Hidden Vulnerabilities in the Water-Energy-Land-Food (WELF) Nexus



There is growing concern that traditional assessments focused on water resources alone ignore vulnerabilities related to water’s connections to food, energy, and land. The international trade in food includes embedded water, sometimes with unintended consequences. Water problems may appear in unexpected forms because of these interdependencies. The production of energy requires large volumes of water for cooling and turning turbines. Water shortages and disruptions from water-related events can interrupt power supplies with significant ramifications for the economy and society. Failure to account for the water consequences of land use decisions results in a governance gap between the land and water sectors. Vulnerabilities can occur in surprising and exaggerated ways in the water, energy, food, and land (WELF) systems that dominate today’s complex resource systems.


Interrupted Power Supply Water Footprint Virtual Water South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP) North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 
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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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