Food and Water Security (5-3-19)



Some kinds of security (Military/Intelligence) are relatively isolated from a wider ecology of problems;

other forms of security are precisely relevant to security because they are one element in a network of securities.


Insecurity in one arena produces insecurities in another.


But in the case of non-military/intelligence security what are the forms and senses of security - at the level of how we live - that may be

put into jeopardy if one or more of those arena are hit by catastrophe or even just shortage.


Buzan (1991, p. 38) ‘Environmental security concerns the maintenance of the local and the planetary biosphere as the essential support system on which all other human enterprises depend.’




Extraordinary forms of life (highly stressed)


Ordinary forms of life that become stressed


With what upshot?....


"As global food production has become a business of scale, waste – when food is lost either before reaching

consumers or is wasted by them – has been an emerging food-security challenge. Also, rising food prices

can threaten human security and political stability via protests and riots." (Scott et al. 2018)




Insecurity - what definition would you use?


Where does it start?


How little disruption is needed before insecurity kicks in


What form does it take?


Should it always be defined in terms of material conditions and consequences?



Historical conditions of Material (in-) Security:


Two devastating world wars,


accumulating population growth,


rising urbanization,


accelerated climate change, and other problems


have affected human security worldwide.


Meeting these security concerns requires adequate amounts of and access to critical resources such as food, water and energy.


By 2050, for instance, UN Water (2015) projects that global food production will increase about 60%, which will require 45% more energy and 30% more water.




Historical Conditions of Government and NGO/Agencies awareness:


1945, based on previous League of Nations initiatives, the UN established the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),

where food security became an international humanitarian goal and a national-planning priority.


Sir John Boyd Orr, FAOs first director-general, proposed (unsuccessfully) a World Food Board to end hunger


In 1957, FAO launched a public-awareness campaign that spawned the World Food Programme to deal with food crises.


The first World Food Conference (1974) adopted 20 resolutions to eradicate hunger, and two years later, a new FAO D-G helped

activate the concept of food security(access to food by the poor) and established a World Food Council to coordinate efforts.


Other UN agencies joined the effort. In 1976, the International Labour Organization coined the term ‘basic needs’;


1986 World Bank study distinguished between transitory and chronic food insecurity


1988 the International Food Policy Research Institute analyzed the effects of food subsidies in developing countries;


1998 Amartya Sen’s introduction of ‘food entitlement’





Historical conditions of Public awareness and concern:


Food, energy, and subsequently, water security constructs – each with a historical and institutional logic.


Food-security concerns surfaced early, particularly in the second half of the twentieth century, in response to civil

strife and political instability, uneven income distribution, population growth, lack of credit and capital, distribution and

storage problems, and perhaps most significantly, weak institutions and ineffective governance.


Interest in energy security emerged on the international stage in the 1970s, prompted by increasingly globalized markets, heightened

demand for energy, excessive reliance on fossil fuels, uneven distribution of energy resources, lack of capital, mismanagement of

oil and gas supplies, and perhaps most notably, cartelist supply of petroleum.


Water security was the latest entrant, emerging now in the early twenty-first century as a clearly recognized global resource-security

challenge, even though water scarcity and competition, quality degradation and flooding are centuries-old challenges.





The interconnections between physio-ecological processes and the human dimensions of security were recognized by

the United Nations Development Programme in the mid-1990s.



Food production, for instance, is responsible for significant changes in freshwater supplies

while energy security is fundamental to food and water security because these sectors increasingly rely on

uninterrupted energy supply.


Further, water is needed to produce food; current production practices and irrigation technology make the

agricultural sector the worlds largest water user. In extreme instances, competition for resources especially

non-renewable ones has led to open conflict.



The water-energy-food (WEF) nexus was developed in in response to a worldwide food and economic crisis.


The nexus refers to the interrelationships and mutual interdependence of water resources for food and

energy production; energy requirements for water management, agriculture, and food processing and transportation;

and food trade-offs associated with alternate water or energy allocations



Complex, dynamic, interlinked earth systems provide resources, are the source of multiple drivers and stressors, and

are affected by, but exist independent of, human actions.


Earth systems approaches advanced by de Grenade et al. (2016) places particular emphasis on the ecological, hydrological

and climate system dynamics that underpin societal use of water, energy and food resources.


Earth systems are complex, interrelated, and difficult to understand in isolation, much less in context.

