It is important to note that the issues of water, energy, and food are closely related. The relationship between the three can be explained using the nexus approach. The approach is aimed at showing where and how these three systems intersect (Rasul and Sharma 14). In such a case, an action that relates to one system tends to have an impact on the other. Food refers to any substance that can be consumed with the aim of nourishing the body (McDonald 17).
Plants and animals are the main sources of food. Energy, on the other hand, is the substance that can be transmitted from one object to another. There are various forms of energy that can be changed. It is, however, important to note that energy cannot be destroyed or created. Energy is vital to ensure that all systems function efficiently and continuously. Water is described as a transparent fluid. It is an indispensable component of all living organisms. Rain, streams, rivers, lakes, and seas across the globe are formed from different sources of water.
Both energy and water have a great impact on food (Cramwinckel, 313). To this end, they play a major role in food security. Food implies supply and access to particular commodities. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) defines the term food as availability or accessibility to resources that are safe, sufficient, and nutritious. It also includes products that meet the preferences and dietary needs of the population with the aim to promote healthy and active living (Redwood 73).
Today, the United Nations (UN) considers access to adequate food as one of the human rights (Redwood 73). As a result, governments across the world have embarked on policies and projects aimed at promoting food security. To enhance sustainability, multi-agency approaches to food security should be adopted. Given the close relationship that exists between energy, water, and the agricultural sector, it is important to focus on agencies that deal with these elements in order to formulate sound and sustainable food security policy.
The current paper aims at promoting a better understanding of the demand and supply drivers of food security within the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The paper will be written in the context of the ongoing Masdar energy, water, and food nexus laboratory project.
All countries across the globe should ensure an adequate supply of food for their population. The food should also be affordable to everyone, including socially unsecure segments of the population. The reason behind this is that affordability is one of the major factors affecting the availability of any commodity. To this end, the UAE government should put in place strategies to promote food security inside the country.
Currently, the government has formulated and adopted a number of policies to keep up with the demands and preferences for food among its citizens. To this end, it is important to note that the UAE is a desert environment. As such, there is a constant scarcity of fresh water to support agricultural activities. Freshwater ensures the health of crops and the quantity of livestock rearing in the country (Wong 34709).
It is also noted that the harsh climatic conditions in UAE hinder agriculture in all aspects. The temperature in the country is extremely high throughout the year. In the past, the government engaged other countries in the importation of food. A number of projects have also been initiated, which are aimed at the improvement of the existing infrastructure for food and water storage. However, these activities are only aimed at achieving short-term goals. Better strategies need to be adopted in order to ensure food sustainability. The government of the UAE can only achieve this by putting in place favorable inter-agency policies.
What many do not pay attention to is the close relationship between energy, water, and food. Stakeholders, as a result, fail to take the energy, water, and food nexus approach seriously. In reality, this approach should be given a priority because it enhances food security in the country (Wong 34709). To ensure this, stakeholders and agencies involved in the energy and water sectors should cooperate with the government closely to develop strategies that are aimed at improving food security. In this case, measures to strengthen the agricultural sector should be adopted. The country should also seek to be more self-reliant. Currently, the UAE relies on other countries for the food supply. However, reforms in the water, energy, and agricultural sectors would be instrumental in promoting the sustainability of the country.
There are a number of factors that support energy, water, and food nexus in the UAE. The drivers are the demand and supply, which are closely associated with food security in the country. To begin with, there is a rapid growth in the country’s population. The increase has resulted in rising demands for food in the region. The situation has prompted the government to seek ways of improving food security. Environmental degradation is also a major motivating factor.
The UAE government has taken steps to conserve water resources. These resources are scarce, and the Agriculture sector struggles to unblock them to support irrigation (Scott, Kurian, and Wescoat 26). As such, the ongoing nexus will promote food security in the region. At the same time, it will play an important role in protecting the environment. Another major motivation is climate change.
In recent times, the world has witnessed adverse changes in climatic conditions. Decreasing rainfall levels are one of the most common climatic changes in the region. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to practice agriculture in the country (Scott, Kurian, and Wescoat 26). The ongoing nexus will be aimed at improving food security in the region by promoting agriculture through effective and efficient energy and water policies.
