Mitigating Risks and Vulnerabilities in the Energy-Food-Water Nexus in Developing Countries: Summary for Policymakers


In an increasingly resource-constrained world, the energy-food-water ‘nexus’ – the interconnections among these three systems that are vital for human survival – has become central to the discourse on sustainable development. Treating each system independently risks underestimating their critical linkages and vulnerabilities, possibly leading to the formulation and implementation of ineffectual or even counterproductive policies and measures.

This report summarises the policy-relevant conclusions of a study that aimed: (1) to understand the dynamic interactions occurring among energy, food and water systems with a view to identifying the key vulnerabilities and risks facing developing countries in terms of nexus security; and (2) to inform planning and policy in developing countries to mitigate these risks and to promote economic efficiency, social equity and environmental sustainability in food, energy and water provision to their citizens via a transition to more sustainable and resilient systems. The analysis was conducted at a global scale and also within three country case studies that represent agrarian, industrial and ‘ecological’ socioecological regimes.

In the coming decades growing demand, tightening resource constraints, and intensifying impacts of climate change are likely to intensify the risks inherent in energy-food-water nexus interconnections. Nexus mitigation interventions will form a critical part of societal transitions toward greater resilience and sustainability in the face of global and local environmental, resource and population pressures. Policy interventions should aim to identify win-win solutions that harness synergies and maximise co-benefits across the energy-food-water nexus. Policymakers must deal with unavoidable trade-offs by assembling relevant scientific information and involving stakeholders in consultative processes to inform policy decisions. There is considerable scope for more specific and detailed research and policy formulation in the developing world, especially at the country level but also at regional and global levels.


Wakeford, J.; Kelly, C.; Mentz Lagrange, S. Mitigating Risksand Vulnerabilities in the Energy-Food-Water Nexusin Developing Countries: Summary for Policymakers. Sustainability Institute, Stellenbosch, South Africa (2015) 40 pp.

Mitigating Risks and Vulnerabilities in the Energy-Food-Water Nexus in Developing Countries: Summary for Policymakers

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