Water systems science in One CGIAR

“CGIAR’s new ambitions are defined by new impact areas, with water at the heart of each…”

One CGIAR will focus on innovations from genetics to entire food production systems, and on policies and strategies to transform trajectories for sustainable development. And critically, innovations that can be deployed faster, at a larger scale, and with greater impact, where they are needed the most. CGIAR and its partners will deliver ways to grow, catch, trade, and consume healthy and nutritious food. But also the means to manage landscapes and water systems that are inclusive, more equal and resilient. Ultimately a unified CGIAR will help the world to live within planetary boundaries, stop the loss of biodiversity and maintain a safe climate. CGIAR’s new ambitions are defined by a set of impact areas, with water – and therefore water systems science – at the heart of each.

Nutrition, Health & Food SecurityPoverty Reduction, Livelihoods & JobsGender Equality, Youth & Social InclusionClimate Adaptation & MitigationEnvironmental health & Biodiversity
IWMI’s policy and technical innovations promote a food and water secure future. Our work not only improves irrigation and allows farmers to grow a more nutritionally diverse set of crops. But, better water resources management also encourage more equitable access to sanitation and hygiene, critical for public health systems. Our projects span farmer-led irrigation, where smallholders invest in wells and pumps to take control of irrigating their crops, to the use of satellite data to map water resources at the regional level.
Livelihoods improve when water becomes more accessible. At a basic level, more water can mean improved agricultural irrigation, leading to increased income generated from smallholdings. And having access to clean water can result in less time spent travelling to pumps and wells, and more time spent in education or work. Much of IWMI’s work aims at poverty reduction, whether that’s helping to reduce floods and thus damage to crops and property or increasing accessibility to sustainable aquifers.
IWMI’s research shows that access to water can significantly affect the dynamics of growth and a country’s overall economic development. Real progress cannot be achieved if water investments, innovations and interventions do not respond to the complexities of inequality and social inclusion. It is these inequalities around who has the power to participate in, and make decisions over resource allocation and management, which can determine the winners and losers under conditions of climate change – especially during extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. Gender equality and inclusion are key to sustainable and equitable systems-level solutions. All voices and opinion should be counted for a project to take root and grow, no matter their gender, caste or age.
It is largely through water that most people will ‘experience’ climate change: unpredictable rain, droughts and floods, and the disruption this will bring to our food systems and drinking water supplies. IWMI’s research addresses ways to maximize water productivity. This means developing more accurate rainfall predictions to support drought and flood warning systems; promoting ‘climate-smart’ agricultural technologies; increasing water storage, and circular resource and waste systems and water resources modelling, monitoring and scenario planning so we know who and where is using how much water. It also means addressing how watersheds, wetlands and mangroves can provide nature-based solutions to moderate climate extremes and increase resilience to climate change.
IWMI’s goal is to develop a sustainable approach to water infrastructure that supports economic development and human well-being, and safeguards ecosystem services. We work to combine the best aspects of natural and manufactured water infrastructure to support sustainable, resilient and inclusive development. To best support environmental health and biodiversity, we work closely with regional and subregional organizations, river basin organizations, government agencies and investors to influence policy and practices around water management and to ensure that women, young people and other marginal groups are included in infrastructure planning and management at national and local scales.

Water in One CGIAR Impact Areas

To deliver science and innovation that advance the transformation of food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis.