“Water is the least considered factor in the Nexus”

March 22, 2014

RTEmagicC_WWD_2014_logo_EN_01.jpgMarch 22nd is World Water Day but what should that mean to us other than it’s just another ‘Day’ with another ‘Title’?

For many it’s a reason to highlight the very real and critical challenges the population of the planet are facing in terms of water and how it interconnects with food, energy and global warming or in other words – the Nexus.

Nexus is a word you’re likely to hear more about over the coming years as it’s a relatively new (and strikes me as obvious) way of thinking that recognises the critical interdependence of water, energy and food. The short video clip below from the IIEA video explores the deep connections between the three essential resources and highlights the need for nexus thinking to help meet the world’s needs, as it grows from 7 to 9 billion by 2050.

(The Environment Nexus project is co-financed by the European Parliament)

To survive the impending environmental crisis and our increasing dependence on water and energy as the global population grows, decision makers are going to have to talk and agree with one another as well as engage with all communities, from industrial, business and local as well as global, and discuss integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy-food issues.

Breakdown of global freshwater use

Source: World Water Development Report 2012 –

Irrigation for Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater withdrawls

UN Water reports that “water for irrigation and food production constitutes one of the greatest pressures on freshwater resources. Agriculture accounts for around 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, even up to 90 percent in some fast-growing economies. The world population is expected to rise from 7 billion people today to 9 billion in 2050, leading to a 60% increase of the food needed globally and a 19% increase of agricultural water consumption.”

It strikes me that it’s going to take some very strong leadership qualities to pull off a combined wind-energy-food policy that’s not worried about votes and re-elections but has the interest of the planet in mind and not just those of the of rich and powerful energy and agribusiness’. It’s also going to take a shift in our own perceptions in that we’re going to have to wake up and accept that life isn’t always going to be as comfortable as we’ve known it.

world water day

“Water and energy are among the world’s most pre-eminent challenges. This year’s focus of World Water Day brings the issues to the attention of the world,” said Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization and Chair of UN-Water, which coordinates World Water Day and freshwater related efforts UN system-wide. “These issues need urgent attention – both now and in the post-2015 development discussions. The situation is unacceptable. It is often the same people who lack access to water and sanitation who also lack access to energy, ” said Mr. Jarraud.



The 2014 World Water Development Report (WWDR) – a UN-Water flagship report, produced and coordinated by the World Water Assessment Programme, which is hosted and led by UNESCO – is released on World Water Day as an authoritative status report on global freshwater resources. It highlights the need for policies and regulatory frameworks that recognize and integrate approaches to water and energy priorities.

If you’d like to view the report or find out more about World Water Day and why it’s so important that we all begin to understand the Nexus way of thinking, and begin to engage in collaborative discussions about it, please take a few minutes to look at the UN Water Day website and some of the links and videos it recommends.

It’s really quite eye-opening and even if your interest is only brief, at the very least it may urge you to think twice before flushing that toilet so readily or rinsing vegetables under a running tap, and may help to give an understanding of the energy it takes to allow you to do just that.

*World Water Development Report 2012


  • Reply Amanda Webb (@Spiderworking) March 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Great post Dee. I think lots of us in Ireland are of the opinion that there isn’t a problem with water. I think when we see floods we can’t imagine that we’d ever be without it. Of course this isn’t the case and water metering may end up surprising some people.

    Worse is the situation overseas where drinking water is scarce. I can’t even imagine what it is like to see the only drinking water well in the village dry up.

    Might take me a while to get my head around the term Nexus though 🙂

    • Reply greensideupveg March 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks Amanda and yes, I’ve a couple of old post that talk about saving water, mostly written as a result of our own well running dry and how alarming it was! I know a lot of people are against the idea of metering water, but I know from family members in the UK it had a tremendous effect in terms of people minding the water they use. My Mum-in-Law is the master of water saving as a result. She saves all her bath water to use in the garden and has taught me a few tricks for water conservation. There’s always the perception that as water falls out of the sky, it’s free for all. In some respects that seems correct yet I know I’ve been guilty of forgetting how much energy goes into pumping the water around, cleaning it, etc etc which is something WWD’14 has been great at highlighting this year.

  • Reply Lorna March 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

    In many ways, I think that water metering is a good idea as it makes us more conscious about what we are using.
    There’s been much written about recently about how much water goes into produce x kgs of beef (grain fed animals) and it is scary when one calculates what the grain requires to be produced and then of course, it is fed to the animal who also consumes water.
    There’s lots of talk about farmers getting decent prices for their produce too as the population increases but I wonder will it lead to more production of cheap food and chickens etc living not so nice very short lives. But that’s another issue!

    • Reply greensideupveg March 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      I sometimes wish I had a crystal ball Lorna, but then again maybe not. As I was sprinkling the almonds onto the banana cake last week I remembered a report I’d read recently about how much water is used watering almonds. As long as the money raised from the water meters is actually used to upgrade and preserve the water we have and not pay enormous salaries to countless board members and consultants, then water metering has to be a good thing.

  • Reply Feed Ourselves (Real) Food - It's Time to Make Changes - Greenside Up April 6, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    […] across Ireland that with our help, can make significant changes to the way we approach food and to individually become involved with the nexus way of thinking mentioned a short while ago on world wat…. This post shares a few ideas about something we can do to claw back some of the best parts of a […]

  • Comments:

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.