Shelie Miller

Director of Program in the Environment, Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professor of Sustainable Systems, and Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Sustainability, University of Michigan

“Understanding the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus”


The Sustainable Development Goals contain specific food, water, and energy security goals (Goals 2, 6, and 7 respectively).  Progress toward each of these goals can be considered individually; however, a more holistic approach considers the food-energy-water nexus, recognizing the complex interdependencies of these systems.  Food, energy, and water systems are intrinsically linked and it is important to recognize both the potential synergies and tradeoffs that exist when attempting to make progress toward any individual goal.  In addition to identifying and potentially mitigating unintended consequences, a nexus approach will help identify leverage points where progress can be made on multiple goals simultaneously. This talk will present a systems approach to construct future scenarios to identify preferable options for new interventions in development.  A case study will be explored that evaluates the potential nexus-effects of refrigerated food supply chains (a.k.a. “the cold chain”) introduced into developing countries.  The cold chain presents an excellent example to explore sustainable development from a holistic perspective, understanding the tradeoffs and co-benefits across food, energy, and water systems.


Shelie Miller is the Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professor of Sustainable Systems, Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Sustainability, and Director, Program in the Environment at the University of Michigan. Her research uses life cycle assessment and scenario modeling to identify environmental problems before they occur. Historically, society has taken a reactionary approach to the environment. By proactively understanding the environmental issues of emerging technologies, we can identify a greater number of options and more creative solutions to avoid or reduce negative consequences. Dr. Miller's research group works on a variety of energy-related topics, including the energy-water nexus,