Most governments have separate agencies to oversee water, energy, and agricultural food production, and they set policies and plan for each sector separately. The same is true of research on these issues: expertise on energy, water and land use is clustered in separate groups, with limited interaction.

The nexus approach, which grew out of systems analysis, recognizes that water, energy and food are closely linked, through global and local water, carbon and energy cycles. All three are also essential resources, but billions of people have limited access to them; and all three are under pressure from supply constraints and rapidly growing demand.

SEI’s work on the nexus draws on our expertise in hydrology, agriculture, and water and energy systems analysis, and leverages two powerful SEI-built tools: the Water Evaluation and Planning system (WEAP) and the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system (LEAP). It also builds on SEI’s on-the-ground research on livelihoods, energy access, sanitation and other issues.

This brief, part of a series synthesizing SEI research from 2009 to 2013, presents four key insights from our work, an overview of major projects and publications, and a look at new and ongoing work as well as future research pathways.

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