Bianca Shevlin: Water and Energy - Interlinked and Interdependent

Photo: SABMiller


By Bianca Shevlin, Media Relations Manager - Sustainable Development, SABMiller


The theme of this year’s World Water Day is ‘Water & Energy’, highlighting the fact that the two resources are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, whilst about 8% of global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers.


A third element that needs to be considered in the context of resource interdependency is food security, making up the water-food-energy ‘nexus’. Agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater consumption and 30% of energy consumption globally.


For businesses - particularly those highly dependent on natural resources like water - using a nexus approach  is critical to identify interventions that will have a meaningful impact on energy and water conservation, will minimise the environmental impact of operations and also manage water risk to the business. Applying nexus thinking can also identify opportunities to have a positive effect, such as promoting biodiversity – but also finding cost savings through improved efficiencies.


For businesses with an agricultural supply chain, nexus thinking is even more important. Outside of our breweries, SABMiller requires high quality agricultural crops for making beer. We were one of the first companies to produce a full value chain water footprint, which showed that over 90% of the water in beer is used to grow the crops, like barley, and some of that water comes from irrigation.


We’ve produced this animation which looks at the complex challenge of balancing resource management with the need for productive agriculture.

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