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Water-Energy-Food Nexus (WEF)

In previous articles, we have mentioned the responsibility and impact we have as actors within the industry’s value chains. Although we cannot solve all the sector’s problems as individuals, the real impact is found in our collective actions as actors and consumers.

Responsible investment in agriculture and food systems

As actors within the private sector, it is important to be aware of the opportunity we have to create a culture within the spaces that concern us, as well as our duty to interact and coordinate with all stakeholders within the production chain in which we participate, whether between private, social or public sector.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is a net exporter of food at the expense of water stress in the region and CO2 emissions produced by the energy sector. Strategic planning in public policies, the private sector, and the essential promotion of the social sector is necessary to reach a position of sustainability within the three industries.

The Water-Energy-Food Nexus (WEF) concept was formalized at the 2011 Bonn Nexus International Conference, recognizing the intrinsic relationship between these three industries.

In other words, each industry is highly dependent on the availability and well-being of the other two sectors.

Understanding the interrelationship and interdependencies of these industries on environmental resources can result in better water, energy, and food security by integrating management and governance across sectors and scales, reducing trade-offs and building synergies, and generally promoting sustainability and a transition to the green economy.

Most of the studies that consider the complexity of the WEF have been applied in Asia and Europe, so their experience can be learning to acclimatize techniques in Latin America.

The Water Resources Institute organization warns that more than 25% of the world’s crops are grown in regions with severe water scarcity. Following this data, Mexico is the second country in Latin America with the highest water stress, at the same time that it is the main producer and exporter of avocado; According to data from the Dutch organization Water Foodprint Network, around 2,000 liters of water are needed for each kilo of growing avocado.

Water scarcity caused by economic and population growth in moderate to low rainfall areas would be exacerbated by drier and more variable weather conditions. The priority must be to address water governance, as well as its disposal and sanitation.

Rethinking agriculture: polyculture techniques

Around 10,000 years ago we, as species, began to master farming techniques for food production. More than just planting seeds, we lay the foundations for the development of our civilization; at the moment we were sedentary we began to create the communities where the rest of the arts and sciences would be developed.

The LAC region produces enough food for its caloric diet at the expense of water availability and CO2 emissions. Despite this, the region suffers from structural restrictions on access to food, which represents a risk to food and nutritional security. The information suggests the need to make the food sector more efficient. In addition, agricultural expansion in several countries causes deforestation and forest degradation. Therefore, it is essential to introduce novel farming practices, such as polyculture, and sustainable food systems by reducing food losses and waste.




More information:

Mahlknecht, J., González-Bravo, R., & Loge, F. J. (2020). Water-Energy-Food Security: A Nexus Perspective of the Current Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Energy, 116824. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544219325198

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Buenos Aires 2362, Circunvalación Americas, 44630 Guadalajara, Jalisco. México.