When human-driven forces cause changes in not one aspect but multiple phases of the system simultaneously,

the resulting changes may prove beyond the limits of adaptation for many living species.


Earth system resilience considers geologic, biologic and atmospheric processes in relation to human adaptation.




Food Security

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life"


Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2016)



1st wave prob: starvation in 18th c - fluctuating food prices' famines etc - but nd Rev saw production rise and far less hunger etc.


2nd wave: concerns of over population growth and thus need to feed the world etc and gradual reduction of birth rate


Third wave of food-insecurity challenges, triggered by a food-price crisis and worries about complex dependencies of food security on dynamic

earth system processes – rising temperatures, droughts, coastal inundations, and soil depletion and degradation.


These concerns are sharpened by:


a)  continuing population growth,


b) higher per capita consumption,


c) changes in dietary preferences in developing and developed nations alike

(increased consumption of meat, with its significantly higher water and energy footprints compared to grains and vegetables),


d) increase of waste,


e) and growing limitation of arable land,


f) as well as climate-change-induced shifts in production zones and


g) variability in agricultural productivity.



Sufficient resources and capabilities exist to end hunger globally, yet over a billion people (15% of the world’s population) continue to lack access to sufficient food




Energy Security



Since the Industrial Revolution, economies and societies have depended highly on fossil-fuel energy, whose sources are concentrated in certain geographic regions. As a result, energy is arguably the resource most immediate to national-security interests


World War I, navies were shifting from domestically produced coal to imported petroleum, rendering them vulnerable to supply interruptions caused by

attacks on oilfields, transportation lines, and refineries


After World War II – because of the rise of consumer automobiles and the need to generate electricity for heating, manufacturing, food production and health care –

addiction to oil grew markedly.


After the end of colonialism, newly independent nations began exporting petroleum, sometimes as a chief source of revenue. This

practice poses a risk to political stability and generates energy security concerns in the countries dependent on imports. In 1973,

an oil embargo by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) members dominated by Arabian countries, caused massive price increases.



The 1979 Iranian revolution brought additional price rises, further elevating energy security concerns. The 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait caused another

energy-price crisis. Since then, OPEC members’ power to influence prices has diminished, while over the same period, newly exploited sources of petroleum

accompanied by a shift to other energy sources such as natural gas and nuclear energy has reduced costs.


Peak Oil concerns.


'Portfolio management' and diversification versus single energy dependency



EU report (2013) on Energy diversification as a fundamental contribution to sustainable development


Worldwide, oil remains the most consumed fuel (33% of the total primary energy), followed by coal (30%), natural gas (24%), hydropower (6%), nuclear energy (5%) and other renewable energies (2%).22Global electricity generation is growing rapidly, mainly from fossil fuels (coal 40%, natural gas 21% and oil 5%), while nuclear sector provides about 13% and renewable sources deliver about 20%.




Economics of Energy Security - neo-liberal markets or Regulation?

Bearing in mind climate objectives, social needs and the ambition to “green” the economy, huge effortswill be necessary to ensure more sustainable production and use of energy. On the one hand, large-scale overhaul of infrastructures (for energy, habitats, transport, industrial facilities, etc.) is needed to either renew or adapt them to more efficient performance. The fruits of research and innovation will have to be fed-in steadily into the systems to facilitate this quality leap towards less energy-dependent development. On the other hand, more structured regulatory guidance and long-term interest of society have to orient stakeholders and accompany the change. This means shared responsibility by the private sector, public authorities and civil society to make the shift happen.




Regional Energy Insecurity: Human and economic development over the last 150 years has made the world addict to energy consumption. Energy use has been increasing at a steady average rate of 2.3% per year for the entire range of primary energy sources. Estimates are that the world primary energy demand could further increase by more than 30% by 2035, with the developing countries gradually diverting energy supplies away from Europe. For European countries, higher demand for electricity (up from 20% of energy supply now to 40% by 2050) will play a significant role.




Energy Poverty

"The Assembly is deeply concerned about the problem of energy poverty which affects at least 1.5 billion people worldwide who have no access to electricity and up to 32% of the population in different European countries that faces more or less severe energy deprivation."


