Issue Paper: Know the Nexus

Food, water and energy systems are inextricably linked, and as recent events like droughts, oil spills and increasing food prices make clear, the United States can no longer view these systems in isolation. Our new paper, Food, Water and Energy: Know the Nexus, explains that when the food, water and energy nexus becomes unbalanced, there are clear consequences for public health, our economy and the environment (See our Press Release from January 14, 2013). The paper describes how and where these systems intersect, how they rely upon each other to function and how they can have a significant impact on each other.

For example:

“Know  the Nexus” provides three case studies that illustrate these interdependencies:

While the paper provides examples of individuals, businesses and local governments already benefiting from a “nexus approach,” the US government has largely ignored the nexus, as indicated by legislation and policies that rarely account for interconnections in any combination among food, water or energy. In areas such as hydraulic fracturing, the farm bill  and energy subsidies, it is clear that the nation is not effectively monitoring the condition or coordinating the management of food, water and energy systems.

“Know the Nexus” urges individuals, businesses and government to take a nexus approach, which requires a strong understanding of the relationships among these three systems. As the paper concludes, the US needs policies that address the complexity of the nexus at all levels of government, factoring in unique regional characteristics in order to ensure food, water and energy security for an ever-growing population.

See our Press Release from January 14, 2013.


  • Farm Bill