Characterising the water-energy-food nexus in Kuwait and the Gulf region

Economic challenges as a result of the recent fluctuations in oil prices have exposed unprecedented risks to Kuwait and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, including securing long-term sustainable access to and use of water and food resources. The strong interlinkages between the availability of water, energy, and food resources have been termed the Water–Energy–Food (WEF) nexus. Here, we characterise the nexus for Kuwait across different spatial scales, reviewing available literature and focussing on empirical data from the most widely used global and regional databases on water, energy and food. While there are certainly issues of water scarcity, trade-offs between sectors at the domestic level are limited. At the international scale, high oil export revenues shield Kuwait from the immediate impacts of higher prices in food imports, but they expose Kuwait to water scarcity and food production risks in other countries. At the global scale, we consider climate change mitigation linkages with Kuwait’s WEF nexus. Whilst there is great uncertainty about future international climate policy and its implications for oil and gas revenues in Kuwait, our analysis illustrates how implementation of policy measures to account for the social costs of carbon could be significant.

Christian Siderius, Declan Conway, Mohamed Yassine, Lisa Murken, Pierre-Louis Lostis. (2019) Characterising the water-energy-food nexus in Kuwait and the Gulf region. LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series (28). Middle East Centre, LSE, London, UK.