PUBLISHED: 22 July 2013

Water Energy Food Nexus

The Water-Energy-Food Nexus is an emerging concept that requires finding the balance between water, energy and food. The Assessment of Virtual Waterflows and the Water Footprint are two projects that reflect this concept however, much more research can be done. We look forward to future research that will help advance this topic. 

Virtual Waterflows

Virtual water is the amount of water that is embedded in food or other products needed for its production. On average, Alberta exported 5,083 m3 of virtual water (per person per year) through net food exports of crop and livestock products. This was almost 2.5 times higher than the average water footprint in Canada. Domestic production of crop and livestock products was mainly used for food exports to other countries. Wheat, beef and canola were the three major products contributing to net virtual water exports, and combined they accounted for over 99% of total net virtual water exports from Alberta.

Water Footprint

People use lots of water for drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, etc. The Water Footprint is an indicator of water use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.