To feed the world in 2050 and beyond, agricultural production needs to be intensified while maintaining vital ecosystem functions. Many believe, however, that intensification will cause unacceptable harm to the environment, perhaps even undercutting the vital ecosystem functions that support life.
The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) challenges this perspective.
WLE’s vision is of a world in which agriculture thrives alongside vibrant ecosystems, and those engaged in agriculture live in good health, enjoy food and nutritional security, and have access to the inputs and resources they need to continuously improve their livelihoods. We see a future in which the increasing numbers of urban residents, particularly in developing countries, have access to safe and affordable food and water, made possible by gains in agricultural productivity and public investments in food safety and water quality.
To achieve this vision WLE must:
- redouble our efforts to increase agricultural productivity, while protecting the environment.
- ensure that advances in agriculture do not degrade the natural resource base on which agriculture depends.
- build on past successes of the CGIAR in boosting agricultural growth through scientific inquiry and policy analysis
- conduct new research on agricultural and ecosystem interactions.
WLE has identified five strategic research portfolios:
- Irrigated farming systems
- Rainfed farming systems
- Resource recovery and reuse
- River basins
- Information systems
In addition, it has established two cross‐cutting themes that will influence and enhance its research:
- Ecosystem Services
- Institutions and Governance.
Within each portfolio WLE will promote ecosystem resilience and seek to enhance, and increase the value placed upon, ecosystem services. In doing so, it will work to provide farmers and pastoralists with production systems that are better adapted to environmental change.
River basins where WLE will work
Initial estimates suggest that at least 300 million women and men can benefit from the WLE outcomes during the next 10 to 20 years. Additionally work on resource recovery and reuse and rainfed systems may help another 200 million urban poor people. To do this, WLE will work at multiple scales and levels to achieve wide-spread impact. It will seek to influence investments in agriculture, national and regional policies as well as the decisions of land and water managers at all levels.