UK Water Partnership’s Food, farming and water event highlights need for a collaborative approach

workshop expectationsA lively video featuring a Suffolk farmer experiencing water stress , Sainsbury’s Director of Brand Judith Batchelar discussing water usage in Kenyan bean production, and a catchment liaison officer from Scottish Water working with farmers on water quality issues, kicked off the highly successful UK Water Partnership’s ‘Sustainable Food, Farming and Water’ workshop on 10 March 2016.

A diverse audience of around 120 people from industry, government, civil society organisations and the research community attended this NERC-sponsored event, which explored recommendations made by Global Food Security champion Professor Tim Benton’s-led UKWP reports on water and farming.
Keynote speaker Sarah Hendry, Director of Floods & Water, Defra, said:

‘It was a really invigorating event: lots of people pooling their insights and perspectives on the relationship between food and farming and water.  I was particularly inspired by the practical examples of projects that are finding inventive ways to make water use and management more sustainable.  The workshop was a great example of how the UK Water Partnership can add value by bringing people together to drive innovation, with benefits for the environment and the economy.’

Five break-out sessions explored the following goals: improved water security through better planning and practical action; improved integrated modelling; enhanced agri-water knowledge exchange; empowering farmers, and increased water resilience in the global supply chain.

Melvyn Kay, Executive Secretary, UK Irrigation Association Ltd., said:

‘The workshop was informative, enjoyable and great for networking. One take home message was the need for better translation and communication if water utilities are to talk to farmers more: for example utilities talk in ‘megalitres’ whereas farmers use ‘gallons’.

Paul Hammett, NFU national water resources specialist, said:

‘I welcomed recognition that we need to improve farm profitability as well as farm productivity; we need to find a way to allocate a fair share of water to farmers so they can invest with confidence in growing the food we expect them to deliver.’

Tony Rachwal, Director of the UK Water Partnership said:

‘This event was very successful in bringing together the key players involved in food, water and farming. What struck me was the collaborative approach needed between farmers and the water sector to tackle these issues, such as to address flood alleviation and storage of water to prepare for future droughts and how to actively manage underground aquifers to store and recover water under farmland in the South and East of the UK. The UK Water Partnership’s Water and Agriculture action group will catalyse action on some of these identified needs in the coming year.’

The video of the event is available here and pdfs of the presentations here. A final event report is available here.


For further information about the event and the Partnership’s Water and Farming action group, please contact:

Dr Weihao Zhong

Secretariat, Research & Innovation Group, The UK Water Partnership

Natural Envrionment Research Council

Email: weizho(at)

Lord Maude endorses the UK Water Partnership

Francis Maude

Speaking at the World Water-Tech Investment Summit in London on Tuesday 23rd February 2016, Lord Maude, Minister of State for Trade & Investment said, “Last year the UK Water Partnership was launched to bring together expertise across industry, policy makers and the research community.

The Partnership will enable the UK to respond more effectively to the challenges of global water security and the need for resilience in a changing environment,” he added.

Tony Rachwal, Director, the UK Water Partnership said, “The Partnership will help catalyse the translation of the UK’s wealth of leading environmental, social and physical science into practical and commercial outcomes.”

Mark Lane, Director, the UK Water Partnership added, “The UK has world-class expertise across the water technology sector and a key priority for the UK Water Partnership is to grow our share of the global water market, estimated to be $50 billion by 2020,” he said.

“The UK Water Partnership is a relatively young organisation, so recognition at ministerial level is a significant endorsement of the role that we are now playing in helping to establish the UK as an innovative powerhouse in the global water technology sector,” he confirmed.

India-UK Water Security Exchange delivers increased co-operation and new partnership opportunities for the UK water industry

A week-long visit to the UK by an Indian delegation of senior civil servants and research leaders with responsibility for the water sector has achieved its objective to develop knowledge-sharing links with key UK policymakers, regulators, researchers and water industry specialists.

A top priority for India is to harness international capabilities across water science, management and policy so that it can apply this knowledge to hasten the clean-up of its own rivers, in particular the River Ganga, through the ‘National Mission for Clean Ganga’ strategy.

With pre-existing parallel administrative and legal systems to the UK, the opportunities for India-UK collaborations to build water research, regulation and environmental protection capabilities are considerable. Clear openings for the application of UK scientific, technical and governance expertise were identified following the various presentations, seminars and workshops.

Once implemented, the water infrastructure and regulatory improvements will help deliver improved public health through better water supply and sewage treatment. These and other improvements to the freshwater environment will deliver enhanced water security and support economic development.

Commenting on the Exchange, Mark Lane, Director, UK Water Partnership said, “This Summit was announced in a joint statement issued by Prime Minister Modi of India and David Cameron in November 2015 and the UK Water Partnership, working with partner organisations, has played an important role to catalyse the
initiative and help make it happen.

“Deliverables from the Exchange are intended to include a summary of the main issues and an action plan. The next stage will be to appoint organisations with a view to implementing the tasks in the action plan,” he added.

The visit was supported by a number of organisations, including the British High Commission in New Delhi, the Scottish Government, Costain Group and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and was run by the NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).

Dr Harry Dixon from CEH said, “The UK is a recognised global leader in water with advanced capabilities in hydrological science, water innovation and the implementation of environmental and economic regulation. The links developed through this initiative will help UK organisations and companies build collaborations which will be beneficial to both the UK and India.”

Further information about the visit, including photos and presentations from the week can be found at:


For further information about the UK Water Partnership, please contact:

Alexa Bruce, Secretariat, The UK Water partnership

Email: [email protected]