Water-Energy-Food Nexus

The food-energy-water nexus refers to the way that water security, energy security and food security (all vital for human well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable development) are strongly linked to one another, so the actions in any one area often have effects in one or both of the others:

Source: IWA, 2018. Sustainable Development: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus.

Here are some key facts and figures about this nexus from the UN website: https://www.unwater.org/water-facts/water-food-and-energy/

  • While almost 800 million people are currently hungry, by 2050 global food production would need to increase by 50% to feed the more than 9 billion people projected who live on our planet (FAO/IFAD/UNICEF/WFP/WHO, 2017).
  • 72% of all water withdrawals are used by agriculture, 16% by municipalities for households and services, and 12% by industries. (UN-Water 2021)
  • It typically takes between 3,000 and 5,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of rice, 2,000 litres for 1kg of soya, 900 litres for 1kg of wheat and 500 litres for 1kg of potatoes. (WWF).
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, irrigated areas are expected to more than double by 2050, benefiting millions of small-scale farmers. However, it has been estimated that 41% of current global irrigation water use occurs at the expense of environmental flow requirements. (FAO 2020)
  • The food production and supply chain accounts for about 30% of total global energy consumption. (FAO, 2011)
  • 90% of global power generation is water-intensive. (UN, 2014)
  • Power plant cooling is responsible for 43% of total freshwater withdrawals in Europe (more than 50% in several countries), nearly 50% in the USA, and more than 10% of the national water cap in China. (UN, 2014)
  • Global water demand (in water withdrawals) is projected to increase by 55% by 2050, mainly because of growing demands from manufacturing (400% increase). (OECD, 2012)

About lindsey

Environmental scientist. I am glaciologist specialising in glacier-climate interactions to better understand the climate system. The point of this is to understand how glaciated envionments might change in the future - how the glaciers will respond and what the impact on associated water resources and hazard potential will be.
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