Assessing sustainable development pathways for water, food, and energy security in a transboundary river basin

Palazzo, A. ORCID:, Kahil, T. ORCID:, Willaarts, B. ORCID:, Burek, P. ORCID:, van Dijk, M., Tang, T. ORCID:, Magnuszewski, P., Havlík, P. ORCID:, et al. (2024). Assessing sustainable development pathways for water, food, and energy security in a transboundary river basin. Environmental Development e101030. 10.1016/j.envdev.2024.101030. (In Press)

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Project: Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy, and Land (ISWEL)


Worldwide hundreds of millions of people suffer from water, food and energy insecurity in transboundary river basins, such as the Zambezi River Basin. The interconnected nature of nexus is often not recognized in investment planning and many regional policymakers lack adequate tools to tackle it. Future growing demands and climate change add an additional challenge. In this study, we combine policy relevant co-developed stakeholder scenarios and integrated nexus modeling tools to identify key solutions to achieve sustainable development in the Zambezi. Results show that siloed development without coordination achieves the least economic and social benefits in the long term. Prioritizing economic benefits by maximizing the use of available natural resources results in the expansion of irrigated areas by more than a million hectares and increase in hydropower production by 22,000 GWh/year in the coming decades, bringing significant economic benefits, up to $12.4 billion per year, but causes local water scarcity and negative impacts on the environment. Combining environmental protection policies with sustainable investments of $7.2 billion per year (e.g. groundwater pumping and wastewater treatment and reuse, irrigation efficiency improvements, and farmer support aimed to improve food security and productivity) results in significantly higher social benefits with economic benefits that still reach $11.3 billion per year.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: water-energy-land; food security nexus; sustainable development; integrated modeling
Research Programs: Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Integrated Biosphere Futures (IBF)
Biodiversity and Natural Resources (BNR) > Water Security (WAT)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Equity and Justice (EQU)
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Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2024 08:58
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2024 08:58

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