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Publication | 14 December 2020

The right to water for food and agriculture

Global Food and Nutrition Security

The right to water emerged in the Noughties primarily as the right to domestic water for drinking, washing and cooking, and was closely related to the right to sanitation, both of which are seen as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.

This study examines the question of the right to water for food and agriculture and asks whether such a right can be found in the right to water, or whether it is more appropriate to examine the right to adequate food for that purpose. Seeking inspiration from the right to adequate food and from other fields of international law, the study explores the content of the right to water for food and agriculture and then considers its implications for water law. Recognizing a human right to water – for drinking and household needs as well as for growing food – has implications for water allocation and sets limits to the extent that water can be allocated for other uses. In addition, it entails the respect for procedural rights and attention to important principles, such as the principle of non-discrimination and the rights of indigenous peoples.