"Solutions Are More Than Just a Dream"
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Bonn2011 // "Solutions Are More Than Just a Dream"

The Second Day of the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference

"Is this all just a big dream?" facilitator Margaret Catley-Carlson asked panelists at Thursday's Ministerial Plenary, "How to Make it Work," about addressing water, food and energy security challenges.

The panelists insisted that it could be done. "Yes, we can," said Kenyan Minister of Water and Irrigation Charity Ngilu, who must balance competing demands for water use within her own ministry, as well demand from the energy sector. She said strong political will would be needed to meet the challenge.

"It is not a dream," insisted Sulton Rahimov, Tajikistan's First Deputy Minister of Melioration and Water Resources. His country has abundant water resources but faces energy scarcity — and it must carry out delicate negotiations with its downstream neighbors over transboundary issues. He said new challenges such as climate "will force us to do it."

Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiar of Benin, echoes Rahimov's sentiments: "It is not a dream, it is reality." "We are working at all levels on the issue," he said.

"It'll be tough," said Habib Ouane, Mali's Minister of Energy and Water added. "We are at a critical threshold... leadership is needed."

Hans Jürgen Beerfeltz, State Secretary at the Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the nexus challenge should be seen as "a big chance." "Putting problems together gives us a chance to use one to solve another," he said.

The plenary took the form of a nuts-and-bolts discussion in which the officials described the interlinked water, food and energy problems faced by their countries how they "made it work" in each individual context.

New Rwandan Minister of State in Charge of Water and Energy Emma Françoise Isumbingabo explained that her country had achieved what Catley-Carlson described as an agricutural revolution by designing a policy of decentralization and "getting everyone involved at all levels." Capacity remains a challenge in implementing the country's Vision 2020 targets, she said.

André Flajelot, French Parliamentarian in charge of the 6th World Water Forum and President of the French National Water Committee, said that in the past the water sector had worked in isolation and made some progress, but it was not enough. He described how his organization had created basin organizations, which are overseen by "water parliaments" involving all stakeholders.

Ngilu said her major challenges had been lack of funding and organization. She has substantially increased the budget for her ministry. She noted that the government had good policies in place for issues like "land grabs;" the problem lies in implementation of these policies.

Rahimov said it was Tajikistan's policy "to solve all problems" with regard to the nexus through "good cooperation" with its neighbors.

Ouane said he saw a need for designing a nexus-based governance agenda, with all relevant institutions included.

Zinsou said the Least Developed Countries were "engaged in finding local solutions to our problems," but donor partners can help with what cannot be accomplished at the local level.

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