Knowledge for better food systems

Report: 'Mitigating risks and vulnerabilities in the energy-food-water nexus in developing countries'

This report entitled 'Mitigating risks and vulnerabilities in the energy-food-water nexus in developing countries' analyses global nexus interconnections (such as the dependence of food systems on energy at every stage of the food value chain) and identifies key challenges for food, energy and water security, which include economic and population growth, resource depletion, environmental degradation, climate change and globalisation.

It is noted that in an increasingly resource-constrained world, the energy-food-water ‘nexus’ - defined as the interconnections among these three systems vital for human survival - is emerging as an important idea within the sustainable development discourse. Treating energy, food and water systems independently of each other can result in critical system linkages and vulnerabilities being underappreciated and can possibly lead to the formulation and implementation of ineffectual or even counterproductive policies and measures.

The report also analyses the nexus in three case study countries (Malawi, South Africa and Cuba), which represent different levels and types of economic development and ‘socio-metabolic regimes’ (agrarian, industrial and agro-ecological). A wide range of mitigation strategies, policies and measures are proposed that can help developing country governments to manage the nexus more effectively. These include measures to strengthen institutions, governance and policy coherence, as well as technical measures to boost resilience and sustainability of energy, food and water systems and to accelerate a transition to green economies.

See the full report here and a summary for policy-makers here. More information about the research project can be found on Dfid’s website here.

See information about the event where the report will be launched here.

You can find more information about “nexus” research by searching the FCRN website for the keywords “energy food water nexus”.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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