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NEXUS Knowledge


NEXUS Initiatives

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Water Association (IWA) offer a space for the linkages across water, energy and food to be discussed through the Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions. The Dialogue is a call to action to those leading transformations in water infrastructure planning, financing and operation.

NEXUS in Practice

by the Ministry of Energy and Mines (Laos), TheunHinboun Power Company, Statkraft Oslo, Electrcité du Laos, and GMS Lao Company Ltd.

NEXUS Resources

15 Apr 16


Walking the Nexus Talk: A ssessing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

in the Context of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative - FAO Environment and Natural Ressources Management Working Paper 58 (July 2014)

17 Jan 15


Who should value nature?

Sustainable Business Initiative - Outside insights

16 Sep 14


Interactions between water, energy and food

Optimization - innovation - solution

27 Jun 14


Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development

By Atif Ansar, Bent Flyvbjerg, Alexander Budzier, and Daniel Lunn. A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. We investigate this question with the “outside view” or “reference class forecasting” based on literature on decision-making under uncertainty in psychology. We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams - excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. Using the largest and most reliable reference data of its kind and multilevel statistical techniques applied to large dams for the first time, we were successful in fitting parsimonious models to predict cost and schedule overruns. The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return unless suitable risk management measures outlined in this paper can be affordably provided. Policymakers, particularly in developing countries, are advised to prefer agile energy alternatives that can be built over shorter time horizons to energy megaprojects. In: Energy Policy, Volume 69, June 2014, Pages 43-56.

25 Jun 14


The Water - Energy - Food Nexus Global conflicts and possible solutions

By Gustaf Olsson, held on the iiESI European Workshop in Lund, Sweden on 27 May 2014

27 May 14


The Water-Energy Nexus in Shared River Basin: How hydro-power shapes cooperation and coordination

By Ines Dombrowsky and Waltina Scheumann, German Development Institute, held on the Bonn 2014 Nexus Conference „Sustainability in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus”, 19-20 May 2014.

14 May 14


China’s Water-Energy Nexus Challenge

Access to water and energy and continuity of supply are two critical issues facing China today. With the population expected to reach 1.6 billion people by 2030, the increasing demand for water and energy will far exceed available resources. Even today, China struggles to provide enough clean, fresh water and energy for industry, agriculture and domestic users. Limited resources have driven China to devise large infrastructure projects, which will significantly change the flows of natural waterways. It is also looking at the Tibetan Plateau as a potential source of future water and energy supply. Encompassing the sources of many of the largest rivers in Asia, China has the power to play water hegemon in the region, raising concerns about water security for downstream riparian neighbours. By Sinéad Lehane, Acting Research Manager, Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme

24 Apr 14


Transboundary integrated management of sediment related resources in the Lower Mekong (ecosystems, territorial integrity, power and construction sectors)

Presentation by Lois Koehnken, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), held on April 3rd, 2014, at the conference “Cooperation for Water, Energy, and Food Security in Transboundary Basins under Changing Climate” in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

29 Mar 14


Food, water, and energy security in South Asia: A nexus perspective from the Hindu Kush Himalayan region

By Golam Rasul. - With limited land resources, inadequate energy supply, and growing water stress, South Asia faces the challenge of providing enough water and energy to grow enough food for the burgeoning population. Using secondary data from diverse sources, this paper explores the food, water, and energy nexus from a regional dimension, emphasizing the role of Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) ecosystem services in sustaining food, water, and energy security downstream. The analysis reveals that the issues and challenges in the food, water, and energy sectors are interwoven in many complex ways and cannot be managed effectively without cross-sectoral integration. The most distinctive feature of the nexus in South Asia is the high degree of dependency of downstream communities on upstream ecosystem services for dry-season water for irrigation and hydropower, drinking water, and soil fertility and nutrients. This finding suggests that along with cross-sectoral integration to improve the resource-use efficiency and productivity of the three sectors, regional integration between upstream and downstream areas is critical in food, water, and energy security. Within the nexus approach in South Asia, equal attention should be paid to management of HKH ecosystems–especially the watersheds, catchments, and headwaters of river systems–and to tapping the potential of collaborative gains in water, hydropower, and other ecosystem services through coordination across HKH countries.

