Food, water and energy are essential for economic development and the well-being of every society around the planet. When we talk about the “environment” it is to a large extent this nexus that we are primarily referring to. The supply of these ecosystems services is a critical set of variables. But all are showing stress under increased demand and diminishing supply. This increased demand will mean somewhere between 50 and 100% more food by 2050. EIA projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040 with most of this growth coming from the non-OECD economies. Demand for water will also increase, it is projected that by just 2030 water supplies will satisfy only 60 percent of global demand.
Just to illustrate how these different domains are interrelated. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of total global freshwater withdrawals, making it the largest user of water. Water is used for agricultural production, forestry and fishery, along the entire agri-food supply chain, and it is used to produce or transport energy in different forms. Water is used for extraction, mining, processing, refining and even generation of electricity through dams. Inversely energy is needed to pump water out of the grown and the irrigation of food requires the use of electricity. In this way they each enable each other but they also interact destructively through pollutants eg. water can pollute food, energy pollute water.