Resource scarcity and human insecurities are also the major motivating factors for the nexus. Although the country has rich oil deposits, water shortage is the biggest problem per se. Since the country is located in a desert, it is necessary to formulate effective strategies to ensure that water resources are utilized in an efficient manner. This will support both the industrial and agricultural sectors. Food scarcity is also a major factor behind the nexus.
Instances of drought, famine, and inflated prices are classic examples of food crises (Scott, Kurian, and Wescoat 26). When such situations occur, the availability of food and access to it in the UAE is negatively affected. As such, the government and other stakeholders in the country, especially those concerned with food security, have formulated strategies that will help prevent such crises in the future. The need for sustainability has also prompted ongoing nexus. The UAE government seeks to put in place strategies that will ensure a stable supply of food to support the population.
The need for diversification is also a major motivating factor to ensure food security. Members of the UAE society have varying preferences when it comes to this nexus. For example, some people prefer local dishes, while others opt for fast foods. As such, there is a need to strike a balance between the supply of both processed and fresh foodstuffs. There is also a rising demand for junk food in the UAE. A big number of people living in the country consume fast food to satisfy their demands in food. Water and energy are vital in fast food production (Wong, 34709). As such, the government should formulate new strategies relating to water and energy utilization in the country in order to effectively allocate resources to the food processing sector.
Relevance to Masdar Institute of UAE
The Masdar Institute was established in 2007. It is often referred to as the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. It is a modern university committed to the promotion of research and development in the region. Studies conducted in the school are at the graduate level. Only engineering courses cater to in the learning institution. A great deal of emphasis is put on the environment, alternative sources of energy, as well as sustainability (Wong 34709). The ongoing nexus is relevant to the Masdar Institute, given that it seeks to develop sustainable strategies to deal with the issue of food security in the UAE. As such, it seeks to offer lasting solutions to the problem.
Energy and water are identified as some of the major factors that influence the availability and accessibility of food (Rasul and Sharma 16). In this case, water is needed to grow crops. It is also used to produce electric energy required for the agricultural sector to process foodstuffs and raise livestock. Energy is also instrumental in promoting food security. It ensures the smooth operation of plants that process foodstuffs.
In addition, it is used to pump and pressurize technical water for irrigation. Transportation of agricultural inputs and outputs also rely on this resource. As such, it is evident that a close relationship exists between food, energy, and water. In this case, food security sustainability can only be achieved if the government and other stakeholders focus on water and energy supply. The current nexus adopts strategies and borrow principles suggested by the Masdar Institute programs.
The core objective of this research paper is to analyze the ongoing energy, water, and food nexus. The analysis will help to understand better the demand and supply drivers of food security within the UAE. As a result, agencies and stakeholders involved in this process will be able to tackle issues involved in food security from an integrated and holistic point of view. As such, they will be in a position to formulate food strategies that will optimize and increase the welfare of the country (Rasul and Sharma 15). The strategies will also be in line with the principles advocated for by the Masdar Institute, especially on matters of environmental conservation, alternative sources of energy, and sustainability. The core objectives of the study will go along to ensure that the aims of this research are met.
The aims of this research are:
- To analyze the various factors that affect the availability and accessibility of food within the UAE.
- To assess the relationship that exists between water, energy, and food security.
- To show how the ongoing energy, water, and food nexus will support strategies aimed at enhancing food security in the UAE.
Food security is one of the major challenges many countries across the globe are facing today. The situation is worse in the Middle East. The main reason behind this is the desert environment in the region. As a result, growing of crops and rearing of livestock for food is hindered (McDonald 17). The UAE is one of the countries situated in the region. The nation faces constant water shortage throughout the year. Energy, on the other hand, is readily available in the country as a result of the vast oil deposits. Based on the significant relationship between water, energy, and food, research indicates that integrated strategies will help address the issue of food security in the UAE in a sustainable manner.
The Energy, Water, and Food Nexus
It is evident that there is an interaction between water, energy, and food. Changes in one of then affect the other which will not pass unnoticed for the all three. Water, for example, is used for a variety of purposes. It can be used to support mining, extraction, refining, and processing activities (Rasul and Sharma 14). It is also used in the production of food crops and rearing of livestock. Water is also vital in the energy sector. It aids in the production process for generation of bio fuel. In the UAE, water is also used for the purposes of oil refining. It is evident that this element is required both for the agricultural and in the energy sectors.
