European large-scale farmland investments and the land-water-energy-food nexus

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Aug 31, 2017
Giuseppina Siciliano, Maria Cristina, Rulli, Paolo D’Odorico



• We explore the water-energy-food nexus for EU farmland investments.

• We estimate virtual water from crop production in the target countries.

• Virtual water is mostly green water consisting of 76% of the total water acquired.

• We analyse freshwater use between flexible, food and energy crops.

• Flexible/energy crops are responsible for most of the water acquired by EU investors.



The escalating human demand for food, water, energy, fibres and minerals have resulted in increasing commercial pressures on land and water resources, which are partly reflected by the recent increase in transnational land investments. Studies have shown that many of the land-water issues associated with land acquisitions are directly related to the areas of energy and food production. This paper explores the land-water-energy-food nexus in relation to large-scale farmland investments pursued by investors from European countries. The analysis is based on a “resource assessment approach” which evaluates the linkages between land acquisitions for agricultural (including both energy and food production) and forestry purposes, and the availability of land and water in the target countries. To that end, the water appropriated by agricultural and forestry productions is quantitatively assessed and its impact on water resource availability is analysed. The analysis is meant to provide useful information to investors from EU countries and policy makers on aspects of resource acquisition, scarcity, and access to promote responsible land investments in the target countries.


Read the full paper in Advances in Water Resources.
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