The 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, which are universal, people-centred and seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender quality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. The agenda calls for a new approach based on integrated solutions that are sustainable and inclusive.
This desired and bold approach is well supported by the water-energy-food security nexus. This examines the links between the three sectors, looking to improve the holistic management of natural resources and associated ecosystems by applying a human rights-based perspective and taking into account climate change impacts. The nexus highlights the interdependencies between the water, energy and food sectors, and the need to pursue an integrated management framework across the three sectors.
The water-energy-food security nexus framework is particularly suited to the Arab region given the stressors, constraints and strong interdependencies between sectors. It is further necessitated by the cross-sectoral effect of climate change predicted for the region. The understanding of the dynamics of the water and energy sectors it offers is essential for developing effective strategies for the sustainable use of these resources.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), as part of efforts to help member countries achieve an integrated approach to the SDGs, is implementing a project to develop their capacity to examine and address the water and energy nexus.
This is being pursued through two parallel and complementary tracks. The first targets high-level officials in ministries for water and energy who will be trained on how to incorporate the nexus in policies and strategies at national and regional levels through a regional policy toolkit. This is comprised of seven modules – of which this is the first – based on priorities identified by an intergovernmental consultative meeting in 2012. The seven priorities were subsequently endorsed by the ESCWA Committee on Water Resources, and the Committee on Energy. They cover the following topics, which are addressed in the toolkit:
- Knowledge and Awareness Raising
- Increasing Policy Coherence
- Examining the Water-Energy Security Nexus
- Increasing Efficiency
- Informing Technology Choices
- Promoting Renewable Energy
- Addressing Climate Change and Natural Disasters