“Water, food and energy security can no longer be

“Water, food and energy security can no longer be viewed as isolated
global problems” – critically examine this statement (15)

 

            The water, food and energy security
nexus is the interconnections between these three security sectors and linking
them together as one impacts another or all the other sectors (FAO). This way
of ‘nexus’ thinking has become important to sustainable development as the
number of global population rapidly increases, nearly reaching 7.6 billion
people, along with rapid urbanization and economic growth, all requiring more
resources than the planet can provide. Water Security according to the
Sustainable Development Goal SDGs is having continuous “access to safe drinking
water and sanitation” for sustaining livelihoods and socio-economic development
under peace and political stability (UN). Food Security is defined as the “availability
and access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet the dietary needs
and food preferences for an active and healthy life”(FAO). Energy Security is then
referred to having “access to clean, reliable and affordable energy sources for
cooking, heating, lighting, communications and productive uses.” The three
resource sectors have been parts of vital requirements from human survival to
achieving global development and will only continue to become more important. According
to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) there will be a 30%
increase in demand for water by 2030. As for food and energy demands by 2030,
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and International
Energy Agency (IEA) predicts a 40% increase. The nexus approach integrates
management and governance that considers various partnerships and diplomatic
policies that will benefit citizens, organizations, and government agencies to
transition to a Green Economy. By critically examining the understanding of the
substantial interactions among water, food and energy security using examples:
the importance of developing a sustainably secure environment, economy and
ecosystem on a global level can be achieved.

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            Water security is obviously one of
the most essential compounds to human population not only for drinking
consumption but also for productions behind everything else. This implies that
water is essential to meeting demands in sanitation, industrial productions,
and most importantly agriculture producing food. Food production undoubtedly
consumes the largest amount of global fresh water supplies, often referred to
as embedded water, of which agriculture specifically is responsible for 70%-90%
of its consumption. It is also known that there should be enough water to
produce food for everyone on a global scale; however, it is estimated by the
World Health Organization (WHO) that 884 million people around the world lack
access to clean water and 795 million of those people are undernourished. On
that note, it is clear that majority of agriculture is responsible for
over-exploiting the fresh water usages or simply do not use it effectively or
efficiently. Establishing strict policies that are realistic and flexible to
certain extents could be worked to control the use of fresh water and food
volatility. Implications that reduce freshwater use per capita by encouraging
use of water to reused water can be included and be regulated by government
agencies and environmental organizations. A similar policy such as switching to
drought tolerant crops can lead to reduction in water usage among agriculture. Other
measures for water scarce regions could implement robust conveyance of water
can improve water availability and food security. The Khong-Chi-Mun project in
Thailand planned to utilize the Mekong River’s tributaries for a large
inter-connected irrigation system that would meet the needs of the entire
north-west regions (Allouche). Unfortunately without much government support only
one of the dams was created and instead created low productive blockade that only
serves irrigation to less than 1,600 hectares. This reveals the importance of
global collaborations and supports between the people–government, citizens, and
organizations–to thrive environmentally beneficial projects into reality. Climate
change caused by pollution is another major factor affecting both water and
food security. It can affect the quality of water and land: by changing the
ground water discharges, that erodes different land spaces, which would degrade
existing land and decrease in water quality. By understanding how fresh water
and food in terms of agriculture are affecting each other and the environment, agriculture
policy that positively influence water demands and water policy for agriculture
that positively influences food demands can be established.

The interconnection between food and energy security is
strongly connected around the use of technology and its innovations. During our
daily lives people use many different types of energy for cooking food.

Restaurants may have cooking stove, which uses natural gas, while more modern
houses may use electrical stoves to cook food. On industrial agriculture
productions, there is a heavy reliance on quick and efficient process using
machines that are able to plant, fertilize, irrigate, harvest, process, and
distribute. The resulting increase of yields from mechanization and other
modern measures are energy-intensive, using 30% of total global energy demands,
and sometimes lead to soil degradation. Much of the energy consumptions are
used for electricity to power the machines but some use oil and coal
(non-renewable energy), which are unsustainable ways of production. Tractors
for examples are common motor vehicles, used in agriculture to do heavy work on
farmlands, which use fossil fuels to run it. Oil alone in the United Kingdom
accounts from 30% to 75% of commercial agriculture depending on the cropping
systems (Woods). A less harmful fuel source called Biofuel, made from
agriculture using biological process, do exist but only consist for 4% of US
fuel consumption. On the other hand renewable energy productions such that
harvest wind or solar energy have been constructed on land. The positive
effects are not having to worry about the finite fossil fuel resources or
creating green house gasses that eventually disrupt Earth’s O-zone layers. Although
it may take up potential agriculture land space, this investment allows not
only sustainable Green Economy but also allow innovation to advance through
secure energy security and food productions. There is no concrete linear
relationship that shows the relationship between the amount of energy usage and
food productions but they definitely connected to an extent. To meet the rising
demand of agriculture production, it is clear that there is a need to use
energy-intense machines that help with its production.

            Water security and energy security
are essentially intertwined to improve conditions in human health, ecosystem
and economic sustainability. Energy is used to desalinize, clean, and
distribute water around the world. Water also can be major source for energy
generations. Building infrastructures to utilize water for energy and using energy to build that infrastructure
allows benefits to meet the rising demands. It allows more efficient pumping of
water to get to households and agriculture as well as improve the conditions in
irrigation by conveying water using pressurized water. However, this connection
between these two sectors can sometimes become conflicted in decision-makings
between governments, citizens, and corporations. According to the UN, there are
263 trans-boundary lake and river basins in the world that covers nearly 50% of
land surface. These boundries between countries causes global problems, as they
have to share the same source of water, which may differ in quality as its
being used downstream by different people. The use of water differs from
countries in relation to its economic developments. At high income countries
(HICs) Dams and hydropower plants are built to control water flow and
distribution as well as potentials to change quality of the released water. Low-income
countries on the hand simply use water for basic needs, to drink, cook, and
sanitize. Due to the potential issues using water sources policies and treaties
have to be made to limit conflicts between the borders and ensure the
environmental safety. The UN states that over 3600 treaties and agreements were
signed between countries that attempt to monitor, enforce and provision the
water flows. There are environmental impacts that have to be carefully
considered such as losses of habitats and pollution as well. These policies
will then be implemented to create safer and cleaner uses of water that can be
used to create renewable energy. Currently, energy sources are being relied on
oil and coals; all creates heavy pollution after use and cannot be easily
disposed in a clean method. To solve this issue removing bio solids from
wastewater can be used as energy sources which can then also help reduce fossil
fuel reliance and reduce the amount of process treatment plants (UN Waters).

These types of solutions can help benefit energy and water securities.

            Water, food, and energy security
nexus is a very important approach of systemic thinking that integrates
solutions that will guide resource management and true sustainable development.

This understanding that global problems are not isolated problems, the
importance of resource allocation, and considering the biodiversity and climate
change is critical. Climate change become worse as time progresses due to
pollution, destroying ecosystems and causing droughts is a global problem that
affects all three sectors of human necessities. The adaptive measures of being
water efficient, decreasing fresh water usage; agriculture productive, wasting
less land; less energy intensive, reusable energy approach of the nexus is
crucial to help climate change. To better manage the tri-factor, transparent
decisions, and community inclusive interrelationships can create adaptive and
realistic policies to affect each connecting sectors. Nexus can also encourage local
farmers, organizations, and agencies to become involved on global issues that
can benefit not only their problems but also the worlds developing issues. The
challenging Nexus recognition around the world is growing and provides the best
approach, given the complex linkages and feedbacks involved, for sustainable
development to the present and future.