The global nexus of food–trade–water sustaining environmental flows by 2050

A.V. Pastor*, A. Palazzo, P. Havlik, H. Biemans, Y. Wada, M. Obersteiner, P. Kabat, F. Ludwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


In the face of meeting Sustainable Development Goals for the water–food–energy–ecosystems nexus, integrated assessments are a great means to measure the impact of global change on natural resources. In this study, we evaluate the impact of climate change with the representative concentration pathway 8.5 scenario and the impact of socioeconomics with the shared socioeconomic pathway 2 scenario on land use, water consumption and food trade under four water regulation policy scenarios (invest, exploit, environment and environment+). We used the Global Biosphere Management Model and constrained it with water availability, environmental flow requirements, and water use from agriculture, industry and households (simulated using the Lund–Potsdam–Jena managed Land model, Environmental Policy Integrated Climate model and WaterGap model). Here, we show that an increase in land use by 100 Mha would be required to double food production by 2050, to meet projected food demands. International trade would need to nearly triple to meet future crop demands, with an additional 10–20% trade flow from water-abundant regions to water-scarce regions to sustain environmental flow requirements on a global scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-507
JournalNature Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019


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