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COP 27 // Side Event on “Nexus Solutions for climate resilient water-energy-food-Environment security” shows importance of the Nexus approach for climate change

The COP27 took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, holding a side event on November 14th on: “Nexus solutions for climate-resilient water, energy, food and environment security: lessons learned from the ground”. The session featured diverse perspectives and experiences of various Nexus stakeholders.

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From the 8 to 18 November, the Water Pavilion at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, hosted several events around the topic of water and climate change. The Pavilion, now organised for the second time, brought several stakeholders from international organisations, institutions, governments, civil society, and the private sector together.

Thematic day on water, energy and climate Nexus

One highlight of the thematic day for the water, energy, and climate Nexus, held on 14 November, was the side event on “Nexus solutions for climate-resilient water, energy, food and environment security: lessons learned from the ground” took place. Co-organised by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Republic of Tajikistan, IFPRI, the International Initiative Water and Energy for Food, BGR, KfW Development Bank, the International Hydropower Association (IHA), and ITAIPU Binacional, the event featured experiences and examples of water-energy-food-environment Nexus planning and implementation in different countries. It advocated for a cross-sectoral, coordinated effort, bringing together a holistic management of natural resources with stakeholder needs and innovations, while enabling financial and political support opportunities.

The event was opened by Mr. Dieter Rothenberger’s (GIZ) welcome message. He introduced the keynote speaker, Mr. Jamshed Shoimzoda, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources of Tajikistan, who gave a speech that stressed the increasing WEF needs, as well as the climate change impacts. He stated that:

“It is important to understand how we can mitigate these trends. These issues are interdependent as well as the challenges they create.”

Mr. Johannes Muntau (GIZ) briefly introduced the topic, underlining in the need for a sustainable transformation to climate resilient food systems, which might be supported by the WEFE Nexus approach.

Discussion round on the role of water storage

The first discussion panel, moderated by Ms. Veronica Girardi (UNECE), focussed on the potentials, and constrains diverse types of water storage can bring to energy and food security. After stating that we need to redesign and make the best use of solutions for sustainable water use, the guest speakers were invited to evaluate the role of water storage in sustainable water use.

The first speaker, Mr. Ariel Scheffer da Silva (Itaipu Binacional) addressed how surface water storage management and hydropower can contribute to delivering WEFE security in a national and transboundary context during a drought, energy, and food crisis. After mentioning the Itaipu dam is run by Brazil and Paraguay, he elaborated on the states’ responsibilities towards the downstream state, Argentina, and towards the local users.

The panel continued with the question addressed to Mr. Eddie Rich (IHA), on hydropower technologies that might be most useful for climate adaptation and mitigation benefits for food security. He emphasized that hydropower is as important as the wind and solar put together. However, he mentioned the importance of planning to get the best of Nexus by emphasizing the 4 steps that should be planned:

“First, you plan how much energy you will need considering other sources of energy. Then, you should see the sights. For the third step you need to make sure that you have the right policy framework and financial incentives and as the fourth step you must build the infrastructure sustainably.”

The following speaker, Mr. Prof. Thomas Himmelsbach, (BGR) commented on the potential and the limits of groundwater for climate change adaptation in Sub-Sahara Africa. He underlined the possibility to use waters stored in aquifers sustainably:

“Some aquifers (also in Sub-Saharan Africa) are more resilient to longer draught periods. In Sub-Sahara aquifers, some states use a small portion of that. If all states used it, only 25% of the average recharge would be used. Here is a good potential to use for the prolonged draught periods.”

One of the key messages was given by Ms. Makena Ireri, (Clasp), who pointed out that accessing groundwater becomes extremely critical considering the current droughts at the Horn of Africa and in Kenya:

"People are trying to access water by digging wells. However, it is important to get the water from the well.”

Between both panels, Mr. Seleshi Bekele, the Ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States, joined with a video message. He set forth the interlinkage of the food crises with climate change and climate extremes. He underlined that the food and energy systems are connected and therefore affected from water resources degradation.

Interventions, tools and policy need for an enabling environment to scale WEFE-Nexus solutions

The second panel addressed interventions, tools and policy need for an enabling environment to scale WEFE-Nexus solutions towards climate resilience. Featuring speaker Ms. Julia Weatherhogg (UFCCC), responded to why a NEXUS approach is needed to make food systems more resilient to climate change and more sustainable. She gave the example of Nexus Gains, an initiative that:

“…brings foresight technology and planning to the fingertips of smallholder farmers so they can actually not only see what kind of gains they can obtain in terms of energy but also what the impact is on the environment and on their resources.”

Mr. Samuel Wanderi Rigu (Safi Organics), clarified the main constraints for scaling their business and nexus solutions. He explained one of the major challenges in Kenya, the lack of policy and technical standards for organic fertilizers. He also suggested subsidizing locally produced innovative and climate-oriented technologies to help the small-scale farmers grow out of poverty.

In his key message, Mr. Kibrom Abay (IFPRI), elaborated on tools and institutions needed to increase cross-sectoral analyses for joint water, energy-food security, and environmental sustainability. He underlined the importance of exploiting the synergy and linkage between different sectors, as well as the need to create a policy coherence at the highest level within water land and food policies, andat the ground level.

Ms. Christiane Ehringhaus from KfW Development Bank evaluated the scope for scaling up investments into water and food security, while strengthening environmental sustainability and climate resilience. She stressed that financing Nexus projects is attractive on paper. However, in practice a “broad holistic integrated approach” on financing is needed. Therefore, development banks and respective partner governments can still improve their approaches to large-scale multisectoral projects. She also underlined that it is not possible to negotiate separately with all the actors, which is why platforms that bring together all actors are “more than welcome”.

Key message of the session

The side event has put forward the importance of the Nexus approach in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Featuring participants with diverse perspectives and backgrounds, the event has been a major opportunity to share experiences and solutions.

More information

To learn more or to re-live the experience, the videos of the 2022 Water Pavillion can be found here.

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