWP Presentations]