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Special Issue "Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Towards New Thinking and Action"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Rimjhim Aggarwal

School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, PO Box 875502, Tempe, AZ 85287-5502, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: agricultural sustainability; sustainable development; agricultural institutions and governance, farm livelihoods, food markets, water-food-energy nexus

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue calls for papers that advance thinking and action on the interdependency between water, energy and food systems—i.e., a nexus approach—from a coupled human-natural systems perspective. In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in understanding how the nexus approach can enhance water, energy and food security by making explicit the inherent tradeoffs, leveraging synergies, improving efficiency, and strengthening governance across these sectors.

What has often been missing from such an analyses is the grounding within the economic, social and political context and the emerging trends such as globalization, urbanization, agrarian transformations, climate change and changing aspirations of the populace. Behind these trends, new—and contested—alternative visions are being articulated for the current and imagined future use of water, land and energy resources. These alternative framings and visions reveal how access to and contestation over natural resources constitutes a key political issue. Major decisions around food, water and energy are highly political, and take place within fragmented institutional spaces, which often do not align with the scientific understandings of the inherent linkages between these resources. Bringing together both the technical (hard) and institutional (soft) dimensions of this interlinkage is therefore fundamental to our efforts to promote just and sustainable societies.

We are looking for papers that develop and apply new conceptual and empirical approaches (including new metrics and decision tools) for a contextualized, multidisciplinary understanding of the nexus and/or provide evidence of how solutions based on a nexus approach have helped enhance security of these systems at local, regional or global levels.

Dr. Rimjhim Aggarwal
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • food security
  • food-water coupling
  • food-energy coupling
  • governance
  • nexus approach

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Energy Efficiency of Intensive Rice Production in Japan: An Application of Data Envelopment Analysis
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 120; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010120
Received: 23 October 2017 / Revised: 5 December 2017 / Accepted: 3 January 2018 / Published: 6 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (524 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Intensive rice production has contributed to feeding the world’s growing world population, but it has also increased fossil energy consumption. This paper examines the effect of increasing the scale of rice farming on the energy efficiency of intensive rice production in Japan. A
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Intensive rice production has contributed to feeding the world’s growing world population, but it has also increased fossil energy consumption. This paper examines the effect of increasing the scale of rice farming on the energy efficiency of intensive rice production in Japan. A data envelopment analysis (DEA) approach is used to calculate energy efficiency scores and identify operational targets. A window analysis technique is applied to the 2005–2011 statistical data, with nine scales of rice farming, ranging from <0.5 ha to ≥15 ha. Six energy inputs (fossil fuels, electricity, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural services, and agricultural machinery) and the weight-based rice yield are selected as the DEA inputs and the DEA output, respectively. The results show that the energy efficiency scores range from 0.732 for farms of 1 ha to <2 ha, to 0.988 for farms ≥15 ha. Overall, increasing the scale of rice farming in Japan improves energy efficiency because of a great reduction in the energy consumed per unit area by agricultural machinery and agricultural services. These findings suggest that increasing the scale of farming is an effective way to enhance the energy efficiency of highly mechanized rice production in developed countries, such as Japan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Towards New Thinking and Action)
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Open AccessArticle Stakeholder Analysis for the Food-Energy-Water Nexus in Phoenix, Arizona: Implications for Nexus Governance
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2204; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122204
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 15 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 29 November 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3426 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Understanding the food-energy-water nexus is necessary to identify risks and inform strategies for nexus governance to support resilient, secure, and sustainable societies. To manage risks and realize efficiencies, we must understand not only how these systems are physically connected but also how they
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Understanding the food-energy-water nexus is necessary to identify risks and inform strategies for nexus governance to support resilient, secure, and sustainable societies. To manage risks and realize efficiencies, we must understand not only how these systems are physically connected but also how they are institutionally linked. It is important to understand how actors who make planning, management, and policy decisions understand the relationships among components of the systems. Our question is: How do stakeholders involved in food, energy, and water governance in Phoenix, Arizona understand the nexus and what are the implications for integrated nexus governance? We employ a case study design, generate qualitative data through focus groups and interviews, and conduct a content analysis. While stakeholders in the Phoenix area who are actively engaged in food, energy, and water systems governance appreciate the rationale for nexus thinking, they recognize practical limitations to implementing these concepts. Concept maps of nexus interactions provide one view of system interconnections that be used to complement other ways of knowing the nexus, such as physical infrastructure system diagrams or actor-networks. Stakeholders believe nexus governance could be improved through awareness and education, consensus and collaboration, transparency, economic incentives, working across scales, and incremental reforms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Towards New Thinking and Action)
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Open AccessArticle Making the Water–Soil–Waste Nexus Work: Framing the Boundaries of Resource Flows
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101881
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 13 September 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 19 October 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1582 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Sustainable Development Goals have placed integrated resources management, such as integrated water resource management, at the heart of their targets. The upcoming “International Decade for Action—Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028 has highlighted the importance of promoting efficient water usage at all levels,
[...] Read more.
The Sustainable Development Goals have placed integrated resources management, such as integrated water resource management, at the heart of their targets. The upcoming “International Decade for Action—Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018–2028 has highlighted the importance of promoting efficient water usage at all levels, taking into account the water, food, energy, and environmental nexus. While integrated resource management approaches have been defined and applied for decades, nexus approaches are more recent. For these latter approaches to be implemented on the ground, their system boundaries need to be clarified. While the Water–Energy–Food Nexus focuses on sectors, the Water–Soil–Waste Nexus addresses linkages between environmental resources—namely water, soil and waste—to tackle sustainable management. In this paper, we analyzed integrated management systems and how their system boundaries are defined. From this we determined that in order for system boundaries to be applicable, they should be clear, wide and flexible. Based on this, we propose the boundary of the Water–Soil–Waste Nexus system. We use two case studies to exemplify the usefulness of these system boundaries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Towards New Thinking and Action)
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Open AccessArticle Variations in the Use of Resources for Food: Land, Nitrogen Fertilizer and Food Nexus
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1322; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8121322
Received: 16 September 2016 / Revised: 31 October 2016 / Accepted: 6 December 2016 / Published: 15 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (650 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Future dietary changes will increase the global demand for agricultural resources per person. Food production requires several resources which are interrelated: land, water, nutrients and energy. Other studies have calculated the per capita requirements of only one resource (nitrogen or land). In this
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Future dietary changes will increase the global demand for agricultural resources per person. Food production requires several resources which are interrelated: land, water, nutrients and energy. Other studies have calculated the per capita requirements of only one resource (nitrogen or land). In this paper, we combine several parameters (diets, production systems and nitrogen-land trade-off) in one analysis in order to provide a more integrated assessment of the impacts of the use of agricultural resources for food. We estimated the trade-off between the per capita use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and crop land. With our methodology, we are able to identify separately the impacts of the type of diet and of the type of production system. We use national level data of five countries as examples of global extremes: from extensive to highly intensive systems, and from very basic diets to very affluent diets. The present differences in diets and production systems result in large differences in the per capita use of resources which ranges from 3 to 30 kg of nitrogen fertilizer use per person, and from 1800 to 4500 m2 of arable land use per person. As the results show, in 2050, the average per capita availability of crop land will not be enough to produce food for affluent diets with present production systems. Our results are useful to assess future requirements of nitrogen fertilizer for the limited land available on the planet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Towards New Thinking and Action)
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