Harry K. Hoffmann, Klas Sander, Michael Brüntrup, Stefan Sieber · 2017
Frontiers in Environmental Science · Frontiers in Environmental Science

Applying the Water-Energy-Food Nexus to the Charcoal Value Chain

Globally, natural resources are increasingly under pressure, especially due to population growth, economic growth and transformation as well as climate change. As a result, the water, energy, and food (WEF) nexus approach has emerged to understand interdependencies and commonly manage resources within a multi-scale and multi-level framework. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the high and growing consumption of traditional biomass for cooking purposes - notably fuelwood and charcoal—is both a key source of energy and contributor for food security as well as a pressure on natural resources. Improving the bioenergy value chains is essential for limiting environmental degradation and for securing the livelihoods of millions of people. Although the WEF nexus approach entails large potential to address the complex problems arising along the bioenergy value chains, these are currently not considered. Based on the WEF nexus approach, we analyze the different steps within the charcoal value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa and highlight the respective interdependencies and the potential for improving overall socio-economic and environmental sustainability. We emphasize the water, energy and food related implications of vicious and virtuous production cycles, separated by value chain segments. We discuss the potential and major challenges for implementing more sustainable value chains. Furthermore, we underline the necessity of applying WEF nexus approaches to these value chains in order to optimize environmental and social outcomes.

Full publication is available on: DOI 10.3389/fenvs.2017.00084

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Michael Brüntrup

Michael Brüntrup
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Michael Brüntrup is an agricultural engineer and holds a PhD in agricultural economics. After some year in academics and as a freelance consultant, he works at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) since 2003. His interests cover topics related to agriculture and rural development, trade policy and food security with a geographical focus on Subsahara Africa. He has worked on several agricultural value chains including cotton, wood, sugar and biofuels, on agricultural and microfinance, large scale land acquisitions and large scale agro-industries and their relations with smallholder farmers and rural areas. More recently, he focuses on integrated food security and resilience against crises in rural areas, particularly on drought policies and strategies.

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