Food-Energy-Water Interdependencies of the Global Agrarian Transition

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Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Jampel Dell’Angelo, VU University Amsterdam
Paolo D’Odorico, University of California Berkeley
Associated Program: 


Competition among energy, food and water security is a core issue in the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus.  The growing societal needs for food and energy add an unsustainable pressure on limited amount of freshwater resources. In this context, the recent global economic and food security crisis, the adoption of new bioenergy policies, trends of water and land commodification, triggered a fast escalation in transnational land investments. A phenomenon described as a new ‘global land rush’. This process is favoring a strong transformation of the rural landscapes in developing countries with small-scale farming, the most diffused system of production, being displaced by large-scale commercial intensified agriculture. These transnational large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) directly impact the socio-environmental dimensions of the FEW nexus through the shift from small-scale farming to commercial systems of intensified agricultural production and through the land use change associated with the acquisition of forested land and ecosystems transformation. The aim of this Pursuit is to assess the relationship between LSLAs and the FEW nexus considering not only the agricultural elements of this transformation, but also the impacts on land cover, water and energy demand, on ecosystems, and the effects on the socio-economic, cultural and institutional conditions on the affected populations. LSLAs present some unique challenges to FEW systems’ sustainability. Solutions promoting sustainable development will be identified and discussed once the complex interdependencies between the food-water and energy systems are detected and analyzed.


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