Meeting human aspirations in an increasingly resource limited world and in the perspective of a changing climate, requires that resources are used prudently and equitably. Many low income countries are currently undergoing rapid economic development commonly fuelled by two processes: agricultural transformation and energy transitions, which in combination with population growth, changing consumption patterns, and climate change, result in additional pressures manifested in resource degradation.
Sustainable energy transition entails shifting away from traditional biomass use, while at the same time meeting climate change mitigation targets. Developing modern bioenergy and hydropower are potential options, requiring both water and land. Similarly, sustainable agricultural transformation will require higher energy and water inputs to improve productivity. Upstream water-withdrawals for irrigation may reduce water availability for hydropower generation and ecosystems. At the same time, the agricultural sector will need to adapt to a changing climate in particular focusing on water management to bridge more frequent droughts.
The need for transformation is urgent. Current resources use is inefficient and hampers agricultural productivity, threatens biodiversity and in the long-term restrains economic development. It is clear that these processes are partly synergetic and partly competitive, in terms of both water and land use. This complexity needs to be addressed in dialogue with multi-stakeholder groups and under-pinned by rigorous quantitative assessments of resources demand, availability and the inter-linkages between sectors, to support planning and policy-making processes, and to guide investments in new innovations.