GFFA & Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference 2017: Agriculture and Water – Key to Feeding the World

Logo Global Forum for Food and Agriculture Enlarge image (© BMEL) Berlin, 19 - 21 January 2016 - Water is life. Approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water. However, only around one percent of this water is freely available as freshwater and able to be used by mankind. 

  • Over the last 50 years, water consumption has roughly tripled. 

Increasing water scarcity is being accompanied in affected regions by increased competition over water usage, which in turn is also putting political stability and economic and social development at risk.

The sustainable use of water as a vital resource is one of the major global challenges of the 21st century. This applies in particular to agriculture: approximately 70 percent of the freshwater used worldwide is used for irrigation.

Estimates by UN suggest that the global demand for water in agriculture will increase by about 20 percent by 2050. 

  • Put simply, water is, together with soil, the most important input for agriculture. 
  • Only if agriculture has sufficient clean water it can fulfil its role as a major supplier of food and ensure food supplies for the growing world population.

In view of this global challenge, agriculture must find answers to the following questions:

  • What part can agriculture, as a large user of water, play worldwide in the sustainable stewardship of water as a valuable resource and in maintaining water quality?
  • Given the increasing competition over water usage, how can it be ensured that agriculture has access to water, and hence can provide the global population with food?
  • How can agriculture contribute its considerable potential regarding the use of water towards political processes at international level?

The Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference is the political highlight of the GFFA. It is the largest conference of agriculture ministers in the world and gives impetus to international debates at the beginning of every year.

83 states attended the Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference on the subject “Agriculture and Water – Key to Feeding the World”, as well as high-level representatives of international organisations such as the European Commission and the FAO. Together they adopted an ambitious communiqué and committed to a sustainable stewardship of water Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference 2017 Enlarge image Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference 2017 (© BMEL)

The final communiqué of the 9th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference can be downloaded here: Final communiqué [pdf, 215.45k]