07 Aug 13


India - A Nation Heading Towards a Water-Food-Energy Choke Point

Circle of Blue, with the Wilson Center, is looking at what’s probably the most important drama unfolding on the planet today, and that’s the confrontation between water, food, and energy. Circle of Blue has created a project called Choke Point: U.S. Then backed up and said, “Let’s take a look at China.” Circle of Blue’s next Choke Point lens is to take a look at India, the world’s second-largest, second-most-populated nation.

12 Jun 13


Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus - to Cope with the Climate Change

A presentation by Ulrike Pokorski, Teamleader - International Water Policy and Infrastructure, GIZ.

26 Feb 13


Science Weekly Extra Podcast: Water, Food and Energy Production

Executive editor of the Guardian Jo Confino hosts the second of our Nexus debates about the technical and social challenges of achieving sustainability in water, energy and food consumption.

15 Feb 13


Sustainable Business: Water, Food and Energy Nexus Part Two

The second Guardian Nexus Debate, in association with SAB Miller, focuses on food and water in producing energy.

14 Jan 13


Water Wars Over Mekong Dams an Unlikely Future

Background paper from the Second Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy: “Cooperation, not conflict, is the real story of hydropower development in the Mekong.”

14 Jan 13


In Search of the Good Dam

Background paper from the Second Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy: “Polarized debates only further entrenched positions. It’s time for dialog on acceptable tradeoffs.”

25 Oct 12


The Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Climate Change in Southern Africa

Held at the Second Annual Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa Addis Ababa, 19-20 October 2012, by Gisela Prasad, Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town

08 Oct 12

Water Alternatives, Vol. 5/2012

Open for business or opening Pandora’s Box? A constructive critique of corporate engagement in water policy

The corporate world is waking to the realisation that improved water management is fundamental for future prosperity and human well-being. This special issue explores aspects of its response: from the application of an array of analytical tools such as water footprint accounting, risk filters and standards; water use efficiencies; derivatives and insurance mechanisms; to collaborative infrastructure and watershed projects; stakeholder engagement and attempts to influence water governance at all scales. Drawing on the papers in this issue the motivations for this new agenda are traced and its potential in helping to unlock some of our most intractable water challenges, or to open a Pandora’s box of controversies are considered. Key concerns include the potential for diverging corporate and public interests; policy and regulatory capture; privileging of economic over social perspectives; process inequities; displacement of existing water management priorities, and the risks of misguided interventions which undermine institutional and hydrological sustainability - with the financial support of Water Witness International, WWF, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and German Technical Cooperation (GIZ)

24 Sep 12


Managing Water - More Food, Higher Incomes

The AgWater Solutions Project, led by IWMI, explored how innovations in on-farm water management could help smallholder farmers. In Ghana, one of the countries targeted by the researchers, the use of motorized pumps and drip irrigation gives farmers new opportunities to grow valuable crops during the dry season. In this video farmers, scientists and policymakers explain how adopting these simple new technologies can change lives and boost incomes.

18 Sep 12

Conference Proceedings

Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: Focusing on Food-Water-Energy Nexus

A major international conference was held by CEP-BCI in February 2012. The conference benchmarked GMS economic growth between 2001 and 2010 and its impact on environmental and social development as well as provided an outlook for the next decade. Topics discussed included known and emerging economic, environmental, and climate change challenges in the context of food, water and energy security, and participants charted out key strategic thrusts for the coming decade. More than 233 delegates, including senior government officials from the GMS countries, private sector representatives and development partners attended. The conference outcomes have provided important inputs to the GMS program in general, and CEP-BCI Phase II in particular. During the next decade, emphasis will need to be placed on the management of food, water and energy resources in the GMS, which requires a careful balance of economic and environmental interests and better management of natural resources.

17 Sep 12


The Nile Basin - The NEXUS in Science and Research

by Holger Hoff (SEI): Overview, Initial Scenarios, Charles Iceland (WRI): Hydropower, Vulnerability to and Impacts on Water Scarcity, Jakob Granit (SEI/SIWI): Water Energy Nexus Opportunities, Guy Pegram (Pegasys): Water Food Nexus Opportunities, Abby Onencan (Nile Basin Discourse): The Role of Science, Nexus, Cooperation

04 Sep 12


Dams on the Mekong River: Lost fish protein and the implications for land and water resources

by Stuart Orr, WWF International

31 Aug 12


Nexus in and nexus-driven connections between river basins: Reflection of global nexus changes in large basins

by Janos J. Bogardi, Executive Officer of GWSP

30 Aug 12



Agriwaterpedia is an initiative to foster the provision of approaches and good practices, and to draw data from experiences and lessons learnt from a variety of development countries. The platform is also an instrument to trigger communication and actively promote knowledge exchange. Aggriwaterpedia is a major step towards closing this knowledge gap - a tool in discussing strategies and challenges related to agricultural water use on a global scale. Initiated by GIZ, the platform was launched during World Water Week 2012 on 28 August. Wiki Workspace focuses on climate change, agricultural water management, food security, with good practices and tool box.