The highest rates of energy poverty are prevalent in Eastern and Southern Europe, where certain population groups, such as pensioners and the unemployed, are particularly vulnerable. Surveys show that energy poverty is a growing problem across Europe and that it will further escalate in coming years as a result of expected increases in energy price and largely stagnant household income




Good paper on Energy sustainability in the ASEAN states: ASEAN Energy Security: An indicator-based assessment Kanchanaa & Unesak



And another: Water Security Challenges of South and South East Asia: Mainstreaming Local Governance Institutions

P.K. Viswa nathan & Chandra Sekhar Bahinipa ti


Summary: Water security is an increasingly important development issue in Asia and the Pacific regions,

where growing populations and rapid urbanization have expanded demand and competition for, as

well as driven reallocation of the finite water resources. The demand pattern for water is changing

with an increasing proportion of water being used in the industrial and domestic sectors, concurrently

with proportional reduction in water use in the agricultural sector. The relative and absolute increase

in the urban population means that more food will need to be produced by fewer people in the

agricultural sector in future and likely with more intensive farming practices, which highlights the

need to improve efficiency in water use as well. The water security scenario in the case of South and

South East Asian countries needs to be examined in terms of the shear lack of access to quality water

as well as improved sanitation facilities both in the rural as well as urban areas.


In the context of the growing concerns of increasing water security in the larger Asian,

especially South and South East Asian (S&SEA) context, this paper examines the major water

security challenges as well vulnerability of the countries in the region towards water-scarcity

induced problems. In fact, the water security concerns in the S&SEA region emerge from a host

of factors that are attributed to growing populations, urbanization, industrial development and the

nascent climate change induced threats. It is apparent that all these factors continue to remain quite

virulent in the future as well despite earnest efforts among individual countries to overcome many

of these developmental issues through appropriate policies as well as adaptation and mitigation

strategies. Given this, it may be quite relevant to examine some of the important emerging

challenges that will have potential implications for ensuring water security in the region.





Inter-connectivity of Energy and Climate change:


Climate change has a strong potential to affect energy availability and therefore energy security.


Extended droughts and rising temperatures can reduce snowpack,


which in turn reduces the volume of water available for hydropower.


Less directly, but as importantly, high temperatures raise demand for power such as for air conditioning and cooling systems,

especially in urban settings.


And climate-change-induced extreme heat and aridity, as well as tropical storms and flooding, can disrupt electric transmission,

pipeline transport, and vehicular conveyance of energy materials.


At the opposite extreme, some areas may experience severe flooding or coastal sea level rises;

these phenomena also can require surges of energy use and are capable of disrupting grids and provisioning networks.





Water Insecurity



Global Water Partnership (GWP, 2000, p. 12) as a goal in which every person has access to enough safe water at

affordable cost to lead a clean, healthy and productive life, while ensuring that the natural  environment is protected and enhanced.


The term has captured the attention of numerous international organizations: Asia-Pacific Water Forum, UNESCO and UN Water


More than food and energy security, water security has an intrinsic duality:

water can be considered both as productive (a resource) and as destructive (a hazard)




water as a ubiquitous resource – even though unevenly distributed across regions and over time – is fundamental to human quality of life and ecosystem processes.


Multiple sources of water (surface water, groundwater, reclaimed water, desalinated water, etc.), often not substitutable in the same way energy is – consider electricity vs. fuel for heating or transportation, or gas replacing or complementing petroleum in the current fracking boom.


And food, too, takes many forms of resource provisioning – crop agriculture, agro-forestry, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, among others. The substitutability and diversification options for water resources remain more limited, in part due to real constraints on long-distance conveyance of water.


It is clear that water is a more basic input to energy generation and food production and provisioning than either of the other two resources

is for water use and management, even though energy dependence for water security is a rapidly growing concern.


Thus, the pursuit of water security is first and foremost approximate, local challenge, even though the institutions for water management are often established and operate at regional and national scales, with global influences.


Second, the institutions for water governance tend to be more deeply rooted in the public domain, with access to water defined in administrative, regulatory and legal terms.


In contrast, energy production and supply – even the pursuit of energy security – are highly commercial endeavours by both private-sector and public-utility interests. This is also increasingly the case for food production, with such features as commodity chains, supply and distribution of inputs, marketing and profits increasingly dominated by mega-scale agri-businesses, many of them global in their scope, reach and impacts.


