Securing reliable water, energy and food (WEF) supplies is important for sustainable development. Due to their high level of interdependence, the relationship between water, energy and food can be mutually constraining, for example, as global demands for food continue to rise, there is pressure for water and energy resources. On the other hand the WEF nexus presents great opportunities for scientific adventures and development innovations. This paper explores the role of science in the development of the WEF nexus policies, legislations, programmes and institutions in Lake Victoria Basin, a trans-boundary water resource in East Africa. Lake Victoria experiences problems such as pollution and climate change which threaten its ecosystem services, the basis of water, energy and food securities.
Using documentation analysis and key informant interviews, an in-depth investigation was carried out on scientific contributions to the nexus policy processes. A mapping exercise was conducted and all relevant policies listed, their core objectives and priorities in the nexus identified, as well as specific targets and gaps. All relevant policy documents were analysed, key statements, measures and achievements were identified and noted. A case study approach was applied by selecting relevant research programmes and projects implemented at the trans-boundary level, their key scientific outputs and outcomes identified together with their contributions in knowledge generation and dissemination. A content analysis helped in identifying their level of influence on the nexus policies with reference, achievements, success and failures.
Preliminary findings show that several policies, legislations, programme and institutions have been formed to manage Lake Victoria's ecosystem. These arrangements have the potential to promote the optimization of water, energy and securities in the Lake Region. However, managing trade-offs and synergies at the WEF nexus is a challenge often due to limited up take of science by policy processes as well as misalignment of policies due to divergent sectoral priorities. Besides, the interactions between actors and stakeholders from the riparian countries are deeply entangled with unequal power relations and distribution of resources.
This paper adds knowledge and understanding on policy- science interface in the creation and facilitation of the enabling environment for the WEF nexus in the Lake Victoria region. It presents opportunities and challenges for applying science for policy making processes and highlights lessons learnt that are useful in the development of robust policies, legislations programmes and institutions for the WEF nexus. This is especially useful in the development countries context.
In a non-stationary world, with intertwined resource systems, uncertain externalities, and high future stakes, it is essential that we better understand the existing interconnections across different resource systems and integrate them into resource allocation decision-making processes. Doing so will play an important role in improving our ability to develop long-term, sustainable resource allocation strategies and enable us to move away from reactive, short-term tactics.
Water, energy, and food securities are major constituents of a healthy economy; the ability to understand how the three resource systems interact, and the interdependencies between them, will be a key to the development of such an economy.
Decision-makers currently lack the proper tools to assess the implications of different resource allocation strategies; this is where modeling those interactions and communicating them through proper assessments and communication tools can be a key to facilitating that process. A large number of tools address different angles of this nexus and need to be built upon in order to properly assess current and future resource hotspots.
The main purpose of this contribution is to offer a guiding 7-Question Framework which helps in understanding, modeling, and assessing a resource nexus hotspot. This framework includes questions on system definition, stakeholder identification, scale, assessment criteria, communication, and data needs. While “modeling nexus issues” follows a common, guiding, holistic and cross-sectoral approach, localizing and contextualizing the issue in hand will be a key to assess trade-offs at a given scale.
After introducing the framework, three different case studies are demonstrated. The cases studies address three critical perspectives: water security focus, energy security focus, and food security focus; and at different scales (national, state, and international levels). They demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all model to address water-energy-food (WEF) related issues. The case studies will highlight how building on a common platform and nexus philosophy, three different models are created to respond to different critical questions.
The water-energy-food nexus in Latin America and the Caribeean. Planning, legal framework and priority interconnections.
This paper analyzes the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) focusing on the current state of the art; planning for nexus implementation; harmonization of the regulatory framework and the identification of priority interconnections for the region.
Based on a review of the theoretical background to the nexus concept and its current global configuration we consider the main aspects of the WEF nexus to establish and move forward the debate in the LAC region. It is further contemplated, other specific relevant elements for that purposes, such as the nexus link with the Sustainable Development Goals (ODS); the financial aspects related to nexus components and the nexus in the risk society. The paper then discuss different nexus features in LAC while identifying the main challenges for implementation, harmonization with the human rights legal framework and national legal priorities for water use.
In making a brief description of the different interconnections (water /energy; water /food; food/power) we identify and discuss those which may result critical for the region in nexus implementation. Among the interconnections that should be prioritized we found: agriculture/food; irrigation modernization and aquifers overexploitation; hydropower, oil and mining, water and sanitation services and biofuels. Science has provided evidence on the extraordinary importance of these interconnections but priorities, planning and legal frameworks play a key role in integrating and putting them into practice.
We conclude that nexus approach has hardly been considered in a region where it can be useful to transform the current development model, natural resources use-intensive, but unsustainable. We finally draw some conclusions followed by a series of institutional, organizational and sectorial recommendations for nexus implementation in the LAC region.
The Mekong River is of great significance to the people of Southeast Asia, and is highly valued for its role in culture throughout history. The basins are seen as the engines behind energy infrastructure, regional transportation grids, and tourism development (Asian Development Bank’s Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) initiatives). However, the competing demand of water, energy and food, as well as threats posed by climate change, place constraints on the region’s future development. In this paper, an interdisciplinary approach was used to examine the current state of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam’s water, energy and food profile.
This was accomplished through the development of the Resilience Index, a tool used to gauge the level of a country’s combined food water and energy securities. The Resilience Index, was formulated using Renewable Energy in Energy Profile, Water Risk Index, Water Withdrawal for Agriculture/Cultivated Land Area, Prevalence of Undernourishment, and Percentage of Agricultural Land as indicators of risk. For each country, a data set was gathered to provide the current value for each of the indicators. The resulting score was analyzed and policy recommendations were formed to improve the Resilience Index by focusing on the main risk-contributing indicators
This demonstrated the potential usefulness of the Resilience Index as analysis method to assist policy makers in comprehensively informed decision making. Treating water food and energy security as an integrated whole is crucial to the creation of an optimal strategy for future development. Some examples of policy recommendations include growing cassava as an alternative to rice production in the Mekong Delta country Vietnam, and increasing federal funding to the school meals program in Lao PDR. This paper proposes several additional interventions to reduce the water risk, energy risk and food risk of Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia as well as associated tradeoffs and complications.