event 19 févr. 2013

Nexus Interview // A Water-Energy-Food Nexus Tool

"This tool provides a common space and a platform for different decision making entities to create various scenarios and predict their resource demands. A scenario is composed of the choice of food self-sufficiencies for locally consumed food products, choice of water and energy sources, as well as countries of import," says Rabi Mohtar, Executive Director of Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI)

category Nexus Interviews
Nexus mena jordan
GIZ
NEXUS Platform: At the WFES representatives of the Qatar Government have very much argued in favour of a water-energy-food Nexus approach. Could you please give us some background why this is of particular importance for Qatar? How is the water-energy-food Nexus linked to the socio-economic development and to safeguarding the environment in your country? Rabi Mohtar is Executive Director of Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI). // QEERI Website Dr Rabi Mohtar: The State of Qatar is enjoying a period of unprecedented growth and advancement governed by set national visions and goals. Qatar is a country that is well recognized for its oil and gas abundance, yet also known for its aridity, water scarcity, and extreme environmental conditions. "Economic development and protection of the environment are two demands neither of which should be sacrificed for the sake of the other. Qatar's National Vision will choose the development path that carefully balances the interests of the current generation with the interests of future generations." (The General Secretariat for Development Planning, State of Qatar, 2011). These perspectives are stated as part of the goals in the Qatar National Vision 2030 issued by the General Secretariat for Development Planning in 2008. In order to strike that balance and sustain our growth, we need to understand how different systems are connected and what the tradeoffs that exist between them are. Qatar currently imports more than 90% of its food needs. Different risks are accompanied with this high reliance on imports to sustain supply for local consumption. Increasing local production is a decision that requires comprehensive understanding of the concerned interconnected systems. Agriculture is a high water consumer. Water is needed for producing energy. Energy is needed to secure needed water through pumping, or desalination, or other. Energy is also needed for agricultural production and transport. Water, energy, and food are three highly connected systems. Integrative planning is thus a must in order to ensure sustainable growth is achieved while eliminating unintended consequences. Your institute is developing a water-energy-food nexus tool with a view to provide decision support for the Qatar Government. What are the features of this tool and what kind of relevant information the tool is going to provide to decision makers? This tool provides a common space and a platform for different decision making entities to create various scenarios and predict their resource demands. A scenario is composed of the choice of food self-sufficiencies for locally consumed food products, choice of water and energy sources, as well as countries of import. The tool output doesn't only provide a financial cost to a given scenario. It goes beyond that to quantify water requirements (m3), local energy requirements (kJ) and carbon emissions (ton CO2), land requirements (ha), energy consumption through import (kJ), carbon emissions through import (ton CO2). Based on the relative importance of reducing any of these "costs", the tool user is able to create a "sustainability index" for each of the scenarios and decide on a most favourable one for adoption. The tool also provides a visual comparison of different resources for different scenarios. A beta version of the framework has been available for the public on QEERI's website since the last COP-18 in Doha. Several workshops and presentations for the tool's use and WEF nexus concept were held at the time, with the goal of engaging relevant stakeholders in the process of refining tool output. Do you have any early experience on how your tool can make a difference in strategy and policy development? We started with a case study, looking at 8 locally produced food products, grown with different water and energy sources, and imported from several countries. We ran multiple scenarios with different input variations which gave us some conclusions like: increasing the self-sufficiency of the studied food products would increase land requirement by 153% and water requirement by 82%. Defining the bottleneck depends on the foreseen planning in terms of upgrading current capacities and investing in new technologies. That's where the choice of going through one scenario or another, or the policies for adopting new ways to secure water or energy could be decided. Such decisions need to be verified and authenticated before properly communicating them to decision makers in the ministries and decision making entities in order to ensure availability of resources for the interconnected sectors. Are there any intentions to share this tool with other countries in your region or to test its feasibility even in countries with different climatic conditions? Have you already established partnerships or are you still looking for partners? The framework is built on a generic concept that regards the existent water, energy and food interconnectedness. Thus the application is not only limited to Qatar. Different limitations and constraints change form one location to another. We intend to develop partnerships to challenge the concept and refining it by involving and applying case studies for different eco-zones in the MENA region and elsewhere. Ideally these countries will represent different eco-zones and climates. This would give us the ability to compare among resource demands for different scenarios in each of the countries, and develop a set of policy recommendations. Initial discussions of partnerships have been established with three centers in the region and we would be glad to partner with further centers to further test the tool and broaden the case study. Such partnerships would allow us to refine the framework, collect relevant data and further develop a more robust tool.
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Cecilia Vey

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