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Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme // Insights from the webinar: Governing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A policy-science dialogue!
The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme (NRD) had the pleasure to host a webinar, bringing together experts on conducting research on WEF Nexus governance and very practical experience on cross-sectoral cooperation. The key question of the webinar was: How can cross-sectoral coordination and decision making successfully be integrated in governance structures? Providing both perspectives created space to draw connections and intersections among the disciplines – a true Nexus spirit.
About the Event
How can cross-sectoral coordination and decision making successfully be integrated in governance structures? To answer this question, two experts from both, science and practice revealed existing barriers, challenges and opportunities related to their work in the MENA region.
The June 23rd 2022, event was hosted by the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme and held within the FAO webinar series “Solutions Using Water-Energy-Food Nexus Approaches”. This was the 6th webinar of the 2nd round focused on examples and solutions by linking and applying the Water Energy Food (WEF) Nexus approach to timely interventions, technologies, and issues of importance. The success of both webinar series is built on continuously bringing in experts and institutions working with the WEF Nexus approach and thus providing various different perspectives and insights.
The webinar was moderated by Tina Schmiers, NRD communication specialist (GIZ). She had the pleasure to welcome Dr. Ines Dombrowsky from the German Institute for Development and Sustainability and Haneen Sa’deh, Energy Advisor from the Energy Efficient Water Sector Programme (EEWS) within GIZ. With a focus on the MENA region, both shared their work conducted in Jordan.
The Nexus Regional Dialogues (NRD) Programme, jointly funded by the European Union and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, aims to institutionalize the WEF Nexus approach in national and regional governance structures and investment decisions. The MENA region, being one of the most energy intensive and water and food deficient regions in the world, can greatly benefit from coherent and integrated resource management. The NRD works effortlessly to support cross-sectoral coordination in natural resource management at municipal, national and regional levels. This is done by facilitating dialogues and trainings for project planners, academia, and decision makers, formulating policy recommendations and developing WEF Nexus demonstration projects.
Nexus Institutionalization – big words! But what is behind it and what does it mean?
This intriguing question marked the opening speech of Irene Sander, NRD regional coordinator for the MENA region. She addressed how in the current time, a rather gloomy light is shed on water, energy and food security which is intensified by the ongoing Russia - Ukraine crisis. Economically, some MENA countries have close ties as trade partners and rely heavily on wheat imports from both countries. Price shocks due to uncertainties in wheat exports and yields as well as oil and gas price hikes pose tremendous risks, while water scarcity and climate change are ongoing threats to the region’s efforts to secure their livelihood. A joint management of water resources for agriculture or energy for water provision can provide the solution to those issues by boosting efficient and resource-saving production.
“With a Nexus-lens, we see sectors that share the same resources that jointly work together, from a very local to a policy level” (Irene Sander, NRD).
Bringing together science and policy perspectives on WEF Nexus projects in Jordan
Addressing WEF Nexus governance remains a challenge, despite increasing evidence on interlinkages between the sectors, limited progress towards coherent policies and actions is apparent. To better understand decision-making, power relations and coordination in socio-economic systems, Dr. Ines Dombrowsky provided insight into her research on the Nexus as a polycentric governance system. The underlying theory of having many centers of decision making which are formally independent but can functionally be interdependent applies to the WEF Nexus approach. Identifying what the conditions for achieving coordination and coherence among the water, energy, and food security strategies often remains context and case specific. Dr. Dombrowsky’s research on the intersectoral competition for groundwater in Azraq (Jordan) identified which factors influence decisions of different groundwater users and possible intervention points for a sustainable transition. To be able to continue to provide water for drinking supply, food and the environment as well as energy needed to pump water the analysis revealed the following: diversity of resource related governance actions, the monarchy’s underlying social contract and the informal concepts, influence outcomes on the ground. The concluding suggestion is to place interventions on different levels of governance (operational, collective and constitutional choice) which might prove to be more sensitive and effective to counter the deterioration of the resource security.
For more information on the study please download the presentation (available in the links below) or read through the published research article: Unravelling hidden factors explaining competition for and overuse of groundwater in Azraq, Jordan: digging deeper into a network of action situations.
The research perspective was complimented by input from Haneen Sa’deh from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), with practical insights to the work of an inter-ministerial working group on the interface of Water and Energy Nexus (WEN) in Jordan. On the ground, Jordan’s water sector is facing numerous challenges such as severe water scarcity, high non-revenue water, high electricity energy consumption causing high energy costs, and geopolitical tensions. At the same time, the main challenge for the energy sector is the high import of primary energy sources (93% in 2018), leaving the country to face operational and financial challenges and dependency on peaking units, renewable energy curtailment and a low-capacity factor for base units. To facilitate defining Nexus solutions, the Water-Energy dialogue was initiated, and a steering committee among the water and energy ministries was formed. Among the steering committee and technical working groups lies the coordination of achieving resource optimization by identifying win-win projects and developing integrated strategic plans. Currently two ongoing projects are supported and provided with Nexus studies: the ‘Pumped Hydro-electric Energy storage feasibility study’ and the ‘Electric Load Management at the Water Facilities prefeasibility study’. Taken from practical experience, among the key barrier identified for effective WEN Governance are different levels of interests and expectations among the officials, different development and influence levels among the sectors and lack of information of critical Nexus interlinkages.
For more details on the projects supported by the WEN Working group in Jordan, download the presentation slides (available in the links below) and read the factsheet: Energy Efficient Water Sector (EEWS) - Collaboration for enhanced energy management and effective Nexus Dialogue
The session ended with a brief round of questions, while some questions raised by the audience remained unanswered during the given time of the webinar, we have collected answers from both speakers available below.
Webinar material available for download:
- Presentation Dr. Ines Dombrowsky: WEF Nexus Governance as polycentric governance – conceptional foundations and empirical insights.
- Presentation Haneen Sa’Deh: The inter-ministerial Water-Energy working group in Jordan.
- Q&A: Questions from the Audience. Answers by Dr. Ines Dombrowsky and Haneen Sadeh
Watch the recording
Available on our Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme Youtube channel in English and French
Visit the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme in MENA project page to read more on the activities carried out in the region.
Relevant literature and documents
- Research Article // Unravelling hidden factors explaining competition for and overuse of groundwater in Azraq, Jordan: digging deeper into a network of action situations (By Daniel Oberhauser, Ramona Hägele and Ines Dombrowsky)
- Research Article // Analysing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus from a Polycentric Governance Perspective: Conceptual and Methodological Framework (By Srinivasa Reddy Srigiri and Ines Dombrowsky)
- Factsheet: Energy Efficient Water Sector (EEWS) - Collaboration for enhanced energy management and effective Nexus Dialogue