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Focus Areas

Food-Energy-Water Nexus

Providing access to sufficient, safe, and secure food, energy, and water is a critical challenge threatening the human condition globally

Providing access to sufficient, safe, and secure food, energy, and water is a critical challenge threatening the human condition globally. The food, energy, and water (FEW) nexus refers to our highly interconnected need for water and energy to grow food, water and food waste to produce energy, and energy to supply clean water and safe foods.

Recognizing that the FEW nexus is highly connected and interdependent, RTI takes an integrated approach to addressing FEW nexus challenges. We lead evidence-based, and client-focused research and programs at local, national, and global scales. Our work supports governments, the private sector, academic institutions, and other clients to make informed decisions, strengthen management of natural resources, improve environmental health outcomes, and ultimately build a more resilient and sustainable future.

RTI’s cross-disciplinary teams include experts in:

  • international resource governance and international development
  • natural resource management
  • environmental engineering, health, and economics
  • risk-based decision analysis
  • watershed hydrology
  • food safety and security
  • climate change
  • energy technology development
  • community engagement analytical chemistry

Examples of our FEW nexus work includes:

  • Understanding the crop health and human health impacts associated with the use of oilfield produced water as an alternative source for crop irrigation in drought-stricken areas of California
  • Illustrating how robust hydro-economic modeling frameworks improve water allocation decisions by jointly simulating natural water supply and water demand systems and interactions associated with irrigated agriculture, hydropower, and urbanization
  • Understanding and advancing FEW nexus research in Guatemala related to energy poverty, water allocation in agriculture and urban areas, and water quality
  • Evaluating the future baseline for energy and water sector development in the Philippines, conducting scenario analysis of alternative future development pathways, and estimating water-energy-food carbon tradeoffs associated with alternative energy and water management strategies. 

In the FEW nexus, RTI is committed to evidence-based research around system safety, security, equity, and allocation that supports informed decision making and effective solutions to natural resource pressures, economic uncertainty, and geopolitical instability.