event 06 mai 2014

Policy Brief // A Safe Space for Humanity: The Nexus of Food, Water, Energy, and Climate

By Peter Rogers and Samuel Daines. The 20th Century saw major human triggered transitions that cumulatively are threatening the safety of the habitat for humans on planet earth. Population, resources, and the rapid accumulation of wealth all are intertwined in the 5 major transitions from the past to our new global future. These major transitions are: first, the "urban population transition;" second, the "nutrition transition"; third, the "climate transition"; fourth, the "energy transition"; and, fifth, the "agricultural transition". This policy brief focuses on the most salient problems arising from these global transitions that can be ameliorated by specific policy instruments in the short term.

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Key points

  • The world, and Asia, is currently passing through a difficult period of concern about the future sustainability of food supplies. The causes of this concern are based on many premises: the population is still growing fast; with increasing wealth, the diet is shifting to consumption of higher value products; the yield in major grains is leveling off; available land suitable for food production is limited; water for irrigation is lacking; and climate change is leading to increased temperatures with more variable rainfall.
  • Reducing the inefficiencies in the food chain cannot be considered independent of energy policy and agricultural commodity trade policies. Caring for all of the intersectoral policies in the face of a very uncertain climate future is extremely difficult to articulate.
  • The preliminary findings of case studies indicate the potential for vertical integration and modernization of food value chains to achieve food and nutrition security through drastically reducing their price structures and generating rural employment, while helping ease the competition over natural resources in the food-water-energy nexus. Aggregation of small farms, backed by equitable institutional arrangements, and mechanization and modernization of agriculture not only maximize efficiency in the use of land, water, and energy but also enable many smallholder farmers to access and benefit from emerging business opportunities in urban markets.


  • Abstract
  • Five Global Transitions
  • The Nexus of Food, Water, Energy, and Climate
  • Food Consumption
  • Sustainable Agriculture in Asia
  • Dealing with an Uncertain Future
  • Achieving the Goals
  • Conclusions
  • The Way Forward


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