A Key to Understanding the World Water Week

The Water Energy Food Nexus


28 August 2013

Over the past few years, a new concept which encourages us to examine the interdependencies between the consumption of water, energy and food has emerged. With this in mind, theorists of the water energy food nexus are attempting to establish a systemic relationship between these diverse resources. The concepts of ‘water for energy’ and ‘energy for water’ relate to the first component of this system:

1. Activities associated with energy production require large volumes of water, whether to heat nuclear power plants, to refine oil or to mine.

2. Conversely, a great deal of energy is required to power infrastructures for extracting, distributing and treating water.

3. Food production, the third component of the nexus, requires both water (70% of the water used is for agriculture) and energy, and has an impact on water quality (toxic waste, drier soil, etc.). Furthermore, energy generation can affect food production, for instance by polluting ecosystems or diverting a share of agricultural production to make biofuel.

These numerous interactions have led to the creation of a specific field of study aimed at devising new policies based on the synergies between the various economic sectors that affect water, energy and food security. With the addition of the “climate” component, the World Economic Forum (WEF) looked into the concept of a nexus in 2011 in a report dealing with access to water. Germany’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development has also shown itself to be a staunch supporter of the nexus concept, in particular by providing web users with access to the water-energy-food.org information platform.

During World Water Week, to be held in Stockholm from 1–6 September this year, the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development will present a seminar on the water energy food nexus. This will be a rare opportunity to “build a consensus on specific policies” relating to this promising concept.

For a short overview of the water energy food nexus, watch this video from SAB Miller:


This blog was originally posted on Suez Environment: Waterblog. To read the original blog, click here.