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)