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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The role of water in transforming food systems

Ringler, Claudia; Agbonlahor, Mure; Barron, Jennie; Baye, Kaleab; Meenakshi, J. V.; Mekonnen, Dawit K.; Uhlenbrook, Stefan


The United Nations Food Systems Summit aimed to chart a path toward transforming food systems toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite the essentiality of water for food systems, however, the Summit has not sufficiently considered the role of water for food systems transformation. This focus is even more important due to rapidly worsening climate change and its pervasive impacts on food systems that are mediated through water. To avoid that water "breaks" food systems, key food systems actors should 1) Strengthen efforts to retain water-dependent ecosystems, their functions and services; 2) Improve agricultural water management; 3) Reduce water and food losses beyond the farmgate; 4) Coordinate water with nutrition and health interventions; 5) Increase the environmental sustainability of food systems; 6) Explicitly address social inequities; and 7) Improve data quality and monitoring for water-food system linkages.


Food systems transformation; Water security; United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS); Nutrition; Ecosystem health

Published in

Global Food Security
2022, Volume: 33, article number: 100639
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
    SDG2 Zero hunger

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Science
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier


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