Raise your voice for a secure and sustainable supply of food, energy and water
The report, The Food Energy Water Nexus: Understanding South Africa’s Most Urgent Sustainability Challenge cautions that without an integrated approach to these three sectors, a flourishing economy will not be possible.
“The report supports the theme for World Environment Day which calls on people to ‘raise your voice, not the sea level’. Our continued dependence on fossil fuel as an energy source contributes to climate change which not only raises the sea level, putting small island states at risk, but in southern Africa causes droughts. The result is massive risk to our food supply and growing levels of hunger in our already food insecure nation,” explains WWF-SA’sTatjana von Bormann, who co-authored the report with WWF-SA’s Manisha Gulati.
“This report demonstrates that mitigating and adapting to climate change requires a coordinated approach in terms of energy, water and food security. The latest IPCC findings demonstrated that the impact of climate change, and the resultant extreme weather events, on crops have been underestimated. Here in South Africa the implications are an increased dependency on imports, higher prices and, consequently, less food security.”
“A global average of 2˚C temperature rise will filter down into quite a significant impact for Africa – a 3˚C to 4˚C increase. As the rate of change is faster it is harder for systems to respond leaving South Africa particularly vulnerable. The more we develop along traditional routes without considering the interconnections and trade-offs in natural resources, the more climate change impacts we will suffer.”
According to the WWF report, adapting our food systems to climate change requires increased investment in adaptation and an urgent and dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to get our country onto a low carbon pathway and meaningful climate change commitments are inherently based in nexus thinking food, energy, water,” says Gulati.
“World Environment Day is an excellent time to consider our individual responsibilities. For starters we need to consciously recognise the links in all the small things that we’ve been encouraged to do – turn off the lights, use water sparingly, don’t waste food – each one of these positive actions contributes to the security of supply of electricity, clean water and food. It’s also about ‘raising your voice’, which means being an active citizen and claiming your constitutional rights; hold local government to account, expect the necessary infrastructure investment and policy enforcement for a dependable municipal water and sustainable low carbon electricity supply.”
“Taking effective action to limit climate change is entirely possible. Relatively affordable technological solutions already exist in the form of more efficient energy systems which have positive knock on affects for food and water. But even if we do solve the climate change challenge we are not going to solve the ecological footprint challenge – the food and water component of the nexus – these are much more challenging as there are few technological solutions. The solution is in managed demand, reduced consumption and new ecologically connected behaviour patterns. This is why WWF believes that the FEW nexus is the key sustainability challenge for the nation and its people.”