Integrated scenarios to support analysis of the food–energy–water nexus

Vuuren, Detlef P. Van; Bijl, David L.; Bogaart, Patrick; Stehfest, Elke; Biemans, Hester; Dekker, Stefan C.; Doelman, Jonathan C.; Gernaat, David E.H.J.; Harmsen, Mathijs


The literature emphasizes the important relationships between the consumption and production of food, energy and water, and environmental challenges such as climate change and loss of biodiversity. New tools are needed to analyse the future dynamics of this nexus. Here, we introduce a set of model-based scenarios and associated Sankey diagrams that enable analysis of the relevant relationships and dynamics, as well as the options to formulate response strategies. The scenarios show that if no new policies are adopted, food production and energy generation could further increase by around 60%, and water consumption by around 20% over the period 2015–2050, leading to further degradation of resources and increasing environmental pressure. Response strategies in terms of climate policies, higher agricultural yields, dietary change and reduction of food waste are analysed to reveal how they may contribute to reversing these trends, and possibly even lead to a reduction of land use in the future.