Mapping Global Resource Fragility: The Water-Energy-Food Environment Nexus | Imperial News


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has partnered with the Center for Environmental Policy to map fragility linked to natural resources.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has partnered with the Center for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London on an ambitious project as part of the Building Forward Better initiative to develop a natural resource fragility mapping tool. , global fragility based on integrating the availability of natural resources with future technological and environmental challenges.

FAO’s Building for the Better initiative

The Building Better for Tomorrow initiative stems from the recognition of the importance of investing in human capital in fragile contexts. It aims to address the loss of human capacity caused by fragility in countries facing the need to improve the management of natural resources, strengthen national institutions and boost human capital to increase agricultural productivity, improve security food and progress towards the SDGs.

As part of the Initiative, a mapping tool is planned for the definition and visual assessment of the “fragility of natural resources”, in order to guide decisions on geographical and thematic areas of intervention. The development of “fragility maps” will not only visualize vulnerable areas, but will also identify root causes, thereby outlining clear investment opportunities to foster healthier and more sustainable ecosystems.

Fragility of natural resources

From climatic hazards to man-made disasters, from the depletion of the planet’s resources to toxic waste, the world faces an ever-increasing number of challenges that are transforming countries and communities into fragile states. Poor people in developing countries are particularly dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services for their livelihoods and increasingly live in areas of high ecological vulnerability and relatively low levels of resource productivity. The position of the poor at these ecological margins, together with a low level of access and rights over productive natural resources, is a major factor contributing to poverty, jeopardizing sustainable development efforts and the capacity of local communities. most vulnerable on the planet to face global pressures on their own water, energy and food security.

Assessing a state’s fragility related to natural resources can offer evidence to guide decisions on geographic and thematic areas of policies and international instruments that promote sustainable development and address climate change and environmental degradation. environment, including relevant Sustainable Development Goals. This is why the team led by Professor Nick Voulvoulis is taking an innovative approach to integrating water, energy and food systems to develop a tool to measure resource fragility and support the sustainable development of developing countries through green and responsible investments.

Professor Nick Voulvoulis says:

“Currently, global figures on access to water, energy and food hide major regional variations and a series of locally significant imbalances between demand and supply. This could fall disproportionately on poorer nations. To support development efforts, we need to outline clear investment opportunities based on scientifically-developed needs that foster healthier human-nature relationships.”

Maher Salman, Senior Land and Water Officer at FAO, explains:

“FAO, as the principal UN agency working to promote food security and end hunger, recognizes the critical importance of fostering sustainable agrifood systems, to support countries affected by socio- adverse economic and environmental conditions. With increasing pressure on resources from global population growth and climate change, the gap may widen between the most vulnerable and least vulnerable human and natural systems. It is time to clearly identify drivers of fragility and helping livelihoods emerge from a state of fragility”

The project aims to develop fragility indicators by applying a Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach and integrating environmental resources, climate risks and future technologies. The results will be used to design a tool to help stakeholders identify the critical axis of fragility to mitigate present and future risks.”


  • the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (CAM) is a specialized agency from The United Nations who leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food safety. The FAO is made up of 197 members. It is headquartered in Rome, Italy, and has regional and field offices around the world, operating in over 130 countries. It helps governments and development agencies coordinate their activities to improve and develop agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and land and water resources. It also conducts research, provides technical assistance to projects, runs education and training programs, and collects data on agricultural production, production, and development.
  • The Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) in Imperial College London, conducts basic and applied research in environmental sustainability, being among the world’s top ten universities with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. The Center is a unique interdisciplinary department of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and works on the interface between science and technology and the economic and political context in which it is developed and applied. Research at the Center addresses a wide range of environmental topics with a focus on informing public policy and ensuring that commitments made by government, business and civil society to mitigate human impact on nature and natural resources can be respected. CEP provides the ideal platform to engage with key stakeholders and ensures that the next generation of students will make significant societal contributions to solving environmental challenges and producing evidence-based, effective and just environmental policies. .

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