Unless action is taken to confront these pressures, there will be considerable costs and missed opportunities. Environmental stresses (e.g. in water) affect women and girls disproportionally, lack of energy services is a binding constraint to economic growth, and the poorest are frequent losers from large scale land deals.
Population growth, economic growth and rising incomes are increasing and changing the demand for food, energy and water. Despite declining income poverty in many developing countries, around 1 billion people are still undernourished, 0.9 billion do not have access to clean water, and 1.5 billion do not have access to electricity. It is estimated that, compared with present levels, the demand for energy and water will grow by 40 per cent by 2030, the demand for food by 50 per cent. How can the current scandalous undersupply be overcome quickly, and how can the growing demand be satisfied sustainably in the future?
The third European Report on Development (ERD) — drawn up by three European think tanks, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) and the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) — focuses on the use of scarce resources for inclusive and sustainable growth in the spheres of water, energy and land.
It introduces the concept of the water, energy and land nexus (the WEL nexus) as crucial to tackling these challenges in an integrated way.
The report highlights a four pronged approach towards achieving a growth path that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable:
-Demand management - reducing the environmental footprint of consumption, aiming to increase inclusive growth with fewer natural resources
-Increased quality and quantity of supply of resources such as soil, renewable energy and water
-Greater resource efficiency — promoting innovation in sustainable agriculture and renewable energy
-Improved resilience - minimising the negative impact on the poorest for example by better and more transparent land deals