The amount of water allocated to agricultural processes in the UAE determins the status of food security in the country. Energy is also vital in driving other sectors of the economy. As such, the government, relevant agencies, and stakeholders in the relevant sector must seek ways to allocate the resource in a manner that best suits national interests (Cramwinckel 317). However, in-depth research needs to be conducted in order to make informed decisions. The ongoing nexus is expected to help policy makers in the country arrive at workable decisions.
Energy is an important driver of any given economy. For example, the UAE relies on energy to support agricultural, manufacturing, mining, and extraction activities. the nation has rich oil deposits but not the water ones. As such, there is an adequate supply of energy. However, crude oil refining requires a lot of water (Rasul and Sharma 13). Deliberated efforts are required to allocate of the available water resources to the various sectors of the UAE economy.
The agricultural and industrial sectors compete for these reserves. It is, however, important to note that the energy sector is directly affected by the availability of water in the UAE. It also affects access to food. Since the country lacks enough supply of clean surface water, the government has identified the sea as the next viable source. However, water from this source has high salt and other minerals concentration. As such, it cannot be used in the industrial and agricultural sectors. Desalination, is and energy intensive process, which has to be undertaken to purify the water. For this reason, energy becomes vital to food security
Pumping of water into fields for agricultural purposes also requires energy. Energy is also needed to carry out other farm preparation activities, such as tillage. Irrigation is also an energy intensive practice (Cramwinckel 316). In the UAE case, it is important to note that irrigation is important to promote food security since the region receives little rainfall throughout the year. Energy is also needed for food transportation from the fields to the markets. In addition, it is required for the materials processing on plants. Although energy is required in almost all aspects of the UAE economy, especially with regards to food security, the government and other stakeholders should be wary of environmental pollution.
The strategies to be adopted by stakeholders to address food security must be sustainable and successful. The strategies have to address social, economic, and environmental consequences of the approaches used. In order to ensure that all national interests are addressed, integrated and more holistic approaches need to be adopted (Scott, Kurian and Wescoat 27). The ongoing energy, water, and food nexus is one of such approaches that will help address the issue of food security in a sustainable manner.
The study will adopt a qualitative research design. The three aspects which are water, energy, and food will be analysed independently. The link between them will then be investigated. Nexus tools will be used to explain water and energy elements and how they interact with each other. Relationship between the elements and food will also be analysed. The nexus tools will with various parameters be used. In this case, index will be adopted instead of area. The study will be guided by indices to help the researcher make informed conclusions. The approach will also help the researcher avoid biasness.
The researcher will utilise existing secondary data in the field. To this end, the research will acknowledge the existing body of literature when it comes to nexus issues of energy, water, and food. Resources with propositions on how the water and the energy sectors impact on food security will also be utilised. The information gathered from the resources will be used to meet the set objectives. As such, literature review will be the main source of data for the research.
The Gantt chart is used to illustrate project schedule. Most importantly, it illustrates the dates when both terminal and summary elements of the project should be started and finished. As such, it is a structure relating to work break-down within the stipulated timelines. In this case, the project will be conducted between June 2015 and May 2016. Key elements of the undertaking include data collection and modelling, which will take place between June and August 2015.
Other elements include reviewing and analysing final results, which is expected to take place between September and December of 2015. Other activities include wrapping up (which will be done between January and March 2016) and thesis write-up. The former is scheduled to take place within the first four months of 2016. Thesis defence will take place in April, while the final draft will be ready by the end of May. As such, the project is expected to take a period of one year.
Cramwinckel, Joppe. “Water and Energy Nexus: Role of Technology.” Fourth Botin Foundation Water Workshop Re-thinking Water and Food Security 9.30 (2010): 309-317. Print.
McDonald, Bryan. Food Security, Cambridge: Polity, 2010. Print.
Rasul, Golam, and Bikash Sharma. “The Nexus Approach to Water–Energy–Food Security: An Option for Adaptation to Climate Change.” Climate Policy 4.18 (2015): 1-21. Print.
Redwood, Mark. Agriculture in Urban Planning: Generating Livelihoods and Food Security, Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2009. Print.
Scott, Christopher, Mathew Kurian, and James Wescoat. “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Enhancing Adaptive Capacity to Complex Global Challenges.” Governing the Nexus 8.27 (2014): 15-38. Print.
Wong, Kaufui. “Energy–Water–Food Nexus and Recommendations for Security.” Journal of Energy Resources Technology 10.28 (2014): 34701-34713. Print.