Natural Resources Conservation & Management


Natural resources, especially water and soil, are essential for the function and structure of agricultural production systems and for the overall social and environmental sustainability.

Agriculture accounts for roughly 70% of total freshwater withdrawals globally. Farming also contributes to water pollution from nutrient and pesticide run-off and soil erosion. Without improved efficiency measures, agricultural water consumption is expected to rise by about 20% globally by 2050. Climate change is already affecting water supply and agriculture through changes in the seasonal timing of rainfall and snow pack melt, as well as with higher occurrence and severity of droughts and floods.

One-third of the planet’s land is severely degraded and fertile soil is being lost at the rate of 24 billion tonnes a year as a consequence of bad farming practices, such as heavy tilling, multiple sequential harvests and abundant use of agrochemicals.

An increase of productivity can help push progress towards future food security and the general wellbeing of producers and rural communities globally, but given the limited natural resource base on which agriculture depend, sustainable development will ultimately depend on the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources.

SAN proposes a series of good practices to help reduce agriculture’s pressure on natural resources, and build more efficient and resilient production systems.

Impact delivering

Our approach to a sustainable use of natural resources, includes practices that:

  • Encourage the protection and restoration of water sources, and promote water use optimization.
  • Require the implementation of systems for wastewater treatment before reuse or disposal.
  • Foster soil conservation and improved carbon stocks.
  • Promote waste reduction, recycling and responsible disposal.