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Integrated resource policies for energy and water resources, with case studies of China and the UK

Because of economic development, increasing global population, and increased levels of affluence, future global demands for food, energy and water resources are expected to increase by 50%, 50% and
30% respectively (Beddington, 2009). However, with the world’s food, energy and water resources already experiencing shortfalls and stresses (Bizikova et al., 2013), there is an urgent need for nexus-oriented approaches to address unsustainable patterns of growth. The importance of these three resources has been highlighted in many publications, and they have been included in the Sustainable Development goals, which are to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy, and the achievement of food security and sustainable agriculture.

Water, energy and land resources are all interconnected and should not be viewed in isolation. Agriculture and industry (including energy) account for 70% and 22% of global water withdrawals respectively (Howells et al., 2013); 7% of all energy is used for water supply; and 4% of energy is directly used in agriculture (Bazilian et al., 2011). The need for integrated resource planning for
energy, water and land is becoming increasingly recognised by international institutions, national governments and businesses (Hoff, 2001). A policy that affects one resource can result in unexpected
consequences for another. There is a need for policy makers, institutions and businesses to understand better the connections between these resources and to integrate them in future plans for a sustainable future. To be able to achieve this, the UN and other institutions should promote holistic analysis of the interconnections between resources.

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