The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Relevant Reports, Articles and Research

The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Relevant Reports, Articles and Research

This list of reports, articles and research that illustrates and documents the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus. While many of them call out the WEF Nexus specifically, some of them might not have as obvious a connection, so we’ve made those connections for you.

GRACE Nexus Reports

Know the Nexus (The Nexus Report)
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“Know the Nexus” explains the clear consequences for public health, the economy and the environment when the food, water and energy nexus becomes unbalanced. It describes how and where these systems intersect, how they rely upon each other to function and how they can have a significant impact on each other. It also describes how our national policies and management (or lack thereof) on topics such as fracking and food and energy subsidies affect food, water and energy systems in both positive and negative ways. We need policies that address the complexity of the nexus at all levels of government. “Know the Nexus” urges individuals, businesses and governments to take a nexus approach.

Meet the Nexus (The Nexus Guide)
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The Nexus Guide shows how everyday food, water and energy decisions have a profound effect on each other and suggests nine simple, daily choices to make in order to use food, water and energy more sustainably. The Nexus concept is broken down into easy-to-digest parts by revealing the hidden connections between food, water and energy in the grocery store, at home and in the kitchen. It also highlights how some local governments and small businesses are making good nexus decisions that protect the environment and keep costs down.

The Food-Water-Energy Nexus

  • Nature Sustainability: Nexus Approaches to Global Sustainable Development
    This paper proposes a systematic procedure to explicitly quantify the contributions of nexus approaches to progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and provides perspectives on future directions.
  • AGU Publications: The Global Food‐Energy‐Water Nexus
    This paper underscores the need for understanding synergies, conflicts and tradeoffs associated with decisions, and suggests that moving towards a circular economy might help resolve problems between the systems.
  • Texas A&M University: Water-Energy-Food Nexus Initiative
    This effort comprises Texas A&M University scientists committed to finding solutions to the nexus grand challenges through multidisciplinary teams that share their skills, knowledge and scientific abilities to produce analytics, grounded in state-of-the-art science and a platform to facilitate inclusive stakeholder dialogues at local, regional and global levels.
  • The International Institute for Sustainable Development: The Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus: Towards a Practical Planning and Decision-support Framework for Landscape Investment and Risk Management
    This discussion provides a solid overview of the various nexus conceptual frameworks and offers ISSD’s vision of how to operationalize – or put into effect – a balanced nexus approach to sustainable development.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council: Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
    This issue paper reveals how Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year, along with 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land.
  • Stockholm Environment Institute: Understanding the Nexus
    This background paper for the Bonn2011Conference on the Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus explains the nexus and presents initial evidence for how a nexus approach can enhance water, energy and food security.
  • University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and the Institute for Global Environmental Leadership workshop: Nexus of Food, Water and Energy
    This event produced a follow-up report that provides an overview of what corporate leaders view as best models and tools needed for future research, potential policy impact and future potential business opportunities.
  • United States Geological Survey Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2015
    This report is the best source for estimates of US water use by power plants, irrigation, livestock, public water supplies and other categories.
  • The World Economic Forum: Water Security: The Water-Food-Energy-Climate Security Nexus
    This report documents how water is linked to economic growth across a number of issues and makes clear the water security challenges to be faced if a “business as usual” approach to water management is maintained.
  • Science Direct: Sustainable Development and the Water–Energy–Food Nexus: A Perspective on Livelihoods
    This research proposes an integrated nexus-livelihoods framework and combines food, water and energy nexus and sustainable livelihoods approaches.
  • IOP Science: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A Systematic Review of Methods for Nexus Assessment
    This paper reviews methods to provide a knowledge base of existing approaches and promote further development of analytical methods that align with nexus thinking.
  • Forbes: The Power Of Food, Water And Energy ‘Nexus Thinking’
    This article illustrates the need to adopt a comprehensive ecosystem view of sustainable growth and development by reviewing how the nexus plays out in Kern County, California.
  • Waginengen University and Research: Water-Food-Energy Nexus
    This study attempts to answer whether the nexus concept is sufficiently developed to support the water-related policy of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and what essential elements of water, food security and energy are necessary to optimize the nexus system.
  • CEO Water Mandate: Virtual Water: Its Implications on Agriculture and Trade (2018)
    This paper considers questions of gaps in knowledge, why sustainability matters, and the policy implications of virtual water trade as compiled from a workshop supported by the OECD Co-operative Research Programme, held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in September 2016.

The Energy-Water Nexus

The Food-Energy Nexus

  • The Congressional Research Service: Energy Use in Agriculture: Background and Issues
    This report provides baseline information on energy use by the US agricultural sector and touches upon emerging issues and related legislation.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Energy Use in Organic Food Systems
    This report analyzed energy use in organic agriculture, in comparison with conventional agriculture, and found that organic agriculture uses less fossil fuel-based inputs and has a smaller carbon footprint than standard agricultural practices.
  • The Webber Group: The Nexus of Food, Waste and Energy
    This analysis of how food, waste and energy are connected looks at the production, transportation and storage of food and the energy embedded in food waste, as well as the energy potential of waste streams.
  • Union of Concerned Scientists: Renewable Energy and Agriculture: A Natural Fit
    These four fact sheets on renewable energy and agriculture provide information on renewable energy technologies and the rural economic development opportunities they could create.

The Food-Water Nexus

  • Circle of Blue: Water & Food
    This collection of stories from Circle of Blue illustrates how the connections between food and water are growing stronger as the population surges toward nine billion people.
  • The Water Footprint Network: The Water Footprint of Food
    This issue page describes how the international trade in agricultural commodities also constitutes a trade with water in virtual form.