After more than six years, the Nexus program in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is finishing its second and final phase. As part of the wider Nexus Regional Dialogue program, spanning five regions around the globe, the program seeks to promote a holistic and integrated approach to ensure inclusive and sustainable water, energy, and food security. In LAC, the program has successfully implemented a large and diverse number of initiatives to foster an inter-sectorial approach that takes into consideration Water, Energy and Food, as well as other critical aspects such as the environment. Co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the program has worked to promote a broader, inter-sectoral awareness and approach to foster water, energy and food access and sustainable development.
During the first phase, from 2016 to 2019, and acting together with our strategic partner UN-ECLAC, the program focused on developing knowledge products, gaining a deeper understanding and insight of the region, and disseminating awareness of the Nexus approach throughout the region. To launch the program, an intensive workshop was carried out with representatives from various countries, raising regional awareness and interest in the Water Energy Food (WEF) Nexus. A thorough survey of potential Nexus demonstration projects in the region was carried out, as well as a wide variety of in-depth knowledge products including a regional Nexus diagnosis, country specific studies, an analysis of solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) applications, studies on biodiversity and Nature Based Solutions, and Nexus case studies in various countries.
During its second phase, starting in 2020, the programme set out to demonstrate the benefits of the Nexus approach in action, disseminating the knowledge gained in the first phase, and training Nexus practitioners throughout the region in order to accelerate the application of the approach in relevant policy-making and investment planning processes.
Further research was carried out on Nexus in Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), Circular Economy, Value Chain of water, Nature-Based solutions, and biodiversity. At the same time, the Nexus approach was demonstrated in action through small-scale projects, including a solar-powered grain-drying facility in Ecuador, the rehabilitation of an ancestral lagoon together with an integral Nexus approach to improve living standards for a village in Peru, and the redesign of a waste-water treatment plant incorporating the reuse of grey water in the Dominican Republic. Cost-benefit analyses of these initiatives were carried out, thereby highlighting and documenting the value-added of multi-sectorial interventions.
The results of these and other Nexus studies and initiatives were presented at various events at national, regional, and global scales. Seven virtual Nexus theme-based forums were organized, as well as multiple in-person dialog events in Peru and Ecuador to raise awareness of the Nexus approach, related research, and demonstration projects. These initiatives and research results were also presented in several external events, such as “Mexico Actúa”, the UNECE Nexus solutions forum, the InterAmerican Congress on Sanitation and Environmental Engineering in Argentina, the Andean Community of Nations, and the World Water Week in Sweden.
Continuous training has also been at the forefront in Latin America and the Caribbean during the second phase of the Nexus program. An extensive, ten module “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC) course was developed covering all aspects of the WEF Nexus, which was completed by diverse participants throughout the hemisphere, while an intensive “Training of Trainers” course was delivered to select group of Nexus professionals in the region. In addition, Nexus games, which simulate real life Nexus challenges in a simulated environment, have been carried out with several government agencies both in Ecuador and in Chile. Participants from the many trainings carried out in the region have expressed great interest in sharing these lessons learned and disseminating the Nexus approach throughout their institutions, including possibly incorporating Nexus principles in the education curriculum and recreating Nexus games throughout the institutions.
Finally, to foster even more enthusiasm for the WEF-NEXUS and Nexus entrepreneurship in the region, the Nexus program organized and implemented a Nexus innovation lab to support the entrepreneurial Nexus spirit. LATAM4WEF, implemented together with SEEDSTARS and SAFEEM as well as Waterpreneurs, brought together innovators throughout the region in an intensive innovation lab and business development training to foster innovative Nexus ideas. The winning team was awarded a trip to meet with fellow Nexus professionals and financiers from around the world at the 2023 “Nexus Dialogue: Breaking the Silos for a Sustainable Tomorrow” event in Bonn, Germany, where lessons learned were shared with colleagues from Central Asia, South Africa, the Middle East, and the Niger Basin.
Overall, well over 100 people have been trained and more than 400 government representatives gained awareness of the WEF Nexus through Nexus events, presentations in external events, Nexus-specific trainings, Nexus studies, projects, and related publications. While the Nexus program itself has unfortunately come to an end, we are confident that the Nexus message and approach will continue to be heard through the enthusiastic Nexus Ambassadors throughout the region.
Note from the NRD: We want to thank Antonio Levy and Gloria Contreras Pasten for their dedication and hard work to make all of the above happen and above all for the many laughs we have enjoyed together!
- LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 4 : AiGROU wins Latam4WEF as top youth innovator for water, energy, and food security solutions
- Nexus Regional Dialogue LAC // Government entities in Chile discuss water, energy and food security through a social simulation
- Nexus Regional Dialogue LAC // IIGE, GIZ, and the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme present the implementation of a solar cocoa dryer in Tena, Ecuador
- Nexus Regional Dialogues LAC // IIGE and GIZ developed the second edition of the Nexus Dialogue Water, Energy and Food in Ecuador