Water in Sustainable Agriculture Standards

13th January 2021
Author: Rachel Cooper

This review synthesises evidence on water in sustainable agriculture standards. Sustainable agricultural standards, hereafter standards, is a broad term encompassing certification schemes, tools, and programmes. The International Trade Centre’s Sustainability Standards Map includes 166 agricultural standards . However, there is a smaller number of prominent standards that are popularly used by major retailers or for particular commodities. Two studies looking at how water is considered in standards selected smaller numbers: Morgan (2017) benchmarks 25 popular use conventional agricultural standards and organic standards, whilst Vos & Boelens (2014) selected eight prominent standards for their analysis. The evidence base for this request was limited. Whilst water is included in individual standards, there is limited research on the efficacy or impact of standards on water issues. This review identified an extremely small number of studies that either assessed or benchmarked standards’ water related requirements or the impacts of certification and water requirements on water resources.

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Suggested Citation

Cooper, R. (2021). Water in sustainable agriculture standards. K4D Helpdesk Report 966. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2021.037


13th January 2021


Continent: Global