Address by H E Harinder Sidhu, High Commissioner of Australia to India
to Policy Research Workshop on the Food-Energy-Water Nexus in the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP)
2 September 2016
Good morning delegates.
I’m delighted to be with you this morning, to open this workshop on policy research and engagement in The Food–Energy–Water nexus.
As you may also be aware, the FAO in its 2014 report on the Food-Energy-Water nexus described that the world’s biggest challenge by the year 2050, will be to grow food for 9 billion people in a sustainable manner. With current practices, this will require a 50 per cent increase in food production, 55 per cent more water and 40 per cent more energy. Agriculture uses 70 per cent of the world’s surface and groundwater resources and a third of the planet’s land.
Nowhere in the world will this challenge be more acute than in India and South Asia – a region that is home to almost 600 million (or 44 per cent) of the world’s poor. An added dimension will be the impacts of climate change, with South Asia expected to face increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, to the effects of which the poor, particularly women and girls, are most vulnerable.
We need a collaborative effort to find solutions. I feel that robust policies, their implementation, partnerships between scientists and policy makers, engaging the private sector and innovations are critical to ensure food security and small farmer livelihoods.
While Australia and India have markedly different rural structures, we also share many of the same natural resource management challenges, and a common need to manage our natural resources well. Both countries are significant food producing countries. We both also endure the regular cycles of drought and flood.
Leveraging these differences and commonalities has been the basis the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) engagement with Indian agencies over the last three decades. It has built enduring partnerships with researchers and policy- makers in the agricultural sector. The research for development has produced significant benefits for both our countries especially agriculture and water productivity.
In parallel to ACIAR’s work, for the last decade Australia and India have also enjoyed an expanding relationship on water resource management, underpinned by an MoU and a number of Ministerial and Prime Ministerial commitments.
This workshop today brings together and represents a real maturing of these two relationships. The Australian Government and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is pleased to be able support India through technical assistance through SDIP to facilitate collaborative research to remove barriers to adoption of new technologies which improve water use efficiency and farm profitability.
More than this however, I am pleased to see that it also brings together, policy makers, researchers, and practitioners. And further again not just from India but also the region from Nepal and Bangladesh.
Having worked at the intersection of climate change policy and research for some time I know the challenges that this can bring but also the real value that dialogue and bring.
This is particularly the case for the researchers themselves. If research is to be relevant it needs to understand the policy, and be cognisant of the in-field realities.
So, I encourage you all to engage in the real spirit of collaboration. Agricultural people seek to better understand issues from a water management perspective. Also I encourage you to in particular consider things from a gender perspective.
I would like to encourage you to use this forum to build the dialogue between policy and research and design a framework which addresses the needs of the countries in South Asia.