Social & Environmental Dimensions of the Food–Energy–Water Nexus

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Food, water and energy systems are linked through a myriad of social and environmental processes and feedbacks. Food–energy–water (FEW) nexus research focuses on understanding the interconnections among FEW systems in order to provide a more complete picture about the causes and consequences of changes within and across dimensions of those systems.

Examples of research areas under this Theme could include (but are not limited to) exploring how:

  • Water and energy are both inputs and outputs from agricultural production, and food and energy systems compete for land, water, and other natural resources.
  • Food and energy production impact water demand and supply, which are both subject to ecological limits and social preferences.
  • Water and agricultural products are inputs into energy production, and also demand energy for utilization.
  • Disruptions in the provision of energy services upon which water treatment, production, and distribution rely can have direct implications for water security.
  • Fluctuations in energy prices can affect the availability, affordability, accessibility, and utilization of food over time.

This Theme is specifically focused on linkages between at least two, and ideally three, of the FEW systems. Linkages of interest might include trade-offs within changes to one more more FEW systems, impacts of activities and outputs from one system to another, causal pathways of how changes in the ecological or social aspects of one system impact characteristics of the other systems, and spatial and temporal patterns in how these systems are interconnected. FEW nexus research must explicitly address the feedbacks and relationships among FEW systems, and must go beyond simply identifying ways to conserve or make more efficient use of water, energy, or food production as inputs into one of the other systems.

Please reach out to Dr. Nicole Motzer (, if you have questions regarding this particular Theme. If you have questions about a proposal topic, we ask that you please include a paragraph and/or concept document about your project even if not fully developed.