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Water-Energy-Food Security

WRC lighthouse 3 - Water-Energy-Food Security

In recent years, the provision of food, water and energy has become increasingly inter-linked, not only from the point of view of environmental sustainability but also from an affordability perspective. Water, energy and food are inextricably linked. The food production and supply chain is responsible for around 30% of total global energy demand. The water required for energy production currently stands at about 8% of global water withdrawals. According to a 2013 report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), food production is the largest user of water at the global level, responsible for 80–90% of blue-water use. It is projected that by 2050 at least 9.2 billion people will be sharing the planet, with a 60% increase in agricultural demand for food production and a 50% increase in energy demand. By 2030 it is projected that the world could confront a water shortage of approximately 40% due to population growth, climate variability and change, low yields, etc. It is well known that the agriculture sector in this country uses more than 60% of the water resources.

Objectives of the Water–Energy–Food Security Lighthouse
1. Improve water, energy and food security within the WRC domain and beyond
2. Support the transition to a low-carbon economy and sustainability
3. Understand the interdependencies of these respective resource systems (WEF) on each other

Research opportunity
The WEF team has already started identifying WEF-relevant projects that would enhance the Lighthouse initiative. The information comprises completed, current and future projects across all KSAs, as well as work done outside the WRC, for example, by WWF, on the water–energy–food nexus. Bilateral meetings were held with colleagues from KSAs 2 and 3. A first stakeholder workshop on the WEF Lighthouse was held in the third quarter of 2013/14. This workshop included stakeholders such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), Eskom, universities, and science councils. Some of these institutions have already done some work on WEF issues. The workshop also assisted the WEF team to come up with the short-, medium- and long-term plan for the WEF Lighthouse. The workshop also identified stakeholders championing WEF issues outside of the WRC, in order to collaborate with them.

Other issues/tasks that were discussed during the workshop included:        
(a) Lessons learned both internationally and nationally on the WEF issues     
(b) A desktop study to be conducted on completed and existing projects

It is envisaged that a small reference group (expert group) will be set up with representation from the key institutions that are interested in the WEF activities. 

Potential partnership
The WEF activities will be aligned with other existing initiatives across key line departments such as Water Affairs; Energy; Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries; Rural Development & Land Reform; as well as science councils and other public entities including Eskom. The WEF Lighthouse will also take cognisance of the national development priorities including water, food security, and energy policies/plans across all three spheres of government.

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