The water and energy sectors of an economy are inextricably linked. Energy is required in water production, distribution, and recycling, while water is often used for energy generation. In many geographical locations, the energy-water nexus is exacerbated by the shortage of both fresh water resources and energy generation infrastructure. New materials, including metamaterials, are now emerging to address the challenges of providing renewable energy and fresh water, especially to off-the-grid communities struggling with water shortages. Novel nanomaterials have fueled recent technology breakthroughs in solar water desalination, fog and dew collection, and cloud seeding. Materials for passive thermal management of buildings and individuals offer promising strategies to reduce the use of energy and water for heating and cooling. While many challenges remain, emerging materials and technologies improve sustainable management of water and energy resources.