Recent stories

Ecosystems: One Key to the Water, Food, and Energy Nexus

Water, food, and energy are fundamentally inter-connected.  Before I began learning more about this water, food, and energy nexus leading up to the World Water Forum, I didn’t understand the full implications of this. Water is necessary for providing food and energy to populations in modern societies.  Water is used to grow vegetables and grains that we consume and to feed animals that we consume.  Water is used to cool power plants that produce our electricity and to process the gasoline used in our vehicles.  Have you considered how much virtual water you “consume” through the food you eat and the electricity you use?  The impacts also occur in other directions: access to energy allows easier transportation of food to those in need and the ability to utilize effective water-purification technologies. In a world increasingly concerned about water, food and energy security, it is important to understand the connections between them all.  A threat to any one of them would impact the other two.  While much of the World Water Forum focused on those lacking access to water and sanitation, there are 1.3 billion people lacking access to electricity and 1 billion people undernourished worldwide.  Because water, food, and energy issues affect and are affected by one another so much, it is important to consider than together rather than in isolation.  The High Level Panel: Water, Food, and Energy Nexus on Friday, March 16 discussed these interactions and proposed solutions.  

The speakers at the high level panel included individuals from a range of countries and backgrounds: Uschi Eid (UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water, Gérard Wolf (Electricité de France), Rodney Cooke (International Fund for Agricultural Development), Dilip Kulkarni (JAIN Irrigation Systems, India), Yasar Yakis (Turkish Parliament), Diego Bravo (Columbia), Jane Madgwick (Wetlands International), Thomas Chiramba (United Nations Environment Programme),  Rhoda Tumusiime (African Union), Alain Vidal (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Challenge Program on Water and Food), and Lee Yangho (Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Korea).  

What is the Key to ensuring that we can continue to have access to water, food, and energy in the future?

Eco-Services: The Holistic Valuation of Water

One of the hotly debated topics among environmental wonks, public sector representatives and companies is the value of water. Water is a resource considered to be ‘free’ and a public right by many. Why is it that our most necessary life-sustaining resource carries so inadequate a monetary value in relation to other resources such as oil? Peter Gammeltoft of the European Commission pointed out that water pricing is just one part of the solution associated with increasing awareness about its worth.  It is important to point out that other issues exist within the framework of creating a stronger monetary value for water because assigning a price to consumption (only) still does not prevent pollution from other sources. One way to value water is through overall ecosystem sustainability, which should be considered from a holistic perspective.  People often turn to technology in order to solve our problems. Technology’s main eco-equitable purpose should be to promote ‘more with less’.

Environmental Monitoring with Jaqueline M. McGlade

Imagine someone telling you: “We are living a completely sustainable life. Exploitation of our resources for example fishery is not dangerous and there will be enough left for our children and grandchildren.” Of course you’d reply: “No, we aren’t living a sustainable life. We can’t go on like this forever.” But how could you conquer your opponent by using facts?