A nexus approach to energy, water, and food security policy making in India

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Prompted by the rising concerns about the security of Energy-Water-Food (EWF) – innate human needs – and premised upon the contention about the siloedness, and hence inadequacy, of current policy approaches to redress EWF security – this research examines the efficacy of EWF nexus-informed policy-approach for redressing EWF security in the context of India – a country whose future prosperity is critically dependent on the provision of adequate quantities of EWF, at affordable prices and by sustainable means. To achieve this objective this research has developed an EWF-extended Input-Output framework (model), supported by flexible production functions to accommodate price-induced input substitution possibilities. This framework is employed in this research to examine the impacts – in terms of selected attributes for EWF security, economic, social and environmental outcomes, over the period 2015-2047 – of (five) alternative policy pathways (scenarios). These scenarios include: Business-as-Usual (BAU), Energy Security (ES), Water Security (WS), Food Security (FS), and EWF-Nexus-oriented (Nexus). Each scenario represents specific policy emphasis (e.g., ES scenario, on improving energy security; WS - water security, FS - food security, and Nexus - joint EWF security). Accordingly, each scenario is supported by a range of emphasis-relevant technologies and strategic measures to achieve its policy objective. The analysis in this research presents a rather insightful array of indications about EWF security, economic, social and environmental outcomes – over the short, medium, and long-term. For example, the ES scenario, while producing best energy security and economic outcomes in the long-term, is likely produce considerably worsened water security throughout the study period; and yield worst environmental outcomes in the short and medium-term. The FS scenario – while producing consistently superior food security outcomes, also produces the best water security outcomes in the short-term, and worst energy security outcomes in all time periods. The WS scenario, while producing considerably improved water security in the long-term, is likely to produce worst economic outcomes throughout the study period. Overall, the Nexus scenario produces the best joint EWF security outcomes, and considerably superior economic, social and environmental outcomes. These insights – especially cross-sectoral (e.g., energy, water, food), cross-domain (security, economic, social, environmental), and temporal (short, medium and long-term) trade-offs – should provide the Indian policy-makers a robust platform for engendering policy debate and making appropriate policy choices for redressing the EWF security challenge, and for other pressing challenges underscored by multiplicity of interdependencies. Therein resides the significance of this research – it is argued.
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