Saline Water and Food Systems

Salinisation is rapidly becoming one of the biggest challenges for food production worldwide. Salt-affected soils occur naturally, for example in (semi)arid areas with limited precipitation. But also along coastal regions and in deltas, salinity intrusion via tidal dynamics and sea level rise increasingly impacts agricultural production. Salinity severely impacts crop development and growth, threatening food security, biodiversity and livelihoods of millions of people in various parts of the world. For this reason, the Netherlands Food Partnership (NFP) and Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) set up a partnership on ‘Saline Water & Food Systems’ (SW & FS) with the objective to strengthen cooperation between the Dutch water and agrifood sectors to address the challenge of salinity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The partnership consists of knowledge institutes, a broad variety of the business community including innovative SMEs, and locally operating experts. It is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.


The overall goal of the partnership is to strengthen the cooperation of the Dutch Saline Water and Food Systems sector in the international context to address the challenge of salinity.

Responses to salinity depend on the local context and can range from mitigating (e.g. salinity intrusion prevention) to adaptive actions (e.g. salt-tolerant crops). The Netherlands has a solid and promising position in both areas, largely based on interventions implemented in the coastal zone of the country. In addition, the Netherlands is internationally known for its integrated perspective on water management and its sustainable food systems approach. It is important to have a good understanding of the issue locally and address salinity in an integrated and systematic way.

The ambition is to create more impact by initiating new research or collaboration activities, that result in implementation projects in LMICs, to achieving SDG2 and SDG6.


Before profiling abroad and becoming more successful, the collaboration in the Netherlands itself should be well organized. The SW&FS Partnership will primarily stimulate collaboration between Dutch partners with an international focus on salinity, and will strategically align with new initiatives with a focus on the Netherlands, and liaise with international partners. The partnership, facilitated by NFP and NWP, will work on a number of activities:

  • Stimulating coordination and cooperation between Dutch organisations at the interface of water and agriculture by means of linking networks, organisations and persons working on salinity;
  • Develop a joint and coherent vision on dealing with salinity. Such a joint vision and clear approach towards research, innovation, pilots and feasible scaling, would support the profiling and implementation of programs in emerging economies and developing countries;
  • Knowledge and information sharing (project examples, overview of measures to address salinity) through meetings and online platforms;
  • Informing and influencing the international policy and research agendas;
  • Initiating and supporting new research, implementation or collaboration activities. NFP and NWP can support partners by investing time and/or making a small financial contribution available (‘seed money’).


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Babette Bodlaender
Coalition Builder