16 Aug 12


Large-scale Water Storage in the Water, Energy and Food Nexus. Perspectives on Benefits, Risks and Best Practices

The paper provides an overview of the current status of large scale artificial water storage development and its functions in the water, energy and food security nexus. The paper presents a typology of water storage structures and provides an analysis of the risks, benefits and trade-offs posed by different storage options. It also highlights good practices and lessons learned from past experiences and explores emerging opportunities for water storage schemes to enhance water, energy and food security in the future.

18 Jun 12

Messages for Rio

A Climate-Safe “Green Economy” Protects Rivers, Rejects Destructive Dams

The twentieth anniversary of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, comes at a time when human-caused emissions have pushed our planet to the brink of a climate crisis. The effects of the global industrial economy brought planetary levels of carbon dioxide to a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2011, according to a 2012 International Energy Agency (IEA) report – only 1 Gt below the level that the IEA considers necessary to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 2°C. In response, many governments, banks, and corporations are increasingly looking to large hydropower dams to reduce fossil fuel use. Proponents claim that large hydropower dams will help usher in a “green economy.” Rather than achieving greater protection of the planet’s ecosystems from the demands of growing energy use, this policy direction will put an increasing burden on Earth’s freshwater species and habitats.

11 Jun 12

Policy Recommendation

Briefing Note “Water for Energy” by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

This paper aims at identifying and recommending best practices and policies from global business to address the water-energy nexus, while outlining potential drivers of innovation.

07 Jun 12

Lessons Learnt

Sharing the water, sharing the benefits: Lessons from six large dams in West Africa

West African countries are planning to construct new large dams in order to meet their energy and water needs and to promote food security against an uncertain backdrop of climate change. If these new dams are to offer development opportunities for all and avoid social conflict over land and water management then lessons need to be learned from past projects.

30 May 12


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

25 May 12


The Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Presentation by Prof Susan Bolton PhD, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington (USA)

04 May 12


Mekong2Rio Message

Message from the International Conference on Transboundary River Basin Management, Phuket, 1-3 May 2012

03 Apr 12


Water Options for India in a Changing Climate

New report by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) underlines the nexus between water, food and energy security

28 Mar 12


Putting Nature in the Nexus: Investing in Natural Infrastructure to Advance Water-Energy-Food Security

Nature is the unseen dimension of the nexus. With its functions integral to the three securities and their inter-dependence, nature is part of the infrastructure needed to manage the nexus and its resilience. Nature helps mediate the nexus links, by storing, moving, cleaning and buffering flows of water, making drought and flood less severe, and food and energy production more reliable. Without healthy ecosystems in well-functioning watersheds, the infrastructure built for irrigation, hydropower or municipal water supply does not function sustainably, and is unlikely to achieve the economic returns necessary to justify investments.

23 Mar 12


Dams and Development – A New Framework for Decision-making – 2000 WDC Report

“At the heart of the dams debate are issues of equity, governance, justice and power – issues that underlie the many intractable problems faced by humanity.”

19 Mar 12

Case Studies

Water, Food & Energy Nexus

A collection of case studies on the NEXUS presented by CGIAR’s Challenge Programm, the EDF Groupe and the World Water Council on the WWF6

03 Mar 12


Rivers at Risk

World’s top 10 rivers at risk – by

03 Mar 12


Dams Initiative

Dams – Blessing or curse? Over 48,000 large dams are in operation worldwide.


30 Jun 14

Nexus and Security Thinking

The STEPS centre is currently conducting a research project investigating the impact of the nexus on water security issues in South East Asia. It has just published a working paper on the water-energy-food nexus. Being the new “buzzword” in policy circles, the nexus can perhaps further the important work of an integrated approach in policy making. But, to reach its full potential, it is important to consider questions of social justice, the current framings of security that are inherent in the nexus, and who stands in a position to influence these conceptions. - By Jeremy Allouche and Maria Cooper.

