WFP and UNEP sign agreement to boost food and water security

8 May 2023 by The Water Diplomat

On the 5th of May, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) signed an agreement designed to strengthen cooperation on water and food security. The agreement was signed by Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of WFP, and Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP.  Specifically, the two organisations will expand collaboration on topics such as climate change adaptation, nature friendly food systems, water resources management and ecosystems restoration.

At the event, Cindy McCain stated: “Food and water go hand in hand: we urgently need to restore our ecosystems and scale up climate adaptation programs to ensure future generations have the basic resources needed to grow enough food ... [..] ... WFP’s global footprint and operational scale, combined with UNEP’s world-class scientific expertise, will help governments, communities, and families on the frontlines of the climate crisis better protect themselves. Our partnership will reduce humanitarian needs and support long-term solutions to hunger.”

Inger Andersen stated: “If we work more closely together, we can create real, meaningful impact. We can enhance climate mitigation and adaptation. We can support vulnerable populations to address nature-induced conflicts and natural disasters. We can maintain healthy, productive, and resilient ecosystems. We can deliver on both our mandates and reduce the vicious cycle of humanitarian and environmental crises,”

In an earlier statement, Inger Andersen had highlighted the effects of climate change on food production, whether in the form of droughts as int eh case of the Horn of Africa, or in the case of floods in low lying delta’s as a result of sea level rise and greater intensity of storms. In 2019, she stated, of the 33 million people internally displaced, climate change was a factor in the displacement of over 70 per cent of cases. Looking forward, some estimates indicate that by 2050, climate change could internally displace 216 million people.  This, she said, is also related to water challenges: by 2050 an estimated 6 billion people will face regular water scarcity due to climate change, pollution, and increasingly unsustainable levels of production and consumption.

Therefore, she argued, WFP and UNEP should work together on resilience and adaptation through investments in nature-based solutions and early warning systems. A second area for collaboration is nature-positive, climate friendly food systems. And thirdly, she proposed collaboration on water resources management.