Editorial: Achieving Water-Energy-Food Nexus Sustainability: A Science and Data Need or a Need for Integrated Public Policy?

Rabi Mohtar, Richard George Lawford, Jill A. Engel-Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


The benefits of addressing the water, energy, and food sectors in an integrated manner is gaining significant recognition. An integrated approach can provide improved resource use efficiencies, more coherent environmental policies, and an overall strategy for achieving sustainability in the three sectors, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2 (Food), 6 (Water), and 7 (Energy). Societies are concerned with ensuring food security, avoiding wars over water, and creating opportunity by ensuring access to energy. To be effective, however, this approach needs to be adopted at all levels of societies including government, private and civil society and reinforced by management and planning methods. This special issue identifies different approaches that are either being conceptualized or tested to support the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach. The articles contribute to answering the question, “Is achieving Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus Sustainability a science and data need or an integrated public policy need?” In either case, both natural and social sciences will need to combine to support science issues or integrated policy issues. The papers explore the ways in which science, data, and policy development could help to define integrative principles and policies for the three sectors. This approach could expand beyond the water, energy, and food sectors to include health, environment, trade, commerce, and international assistance thereby providing broad support to the SDGs. Moreover, this issue demonstrates that data combined with new technologies (tools and models) can support better decision-making when adopted by governments and the sectors.
Original languageAmerican English
Article number132
Number of pages5
JournalFrontiers in Environmental Science
Issue number132
StatePublished - 28 Aug 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A50-76767


  • environmental policy
  • future sustainability
  • global change
  • water
  • water-energy-food nexus


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