Optimising the water we eat—rethinking policy to enhance productive and sustainable use of water in agri-food systems across scales

Elsevier, The Lancet Planetary Health, Volume 6, January 2022
Uhlenbrook S., Yu W., Schmitter P., Smith D.M.

Sustainable and resilient food systems depend on sustainable and resilient water management. Resilience is characterised by overlapping decision spaces and scales and interdependencies among water users and competing sectors. Increasing water scarcity, due to climate change and other environmental and societal changes, makes putting caps on the consumption of water resources indispensable. Implementation requires an understanding of different domains, actors, and their objectives, and drivers and barriers to transformational change. We suggest a scale-specific approach, in which agricultural water use is embedded in a larger systems approach (including natural and human systems). This approach is the basis for policy coherence and the design of effective incentive schemes to change agricultural water use behaviour and, therefore, optimise the water we eat.