Agriculture is expected to face increasing water risks that will impact production, markets, trade and food security - risks that can be mitigated with targeted policy actions on water hotspots. A global simulation shows that, in the absence of action, water risks in Northeast China (People’s Republic of), Northwest India and the Southwest United States in particular could have significant agriculture production, price and trade consequences. Agriculture water risks could also result in broader socio-economic and food security concerns. Farmers, agro food companies, and governments can all play a role in responding to water risks in vulnerable regions.
This report develops a hotspot approach and proposes a three-tier policy action plan to confront water risk hotspots, encompassing targeted responses, adapted national policies, strengthened market integration and international collaboration.
As a natural reserve relatively resilient to climate variability, groundwater has provided large benefits to irrigated agriculture in semi-arid OECD countries. It has supported the development and expanded production of commodity crops in the US Midwest and Mexico and high value products in semi-arid areas of Mediterranean Europe or the Middle East. But intensive use beyond recharge capacity in certain regions has depleted resources and increasingly generates significant negative environmental externalities, including stream depletion, saline intrusion and land subsidence.
The report provides a characterisation of the diversity of groundwater systems, reviews policies in OECD countries and proposes a package of recommendations to ensure that groundwater can sustain its services to agriculture and contribute to climate change adaptation.
The policy note “Tackling the challenges of agriculture groundwater use” summarises the findings of the report.