Water and Energy for Food Grand Challenge

WE4F’s mission is to expand the sustainable scale of small and growing enterprises (SGEs) that impact the sectors of food and water, food and energy, or all three sectors at the nexus (food, water, energy) to increase the sustainability of agricultural food value chains and address environmental and climate resilience in developing countries and emerging markets – with a particular focus on the poor and women.

WE4F will capitalize on the vast resources and learnings from Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (SWFF) and Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) and adopt the most promising innovations/innovators identified and nurtured in those programs and support these innovations to grow and scale.

WE4F has the potential to bring about transformational change and large-scale impact in the food sector, assisting millions of people across the globe who are involved in the food chain. For this purpose, the WE4F programme strives to achieve the following impacts:

  • Increase in food production through a more sustainable and efficient usage of water and/ or energy
  • Increase in income for women and men in both rural and urban areas
  • The scaling of new solutions of the innovators to challenges in the WE4F nexus
  • Customers in the market are buying the newly developed products or services of the innovators
  • Increase investments into enterprises at the WE4F nexus

Geographical Scope of WE4F

Steering Committee

The US Agency for International Development, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands introduced the Water and Energy for Food Grand Challenge June 2019 at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Pia Lindström

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sweden

Pia Lindström is a program manager at the Unit for Global Economy and Environment at Sida, primarily working with challenge funds within the fields of environment and climate change including resilience.

She holds a M.Sc. degree in International Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics and a B.Sc. in Political Science from Stockholm University. She has previously worked with the EU Commission/EuropeAid on corporate social responsibility issues and has for six years been based in the field in Bhutan and India working for the UNDP as well as managing local NGOs focusing on climate smart agriculture, sustainable waste management, appropriate technologies including sustainable energy and water projects, and youth social entrepreneurship programs.

Dr. Ku McMahan

US Agency for International Development, United States

Dr. Ku McMahan serves as Team Lead for Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development in the US Global Development Lab at USAID. SWFF is a $35M partnership between USAID, South Africa, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

He received his Ph.D. in environmental sciences and an M.P.H. in environmental health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under NSF and EPA STAR Fellowships. He received a B.A. in environmental sciences and policy. In addition, he developed a simple, low-cost water quality test for developing countries and emergency situations. Ku was recently a program executive officer for the USAID WA-WASH program in GLOWS and assistant professor of research at Florida International University.

Omer van Renterghem

Senior Policy Advisor Water and Environment, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands

Omer is working in the Inclusive Green Growth Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on water management. He is responsible for a number of programs, amongst these Securing Water for Food, the Valuing Water Initiative, and a strategic partnership on sustainable landscape management with WWF and IUCN. He also supports development of Netherlands water programs in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Before joining the water cluster his focus was on environmental aspects of the broader sustainability agenda: green growth, natural capital accounting, and circular economy. He initiated the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes (ISLA), focusing on the business case for integrated landscape management, and he was leading a project team on landscape approach. In addition, until recently, he was involved in the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

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