GEO logo
         GEOSS Portal Button

GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


Earth Observations for the Water-Energy-Food (W-E-F) Nexus

Activity ID: 90


This Water-Energy-Food (W-E-F) Community Activity supports the GEO 2017-2019 Work Plan and begins to provide links among water and other societal benefit areas. It does this by using Future Earth and the UN framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The W-E-F project is a Future Earth Cluster project that promotes integration across the water, energy, and food sectors using Earth observations, information systems, and new governance approaches.  It also advances the development of datasets, diagnostic tools, data analytics, applications, and indicators that will enable the integration for the W-E-F Nexus to benefit the water, energy, and food SDGs as well as other SDGs that are sensitive to water.  The framework for SDGs, with its associated targets and indicators, has led, for the first time, to the recognition by the global development community of Earth observations as an essential element for their implementation. These opportunities are being elaborated in the development of indicators, where linkages between societal benefits are high on the agenda. This community activity will contribute to this development of linkages in the GEO context by combining water observations with other data sources to create integrated products, including co-designed products, for use by targeted audiences in other sectors, starting with the water, energy, and food goals. This community activity will also contribute to the data and information needs of the Future Earth W-E-F Cluster activity, the Future Earth Food, Energy and Water Knowledge Action Network, and the Sustainable Water Futures Programme (follow-on to the Global Water System Project [GWSP]).

Activities for the period

It is expected that the effort will contribute to the development of a knowledge platform, a W-E-F Community of Practice, and the development of a framework to accommodate Earth observations into a Future Earth research plan on W-E-F issues.  It will also develop a lexicon and tools for analysing stresses in the W-E-F Nexus using different geospatial data bases. Additionally, this effort will develop a plan using Earth observations to monitor the major water-related targets found throughout the SDGs.

In summary, the activity’s specific plans are organized under three sub-activities:

  1. Integrated Information and the Water-Energy-Food (W-E-F) Nexus;
  2. An End-to-End Analysis System for Water-Energy-Food Nexus Studies Uniting an Integrated Typology, Data Compendia Analysis Frameworks (NEXUS-E2E);
  3. Water information in support of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) monitoring frameworks.

Future Plans

  • In addition to the process of individual scientists seeking funding for individual initiatives, we anticipate that GEO Members will commit to making resources available for the above activities, perhaps through the GEOGLOWS Initiative in the longer term.
  • Activities related to SDGs will also contribute to the GEO Earth Observations in Service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Initiative, and are expected to play a pivotal role in the next GEO implementation plan.  As water provides an excellent example of the development of linkages with other societal benefit areas and the global development community, including the SDG framework, it is envisioned that in addition to specific funding provided for individual projects by research and space agencies, some dedicated funding would also be made available.


  • Integrated information and W-E-F Nexus Security

The regional workshops have been funded by Future Earth and the Belmont Forum through the Sustainable Water Futures Programme. Completion of the final report will be funded by the Belmont Forum budget for the overall project. 

  • Water information and the Sustainable Development Goals

This GEO Water SDG activity currently has no funding and is carried out by people with in-kind support.  Through WHO, this project has links with the GEMI project, which will serve as one of its stakeholders.



Members: Germany, USA.

Participating Organizations: FAO.

Linkages across the Work Programme

Initiatives: Earth Observations in Service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; GEOGLOWS.

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)




Implementing Entity



Richard Lawford

United States



Charles Vorosmarty

United States



Rifat Hossain