event 04 May 2018

WASAG // The Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

WASAG has been designed to bring together key players across the globe and across sectors to tackle the collective challenge of using water better in agriculture to ensure food security for all. It is an initiative for partners from all fields and backgrounds to collaborate in supporting countries and stakeholders in their commitments and plans related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement (including implementing nationally determined contributions) and other plans and programmes related to agriculture and water.

Logo fao


If soil is the body of agriculture, then water is its lifeblood. However, we are going to have to get used there not being enough to go around if we continue to pursue current development pathways in agriculture and elsewhere.

Water use expanded at over double the rate of population growth in the twentieth century. The population is predicted to grow further by 2 billion to 9.3 billion in 2050. Combined with changing diets, we will need to produce almost 50 per cent more food to meet demand. This means the available pool of water faces greater stress. At the same time, climate change is predicted to have a massive impact on water availability by drastically altering hydrological regimes across the globe.

We need to find smarter, more efficient ways to use water, and make agriculture more productive, to meet the rising demand for food and achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s goal on zero hunger. And we need to do this while preserving the natural resource base and the integrity of ecosystems. This is where the WASAG Framework – launched by FAO and partners at the climate meeting in Marrakech in late 2016 – comes in.

Vision, Mission, Objectives and Guiding Principles

The vision, mission and objectives of the Global Framework are as follows:

Vision: a world whose food systems are secure and resilient to increasing water scarcity in a changing climate.

Mission: to support measurable, significant and sustainable progress on improving and adapting agricultural systems in conditions of increasing water scarcity and a changing climate, using the combined expertise and resources of the Partners.

Objectives: to urgently address the following important and relevant work areas at international and country levels:

  • Advocating for political prioritisation.
  • Cooperating on work programmes.
  • Sharing and disseminating knowledge and experience.
  • Developing new or improved solutions.
  • Promoting sustainable and integrated water resources management.
  • Building capacity of Partners and countries and other Stakeholders.
  • Contributing to consistent monitoring systems.

The guiding principles of the Global Framework are:

  • Partners and other Stakeholders work towards a common goal, with success determined by the commitment of each one.
  • Dialogue is facilitated across a broad range of actors and sectors, and diverse parties are aligned around the common vision.
  • Partners and other Stakeholders realize mutual benefits from the process through win-win agreements and, in so doing, learn from each other.
  • Equity and inclusiveness are assured for all Partners.
  • Transparency and accountability are ensured through agreement on leadership mechanisms, including participation in decision-making, and modalities for cooperation.

Nature of the Global Framework

The Global Framework is not an autonomous legal entity but, rather, a flexible, light and consensual coordination mechanism, supported by the FAO. The Global Framework is an open platform for Partners to voluntarily collaborate and coordinate their activities in support of the achievement of the vision, mission and objectives laid out above, linking participants by their shared commitment to intensify their efforts to address water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate.


The Global Framework is open to a broad range of entities, such as States, international organizations, civil society organisations, academia, private sector entities and trade associations.

Entities wishing to become Partners of the Global Framework must adhere to the vision, mission, objectives and guiding principles of the Global Framework, as well as to the Rome Statement. Participation of non-State, including private sector, entities is subject to the requirements laid down in the Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Community* and the FAO policies and guidelines for collaboration with the private sector, academia and the civil society**.

Consequently, prospective private sector, academia and civil society partners will be subject to the FAO mechanisms for assessing adherence to those Guidelines***.

The Partners meet at least every two years to agree on priorities, general objectives, plans and proposals for the activities of the Global Framework.

The Partners plan, budget, provide their own resources for, and implement their own activities on agricultural systems under increasing water scarcity in a changing climate under their own responsibility. Under the umbrella of the Global Framework, they seek to cooperate and coordinate such activities. In this context, they may decide to temporarily organize themselves in national, regional or thematic groups and networks to coordinate activities under their own programmes or jointly develop plans for activities to come under the Global Framework. As such, Partners may propose, individually or collectively, at the Partners’ Meeting or through a Steering Committee, to place ongoing or future self-funded activities on agricultural systems under increasing water scarcity in a changing climate to be placed under the umbrella of the Global Framework. The Partners may also, subject to the availability of resources and the approval of the Steering Committee, receive funding or other support for the implementation of activities under the Global Framework. In all cases, the placement of an activity under the umbrella of the Global Framework and the allocation of funding received by the Global Framework for such activities require the collective endorsement of the Partners.

Other Stakeholders

Other Stakeholders are entities which are not Partners, but who express an interest in the work of the Global Framework and wish to contribute to its success. Similarly to Partners, they adhere to the vision, mission, objectives and guiding principles of the Global Framework, as well as to the Rome Statement, and are subject to the same assessment process by the Steering Committee and the FAO as Partners. Other Stakeholders may participate in the Partners’ Meetings and be invited to Steering Committee meetings without taking part in the decision-making process.

Mechanisms for coordination

In order to achieve its mission and objectives, a variety of modalities exist for the exchange of views, planning and prioritisation of activities, and coordination. The main platform is the Partners’ Meeting, which takes place at least every two years. The website of the Global Framework hosted by the FAO is also an important tool to keep Partners and other Stakeholders informed of activities during the period between the Partners’ Meetings. The purpose and methods of work of the Partners’ Meetings are described in the annex on operational mechanisms.

A Steering Committee supports the implementation of activities towards the achievement of the objectives and priorities agreed upon by the Partners. It ensures continuity of activities and monitors progress made on planned activities during the period between the Partners’ Meetings. This is a representative group, selected by the Partners. The Steering Committee keeps the Partners informed and can make recommendations to the Partners. The composition, purpose and working methods of the Steering Committee are described in the annex.

Role of the FAO

The FAO, under its mandate and institutional framework, and within its programme of work and budget, provides operational and administrative support to the Global Framework, including technical support and advocacy. Accordingly, the day-to-day activities supporting the Global Framework are undertaken in line with the FAO’s rules, procedures and policies.

In light of its primary role in the establishment of the Global Framework and its day-to-day functioning, the FAO is a permanent Partner of the Global Framework and a permanent Member of the Steering Committee.

Financial arrangements

Consistent with its nature as a voluntary, collaborative platform with the primary objective of strengthening the coordination of the efforts of the Partners, there is no mandatory requirement upon any Partner to make a financial contribution to support the activities of the Global Framework.

Participation in the Global Framework, including attendance at any meetings related to the Global Framework, is at each Partner’s own cost.

The costs of all activities of the Partners in relation to the Global Framework are to be met from their own resources, except for specific activities to be funded under the Global Framework, as approved by the Steering Committee and endorsed by the Partners collectively.

Any funds made available to the Global Framework will be administered in accordance with the Financial Regulations, rules and procedures of the FAO. They shall be exclusively dedicated to substantive activities, except as otherwise provided in the present Terms of Reference.

Key Documents

Stay up to date!

We inform you about current projects, events, actions, publications and news!