27 Jun 14

Water-Energy Nexus and Hydropower

This opinion piece comments on the March 2014 paper “Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development” by Atif Ansar and colleagues published in Energy Policy. By Jerson Kelman, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Former President of Brazilian Water Agency and Brazilian Electricity Agency.

26 Mar 14

World Water Day 2014

“In the water sector, the food-energy-water nexus is slowly replacing the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management, “ says Jeremy Allouche, member of the IDS Water Justice Programme and the STEPS Centre.

21 Feb 14


A new web-based knowledge sharing portal on small hydropower that features best practices from different regions of the world has been launched by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Centre on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP). It contains 20 regional overviews and 149 country-level reports.

22 Oct 13

Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions

Nexus insights from the IWA Development Congress in Nairobi, Kenya

10 Oct 13

Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions

Nexus Lessons and Solutions from Bogotà

04 Jun 12

Side Event at the Africa Water Week

“The nexus is an important process which has been started at the Bonn conference and needs to be continued by committed people at all levels in order to effect change”. — by Nicole Kranz

26 Apr 12


The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental, and Scientific Affairs (OES) at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) requests applications from non-profits, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, and public international organizations for grants to support the management of a new initiative on multi-purpose infrastructure. Deadline is 4 June 2012.

26 Oct 11

Nexus Blog

How Water Makes Green Economies a Moving Target

03 Oct 11

Nexus Blog

Why attempts to ensure water, food and energy security should focus on innovative bottom-up strategies rather than large multipurpose projects

16 Jun 11

Short Film

International experts comment on the main topics of the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference

Recent NEXUS Events

10–11 May 14


This Seventh Workshop brings together a great cast of researchers, activists and practitioners, to both deepen and broaden understanding of hydro-hegemony.

11–13 Mar 13


This workshop will discuss food security from a nexus perspective with particular emphasis on scientific analysis and evidence as well as generating tools and appropriate responses.

05–06 Dec 12


The 2-day conference in December 2012 will focus on how energy policy and governance are influenced by or influencing water and food sectors. The first day deals mainly with energy governance issues in Asia Pacific countries, but with papers pointing to the importance of Nexus internationally.

13–14 Nov 12


The Second Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy will continue this constructive dialogue on the relationship between the cost and benefits of water development.

16 Apr 12


Stanford experts from a range of disciplines will discuss the interconnections and interactions among humanity’s needs for and use of water, food, energy, and environment.

NEXUS in the Media

15 Jan 16


Stanford researcher creates method to measure resource tradeoffs in times of drought

A new computer model developed by a Stanford scientist can be used by resource managers around the world to weigh food and energy tradeoffs when water is scarce

03 Dec 15


How the Water-Energy-Food ‘Nexus’ in Asia affects real lives

Whilst the nexus as a concept seems to be gaining momentum among experts, it is also subject to scrutiny.

03 Nov 15


LUNGU calls for energy solutions

President Edgar Lungu has challenged stakeholders in the water sector to come up with innovative solutions that will address the energy deficit and food insecurity that the country and region is currently experiencing.

25 Nov 14


The Ripple Effect: Water-Energy-Food Nexus

The engineers building the dam could never have imagined the ripple effects their work created.

15 Oct 14


Energy Minister: Water shortage at critical stage in 3 provinces

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a dam construction project in Zanjan Province on Sunday, the energy minister added that Tehran, Isfahan, and Kerman provinces are experiencing a critical level of water shortage.

29 Aug 14


Food, energy and water: the politics of the nexus

Debates about the food-energy-water nexus need to recognise that global priorities may not reflect local concerns, and resource allocations are always political

26 Jun 14

Food, energy and water: the politics of the nexus

Debates about the food-energy-water nexus need to recognise that global priorities may not reflect local concerns, and resource allocations are always political. By Jeremy Allouche, research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, member of the ESRC STEPS Centre and co-author of Nexus Nirvana or Nexus Nullity?, a STEPS Centre working paper.

24 Jun 14

The parched planet: Water on tap

Researchers are exploring unconventional sources of fresh water to quench the globe’s growing thirst.

24 Jun 14

Blog Oil for Food

The Water Energy Food Nexus in Drylands

By Eckart Woertz. Nowhere else the nexus is as evident as in dry lands and in the MENA region in particular. Energy will be required to pump, treat and desalinate water for domestic and agricultural purposes. Water will be required to produce energy. About 1-2 percent of global energy consumption can be attributed to the production of nitrogen fertilizer alone. Such development challenges call for a nexus approach to broaden the analysis from a mere ‘blue water’ focus to the more efficient use of soil moisture (“green water”) and sustainable policy options.