Private, commercially oriented actors must turn to public institutions that regulate access to water resources, allocate and oversee water rights, enforce water quality and ecological guidelines, and are the ultimate recourse to disaster relief in the case of drought and flood. Often these functions are beyond the institutional capability of public institutions charged to deliver



Dependency of Energy and food on Water:


demand for water-intensive food products, such as cereal grains and meat, is rising rapidly. Water supply, not arable land, is expected to be the key limiting factor in global food security


water supplies can support energy production by making more water available for electrical plant cooling water used for thermoelectric cooling made up 45% of all

water withdrawals in the US in 2010



"areas experiencing water scarcity, particularly arid and semi-arid environments, easily accessible sources, such as surface water and rainfall, are already fully

utilized and sometimes even overallocated. To increase supplies, these areas must develop less accessible sources of water, such as groundwater and desalinated water,

or transport water over long distances. However, groundwater extraction requires energy for pumping, as shallow groundwater sources are being used to capacity;

expanding groundwater supplies often leads to the need for deeper wells or to developing brackish-water repositories, which require more energy to install and operate.

Long-distance water conveyance and desalination are both expensive and energy intensive..." (Scott, 2018)






Political Problems of Trans-boundary rivers/water supplies - and Sovereignty.




Excellent link to TWAP graphics









Too  much or too little water - not always man-made:


Mismanagement of water supplies – for example, over-extraction and long-distance transfer of groundwater – can make it difficult to meet water

demands even where water is not physically scarce.


Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of precipitation extremes, such as floods and droughts, both of which impact water and food security, particularly in cities. For example, when combined sewer systems overflow (as a consequence of severe storm events), water resources can become polluted. This may require end-of-pipe water treatment plants – which consume additional energy – before runoff reaches rivers and lakes.



In the Himalayan mid-hills, where the number of small hydropower facilities has rapidly grown in mountain basins to capture renewable energy, extreme flooding can disrupt energy production by damaging hydropower facilities through sediment clogging, and destroy irrigation piping for rural villages



The complex interplay of scarcity; over-production and Economics:


"The complex trade-offs among water, energy and food require integrated policy to achieve optimized outcomes in all sectors, not just one. Often, challenges of water policy and governance have more significant impacts on water resource availability than actual resource scarcity. For instance, economic water scarcity can occur due to poor water management. India relies heavily on groundwater for irrigation, extracting some 230 billion m3 each year to supplement irrigation of 45 million hectares


Irrigators throughout western India rely on groundwater, due to its local availability. Initial groundwater declines, due to high withdrawal rates

and an expansion of food production, caused drilling and pumping energy demands to increase, due to the greater depths needed to reach groundwater.


To increase water access and improve agricultural productivity, government-supported electricity subsidies were put in place in the mid-1970s. But the energy subsidies caused significant depletion of groundwater aquifers by facilitating overuse.


Over-extraction of groundwater results in lower aquifer levels, after which groundwater pumping requires more energy to lift water from greater depths. Irrigation accounts for approximately one-fifth of total electricity use in India.


While initially, electricity subsidies improved food security, in the long term, they created a cycle of groundwater depletion and increased energy demand, which nearly bankrupted the power sector in India" (Scott 2018)





Resource Insecurity and Terrorism


In 1941, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote,


“It has long been recognized that among public utilities, water supply facilities

offer a particularly vulnerable point of attack to the foreign agent, due to the strategic position

they occupy in keeping the wheels of industry turning and in preserving the health and morale of

the American populace.”



Water infrastructure systems are highly linked with other infrastructure systems, especially electric power

and transportation, as well as the chemical industry which supplies treatment chemicals, making security

of all of them an issue of concern.



9/11 has drawn attention to the security of many institutions, facilities, and systems including the water supply

and water quality infrastructure. These systems have long been recognized as being potentially vulnerable to

terrorist attacks of  various types, including physical disruption, bioterrorism/chemical contamination, and cyber

attack. Damage or destruction by terrorist attack could disrupt the delivery of vital human services in this country,

threatening public health and the environment, or possibly causing loss of life. Further, since most water infrastructure

is government-owned, it may serve as a symbolic and political target for some.


Physical destruction to any of these systems could include disruption of operating or distribution system components,

power or telecommunications systems, electronic control systems, and actual damage to reservoirs and pumping stations.


Destruction of a large dam could result in catastrophic flooding and loss of life.


Bioterrorism or chemical attacks could deliver widespread contamination with small amounts of

microbiological agents or toxic chemicals, and could endanger the public health of thousands.


Factors that are relevant to a biological agent’s potential as a weapon include its stability in a drinking water system,

virulence, and resistance to detection and treatment.


Cyber attacks on computer operations can affect an entire infrastructure network, and hacking in water utility systems

could result in theft or corruption of information, or denial and disruption of service.