Subsidiarity, in the context of water for food and agriculture, means that responsibility and authority should always be located at the lowest possible level without overstraining the stakeholders.
Decentralisation processes which are taking place in many countries reflect this idea. Subsidiarity allows the effective use of local capacities, the creation of transparent responsibilities and decision-making structures, as well as the identification of citizens with their administration or of water users with their organisations. This identification often facilitates finding solutions for conflicts and the enforcement of sanctions.
Due to climate change-induced droughts and floods, a higher frequency of conflicts due to water use (rights) is expected. In this context, subsidiarity may become a more and more important element in measures to solve and prevent these conflicts.