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South African Water, Energy and Food Forum: "Managing the Mega-Nexus", Sandton, SA | Water Energy Food Nexus, Bonn 2011

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18–19 Apr 12

Conference

South African Water, Energy and Food Forum: “Managing the Mega-Nexus”, Sandton, SA

The South African Water, Energy & Food Forum 2012 is a two-day Forum aimed at exploring the Mega-Nexus between water, energy and food security. The Forum is sponsored by Anglo American, Eskom, Exxaro Resources and Nedbank with additional support from the US Embassy and Independent Newspapers.

South Africa is transitioning into an extremely vulnerable state as water resources become a constraint to job creation and future economic growth. In this context one can think of a transition in a peak water context from a demand-driven to a supply-constrained national economy, resulting in a wide range of ramifications that are as yet mostly unexplored.

  • ”Peak water” implies a supply-constrained economy with a limited capacity to create new jobs. This becomes relevant as social instability arises from the labour movement agitating for more jobs in the face of diminishing opportunities and increases in efficiency replace human labour with mechanization. This is further exacerbated by the uncontrolled inflow of foreign refugees, driven by a similar transition in neighbouring states;
  • Water allocation reform implies a diminishing capacity to be nationally self sufficient in food, so for the first time food security starts to emerge as a threat. This becomes coupled to other land reform issues, which have a national security dynamic of their own;
  • Energy security becomes relevant for the first time, because of the intimate linkage between water and energy. In particular the efficiency of converting a given unit of water into a given unit of electricity becomes relevant, as does Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) arising from abandoned gold and coal mines that reduces the available stock of water at national level by driving up the cost of water treatment elsewhere in the economy;
  • Access to future water thus becomes relevant in the context of transboundary river basins shared by riparian states and governed by a regime called the SADC Water Protocol (SADC, 1995). This can be thought of as one aspect of “New Water” – getting access to alternative sources;
  • Alternative strategic storage becomes relevant because the Hydraulic Mission was about building dams to capture MAR, but that is no longer feasible. This can be thought of as another aspect of “New Water” – reducing evaporative losses associated with large dams by means of managed aquifer recharge

Our future depends on breaking the silo mentality and understanding, and finding solutions to, the challenges that evolved from our highly interconnected and dynamic system. SAWEF brings all the role-players together to develop solutions through the lens of risk. The two-day event will provide ample networking, brainstorming, blue-sky thinking opportunities and hopefully start the dialogue that will lead to long-term sustainable change.

SAWEF 2012 Key Themes

  • Understanding, exploring and planning for the “Mega-Nexus”, which is made up of the water-energy-food component that is embedded in climate change as a global concern.
  • How water security can best be managed in a future that will increasingly be constrained by climate change on the one hand, and a growing population needing food, energy, water and employment on the other hand.
  • The energy sector is confronted by a dilemma: while we have large volumes of coal still unmined, we are at the limits of our reliable water supply; and the unintended consequences of coal combustion that include acid rain and AMD are starting to erode our food security
  • If we are to attain food security at regional level, what infrastructural development (roads, railways, cold chain facilities) and what policy reforms need to take place at SADC level? What is the future of land reform if so many of the farms fall out of commercial production after being transferred? What is the future impact of acid rain going to be on maize production given that we know the effects of low pH on the mobilization of aluminium as a trace element in the soil, with reduced pollination occurring as the result of deformities in the pollen tubes of maize?
  • How do we finance the reduction of acid rain and acid mine drainage (AMD) when the implications of these two phenomena are constantly downplayed?
  • How do we attract financing into the alternative energy field under existing cost structures? How do we finance the trade in Virtual Water (water embedded in food, consumer goods and energy)?

Related Resources

Presentation

Power and the Water, Food, Energy Nexus

by Andrew Etzinger, ESKOM, held on the SAWEF Conference in South Africa

Presentation

Water, Energy, Food Nexus: A Perspective Through Eyes of Water Policy

by Dr. Jerome Delli Priscoli, Institute for Water Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers, Governor World Water Council, Editor in Chief Water Policy, held on the SAWEF Conference in South Africa

Presentation

Food, Energy and Water – The Meganexus: South Africa at the Stress Epicenter

by Margaret Catley-Carlson, held at the South African Water, Energy and Food Forum: “Managing the Mega-Nexus”, 18-19 April 2012

Related News

South Africa

The South African Water, Energy and Food forum could not have come at a more opportune time. COP17 has come and gone and with the new year in full swing, many remain doubtful about whether or not all the hype has left us with a successful outcome to the complicated international climate change negotiations process; and about what the outcomes to this process mean for business. — by Aimée Girdwood

NEXUS Interview

An interview with Margaret Catley-Carlson, Vice Chair, Canadian Water Network and Member of the Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB)

Related Media Coverage

20 Apr 12

Business Report (South Africa)

Change is never easy and seldom welcomed, but it is again upon us as a nation. Like it or not there are some fundamental truths that we need to start dealing with if we are to reach our full economic potential. Four truths are particularly ugly, but given their importance to us collectively, we need to confront them with wisdom and clear heads. South Africa is famous for its inherent creativity and experience has shown that this often comes in response to crises from which we cannot escape. – by Anthony Turton

Further Reading

25 Apr 12

An interview with Margaret Catley-Carlson, Vice Chair, Canadian Water Network and Member of the Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB)

04 May 12

The South African Water, Energy and Food forum could not have come at a more opportune time. COP17 has come and gone and with the new year in full swing, many remain doubtful about whether or not all the hype has left us with a successful outcome to the complicated international climate change negotiations process; and about what the outcomes to this process mean for business. — by Aimée Girdwood

07 Nov 11

Workshop Report of the UNCSD African Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20 now available

NEXUS in the Media

29 Oct 12

The Straits Times (Singapore)

ENERGY, water and food - three cornerstones of the world - are deeply intertwined, and will be demanded in ever larger quantities in the future. To meet these inter-related demands, businesses can play a key role, working closely with government, said Ms Ruth Cairnie, executive vice-president of strategy and planning at energy giant Royal Dutch Shell.

13 Dec 13

The Nation (Pakistan)

A conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, focussed on a number of development related topics in the South Asia region. Among them was connected infrastructure between Pakistan and India to address the water-energy-food-security nexus

26 Jun 12

UN Chronicle

We live in the Anthropocene in which humans have become a major force shaping the environment. Rising incomes and reduced poverty have coincided with the growing demand for goods and services, such as food and energy, which in turn has increased the pressure on natural resources and ecosystems leading to their over-exploitation and degradation. Climate change adds to this predicament, as several climate adaptation and mitigation measures such as irrigation, desalination, or biofuels, are also resource intensive. In a recent attempt to quantify the limits of global resources, the Planetary Boundaries framework, a critical environmental threshold beyond which rapid and unexpected systemic or “regime” shifts may be triggered, was developed. This framework tries to establish global limits for water, land, and energy use (atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration as a proxy), and for other natural resources, such as nutrients or biodiversity.

26 Aug 13

Coast Week (Nairobi/Mombasa)

Africa’s expansive dry lands if harnessed sustainably could offer lasting solution to food, water and energy crises in the continent, the UN Dry lands Ambassador Dennis Garrity said.

Partners

  • IFPRI International Food Policy Research Institute
  • WEF World Economic Forum
  • WWF World Wide Fund for Nature

Bonn2011 Nexus Conference – in the context of Bonn Perspectives

  • Bonn Perspectives

initiated by

  • BONN
  • BMZ

funded by

  • European Regional Development Fund EFRE
  • NRW Ministerin fr Bundesangelegenheiten, Europa und Medien des Landes Nordrhein-Westphalen