Nexus Thinking – Water, Food & Energy

camps
Mike Bing/Flickr

Nexus Thinking es el concepto Agua-Agricultura-Energía. Fíjemonos en esta tricotomía porque el 70% del consumo mundial de agua se lo lleva la producción agrícola. Además, la producción de alimentos y su logística generan un gasto del 30% de la energía consumida a nivel global.

De este modo, queda claro el nexo del título, propuesto por la FAO de cara a afrontar uno de los retos más importantes del siglo XXI:

“Cities, industry and other users, too, claim increasingly more water, energy and land resources, and at the same time, face problems of environmental degradation and in some cases, resources scarcity. This situation is expected to be exacerbated in the near future as 60 percent more food will need to be produced in order to feed the world population in 2050. Global energy consumption is projected to grow by up to 50 percent by 2035 (IEA 2010). Total global water withdrawals for irrigation are projected to increase by 10 percent by 2050 (FAO 2011a).”

nexus-thinking
Fuente: www.waternexussolutions.org

La combinación de ciencia y tecnología, así como los cambios de comportamiento en el consumo serán clave de cara al equilibrio entre los tres elementos. En este sentido, Robert C. Brears, autor de Urban Water Security propone los siguientes puntos en un artículo reciente:

  • Reducción de las pérdidas.
  • Optimización del uso del agua aprovechando sinergias entre diferentes usuarios.
  • Promocionar el ahorro, tanto financiero como de infrastructuras.
  • Reducción del estrés hídrico reduciendo los niveles de consumo insostenibles.
  • Minimizar la degradación de la calidad del agua.

Aplicado a estos puntos tenemos dos ejemplos:

Tariff simulator in Portugal

“The Alqueva Multi-purpose Undertaking (EFMA) in the south of Portugal is Europe’s largest irrigation project. Around 120,000 hectares of irrigation area has been set up in a region where soils are highly suitable for irrigation and the number of hours of sunshine is above the European average. As part of EFMA, irrigators are offered a tool for simulating water consumption and estimating its cost. The irrigation tariff simulator calculates the cost of water consumption based on the location and type of supply, year of introduction of the crop, amount of crop expected and the area covered.”

Water quality trading in the Ohio River Basin

The Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Pilot Project is a first-of-its-kind interstate program that spans Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky to evaluate the use of trading by industries, utilities, farmers and others to meet water quality goals while minimizing costs. The water quality trading program, a market-based approach to achieving water quality goals, allows permitted discharges to generate or purchase pollution reduction credits from another source. The premise of the water quality trading program is that:

  1. Facility A, for example, a wastewater treatment plant, needs to meet nutrient limits for its water quality permit and therefore water quality trading is one option
  2. To reduce nutrients in the watershed, Facility A pays Farmer B to do a variety of things, for instance, reduce fertilizer user, plant stream side buffers with trees or keep livestock manure from getting into the waterways, with each conservation practice verified
  3. Nutrient reductions are quantified as credits, for example, equal to one pound of nutrient reduction. Credits are then reviewed and approved by a regulatory agency
  4. Facility A can then use those credits to meet permit requirements.

Estas son solo dos de varias iniciativas encaradas a la gestión de la demanda de agua. Un camino de largo recorrido dentro del nuevo paradigma del siglo XXI.

· The Water-Energy-Food Nexus

· Reducing Water-Food Nexus Pressures

· Can ‘nexus thinking’ alleviate global water, food and energy pressures?

· Considering the energy, water and food nexus: Towards an integrated modelling approach

This post is also available in: caCatalà (Catalán)

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