A recent paper “Considering the Energy, Water, and Food Nexus: Towards an Integrated Modelling Approach” has just been published by Morgan Bazilian, Holger Rogner et al.
In the paper, the authors argue that the areas of energy, water and food policy are interlinked, and have shared concerns ranging from environmental impacts to price volatility.
The Water-Food-Energy nexus, a term developed by the World Economic Forum in its Global Risks 2011 series, refers to the risks of water security, food security and energy security. Population growth and rising economic prosperity are expected to increase demand for energy, food and water, which in turn puts pressure on natural resources. This, combined with global governance failures, economic disparity and geopolitical conflict, could result in food shortages, struggles over water and hamper economic development. The three issues are deeply linked – food production requires water, water extraction and distribution require energy, which in turn requires water, and food prices depend on energy inputs. Climate change and growing populations also exacerbate this nexus.
The authors claim that identifying the interrelationships between these three areas is of great importance to help avoid potential tensions, and that ‘systems thinking’ – the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole – is required to address such a wide range of possible topics.
The paper states that while environmental issues are the core link between all three areas, other factors suggest that economic and security-related issues may be stronger motivators of change. The authors conclude that understanding of the complex interactions between the areas of energy, water and food will require new institutional capacity both in industrialised and developing countries.
The Farming First coalition advocates a six-point action plan for enhancing sustainable development through agriculture. In line with these six principles, Farming First encourages stakeholders to pursue policies that achieve long-term global sustainability goals through proven techniques, including specific actions in the area of water use and management, and around food security.
These principles are:
1. Safeguard natural resources
2. Share knowledge
3. Build local access and capacity
4. Protect harvests
5. Enable access to markets
6. Prioritise research imperatives