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Elevating the role of water resilience in food system dialogues

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Nathanial Matthews, James Dalton, John Matthews, Holly Barclay, Jennie Barron, Dustin Garrick, Line Gordon, Saleemul Huq, Tom Isman, Peter McCornick, Alqayam Meghji, Naho Mirumachi, Shehnaaz Moose, Mark Mulligan, Andrew Noble, Olga Petryniak, Jamie Pittock, Cibele Queiroz, Claudia Ringler, Mark Smith & 3 more Caroline Turner, Shuchi Vora, Louise Whiting

Original languageEnglish
Article number100126
JournalWater Security
Early online date26 Oct 2022
Accepted/In press17 Oct 2022
E-pub ahead of print26 Oct 2022
PublishedDec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Thank you to all contributors who gave initial inputs to the statement to UNFSS conference in September 2021. These include: Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, Asian Development Bank, Climate and Development Knowledge Network, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, FAO, Fenner School of Environment and Society, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, International Food Policy Research Institute, IUCN, Global Resilience Partnership, International Water Management Institute, the King's Water hub (now King's Water Centre), Mercy Corps, Monash University Malaysia, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, The Nature Conservancy. Claudia Ringler's time was supported by the NEXUS Gains initiative. A special thanks to Andrew Noble for his outstanding contributions to the paper and his fantastic efforts in coordinating the group. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s)


King's Authors


Ensuring resilient food systems and sustainable healthy diets for all requires much higher water use, however, water resources are finite, geographically dispersed, volatile under climate change, and required for other vital functions including ecosystems and the services they provide. Good governance for resilient water resources is a necessary precursor to deciding on solutions, sourcing finance, and delivering infrastructure. Six attributes that together provide a foundation for good governance to reduce future water risks to food systems are proposed. These attributes dovetail in their dual focus on incorporating adaptive learning and new knowledge, and adopting the types of governance systems required for water resilient food systems. The attributes are also founded in the need to greater recognise the role natural, healthy ecosystems play in food systems. The attributes are listed below and are grounded in scientific evidence and the diverse collective experience and expertise of stakeholders working across the science-policy interface: Adopting interconnected systems thinking that embraces the complexity of how we produce, distribute, and add value to food including harnessing the experience and expertise of stakeholders s; adopting multi-level inclusive governance and supporting inclusive participation; enabling continual innovation, new knowledge and learning, and information dissemination; incorporating diversity and redundancy for resilience to shocks; ensuring system preparedness to shocks; and planning for the long term. This will require food and water systems to pro-actively work together toward a socially and environmentally just space that considers the water and food needs of people, the ecosystems that underpin our food systems, and broader energy and equity concerns.

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