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Investing in agricultural water management: Pathways to a sustainable future

Researchers point to trends in agricultural water investment to guide international financing institutions and international development agencies in their decision-making when considering how to direct their resources.

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Huber-Lee, A., Kemp-Benedict, E., Ghosh, E., Nazareth, A. and Oudra, I. (2021). Investing in agricultural water management: Pathways to a sustainable future. FAO, Rome.

This investment brief identifies innovations and opportunities for investing in sustainable agricultural water management in the coming decade, recognizing how such investments connect to ecosystems.

The brief’s five key findings are based on a larger study on investments in agricultural water management and irrigation and drainage infrastructure
made by international financing institutions (IFIs) from
2010 to 2019.

IFIs play a critical role in demonstrating principles for responsible agricultural investment as identified by the Committee on Food Security. Half of those principles call for empowerment, inclusion, or respect for farmers’ unique knowledge. IFIs can promote broader societal goals, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure that broader cultural and ecological goals are not compromised.

This paper identifies trends and disruptors in agricultural water management so that IFIs can make sound investments that foster equity and solutions to climate change.

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Open access

SEI authors

Profile picture of Annette Huber-Lee
Annette Huber-Lee

Senior Scientist


Eric Kemp-Benedict
Eric Kemp-Benedict

SEI Affiliated Researcher


2018 portrait of Emily Ghosh
Emily Ghosh



Anisha Nazareth
Anisha Nazareth

Associate Scientist


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