Delivering water, energy and food for all in a sustainable and equitable way is one of the major challenges faced by our societies. Future Earth will support this goal by providing the knowledge needed to understand how interactions between water, energy and food are shaped by environmental, economic, social and political changes and how the synergies and trade-offs among them can be better planned and managed.
Interactions between water, energy and food systems are manifold (see Figure). Energy is required to process and distribute water, water is central for nearly all forms of energy production, and both energy and water are key to any food enterprise. These interactions intensify as the demand for resources increases with population growth and the move towards ever more resource-intensive lifestyles. By 2050, according to most of the baseline scenarios, the demand for energy will nearly double while water and food demand is expected to increase by over 50%. These dynamics are combined with major trends such as climate and land use change, and the depletion of natural resources, which already limit the ability of existing systems to meet growing demands. Integrated resource management for food, energy and water is required to face, as well as to curb, these trends that already threatens food, water and/or energy security and sustainable development in many places of the world.
In addition, a significant part of the global population still lacks access to electricity (1.2 billion people in 2013 according to the World Energy Outlook 2015), clean and safe water (783 million people in 2014 according to AQUASTAT) and food (842 million undernourished people in 2012 according to FAO). Thus, solutions towards an improved and integrated resource management for water, energy and food will also need to overcome this access deficit.
About Future Earth
Future Earth is a major international research platform providing the knowledge and support to accelerate transformations to a sustainable world.
Launched in 2015, Future Earth is a 10-year initiative to advance Global Sustainability Science, build capacity in this rapidly expanding area of research and provide an international research agenda to guide natural and social scientists working around the world. But it is also a platform for international engagement to ensure that knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science. We are closely engaged in international processes such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and climate and biodiversity agreements (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity).
Future Earth is built on many decades of international research on global environmental change carried out by projects sponsored by DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP). Over 20 projects, ranging from the Global Carbon Project to the Earth System Governance project, have joined Future Earth. From this intellectual base Future Earth is launching Knowledge-Action Networks to catalyze new research and partnerships around eight key challenges to global sustainability.
Future Earth’s five Global Hubs are based in Colorado, Montreal, Paris, Stockholm and Tokyo and coordinate and catalyse new research for global sustainability. Regional Centres are operational in Asia, Europe, the Middle-East and North Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, while Regional Offices are emerging in Africa and South Asia. National Structures are also forming in countries across the planet.
We are an open network for scientists of all disciplines, natural and social, as well as engineering, the humanities and law. We endorse world-class projects, networks and institutes who can contribute to our research agenda and are committed to transformation.