02 Apr 14


$2b private proposal to build one of Australia’s biggest irrigation schemes in northern Queensland

Integrated Food and Energy Developments (IFED) wants to build two dams and siphon 555,000 megalitres of water per year from Queensland’s Gilbert River catchment to irrigate a huge sugar cane plantation. The debate, whether this endavour is environmentally sustainable is underway.

12 Mar 14


“The nexus debate at African Utility Week will be specifically about Africa and for Africa”

Paul T. Yillia, consultant at Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) explains in this interview, what nexus topics will be raised on the African Utility Week

16 Feb 14

Stress Nexus: when demands on food, water and energy become unsustainable

“The world has entered a period of volatility and transition - every choice that is made from here on will have an impact on what will happen in the near future. What is done today will determine if the planet will still be capable of sustaining life in the midst of the growing demands on energy, food and water,” says Zsarlene B. Chua.

12 Feb 13

Call to action for Water, Energy, and Food Security

UCN and the International Water Association (IWA) launched the Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions.The goal is to building partnerships for innovation in water, food, and energy security.

22 Oct 12

No Wars for Water - Why Climate Change Has Not Led to Conflict

In short, predictions of a Water World War are overwrought. However, tensions over water usage can still exacerbate other existing regional conflicts. Climate change is expected to intensify droughts, floods, and other extreme weather conditions that jeopardize freshwater quantity and quality and therefore act as a threat-multiplier, making shaky regions shakier -by

17 Sep 12

Asia’s Water Crisis Needs Urgent Fixing

Asia’s water crisis is at the heart of the world’s water challenges, where the degradation of surface and subterranean water resources threatens the ecosystem. With Asia facing the world’s lowest per capita access to fresh water, the continent’s ever-deeper search for water is sucking groundwater reserves dry with millions of pump-operated wells even as it confronts river depletion. Groundwater is recklessly exploited because it is not visible to the human eye. What is out of sight tends to be out of mind, as people drill ever deeper into the receding water table. At least seven factors have contributed to the rising economic and security risks linked with the Asian water crisis.

29 Aug 12

Stockholm and the Nexus

A summary of the Stockholm Water Week’s discussions on the NEXUS on 28 August 2012.

12 Jun 12

Resource depletion: Opportunity or looming catastrophe?

Imagine a world of spiralling food prices, water shortages and soaring energy costs. For many living in the world today, this nightmare scenario is already a reality. Even for the well-off living in developed economies, it is becoming all too familiar.

04 Jun 12

Tödlicher Fortschritt am Turkana-See

Hunderttausenden Menschen droht eine ökologische Katastrophe: Ein gigantischer äthiopischer Staudamm könnte dazu führen, dass der Turkana-See in Kenia noch weiter austrocknet. Die Region gilt jetzt schon als eine der gewalttätigsten Afrikas - die Konflikte würden sich weiter verschärfen.

07 May 12

Opening the floodgates – A giant dam is about to be built. Protests are about to erupt

In December the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental body made up of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, called again for approval of a potentially devastating dam at Xayaburi in northern Laos to be withheld until more is known about its effect on the lower Mekong. But now CH. Karnchang, a Thai construction giant contracted to build a $3.8 billion dam at Xayaburi has told the Bangkok Stock Exchange that dam construction officially began on March 15th, and that 5,000 workers have just been hired.

26 Mar 12

U.S. Intelligence Says Water Shortages Threaten Stability

Competition for increasingly scarce water in the next decade will fuel instability in regions such as South Asia and the Middle East that are important to U.S. national security, according to a U.S. intelligence report.

23 Mar 12

EDF’s Wolf Calls For Three Sectors, Water-Energy-Food, To Be Governed By One Policy

“Clearly at the end of the day if you want to provide water, energy and food to a household, the nexus between them is evident.”

20 Mar 12

Why don’t we love water anymore?

“The water-food-energy nexus is at the heart of any country.”

14 Mar 12

Controversial dam projects – in pictures

The Guardian takes a look at some of the world’s most contentious dam projects, from the Three Gorges in China to Brazil’s Belo Monte dam

05 Mar 12

A damming assessment of Mekong development

Dams on tributaries worse for fish than those on the main river


  • 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
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