The Water-food-energy nexus
Working in partnership to tackle the water and resource challenges shared by our businesses and the communities in which we work.
By 2050 demand for resources is set to increase significantly as the global population grows to nine billion and becomes more prosperous, so requiring more food, water and energy to meet its needs.
Global economic growth is being driven largely by emerging markets. Over the medium term, the World Bank estimates economic growth of 6% in developing countries compared to 2.7% in higher-income countries1.
But this growth could be jeopardised by the resource challenge being felt across the world. The expanding population will need 70% more food, and growing and processing this food will increase water stress. The Water Resources Group, of which SABMiller is a member, estimates that there could be about 40% shortfall between water demand and available freshwater supply by 20302. At the same time, the systems that sustain us all will be affected by climate change.
Water, food and energy are interconnected. Agriculture accounts for about 70% of global freshwater use and can pollute freshwater supplies if mismanaged. Water is also used to generate electricity: in the USA, power generation accounts for about 50% of all freshwater withdrawals3 and drought in countries that use hydropower – Ethiopia and Ghana, for example – can lead to black-outs. Energy, in turn, is needed to fertilise and transport crops, which can themselves be used as biofuel to create energy. Large amounts of energy are also required to pump water to drier regions and, as water scarcity increases, so will the energy needed for technologies such as desalination.
Given these trade-offs and interactions, successfully addressing the triple challenge of water stress, food security and energy supplies means taking a holistic view and balancing the many competing demands. We call this inter-connected issue the water-food-energy nexus.
View our video on 'Water and Food Security' shown below.
SABMiller and The Guardian held a day of live debates discussing how to achieve inter-connected action on water, food and energy.
Water + Food + Energy. What is the Resource Nexus?
1 February 2013
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