The nexus of water-, energy- and food-security has been discussed and conceptualized for a long time, also in the context of climate change. There is broad agreement that a coordinated approach and cooperation across sectors can generate synergies and co-benefits and reduce negative externalities. A coordinated approach is much needed, especially in the MENA (Middle East - North Africa) region, as it faces pressing resource degradation and scarcities, severe climate risk, various other security issues and ongoing transformations of water, energy and agricultural systems.
Inspired by the broad agreement, the challenge is now to operationalize and implement the nexus. That is best done through a process of integrating or mainstreaming nexus principles and tools into ongoing and newly designed strategies, policies and activities. To this end the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement offers a number of concrete entry points, important ones being countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the NDC partnership with more than 40 partner countries (and Morocco as a pilot country). Nexus principles and tools can add significant value to countries’ planning and implementation efforts, including by facilitating the integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation.
These ideas were discussed at a side event at COP22, organised by GIZ, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) and GFA Consulting Group. A follow up workshop, organized in collaboration with the NDC Partnership, will be held in early 2017 to make the suggestions made at the COP22 side event more concrete.
The application of the nexus approach to the NDCs (and also National Adaptation Plans – NAPs) has political, institutional, economic, technical, scientific, financial and capacity building dimensions. All of these require coordination and cooperation among partners. The COP22 side event identified the following challenges, opportunities and solutions, related to these different dimensions:
Policy making and governance: there are significant institutional barriers to stronger integration across sectors, including well established “silos” in which policy making mostly takes place; bridging mechanism therefore need to be developed or strengthened, to be informed by political economy and policy analysis and research;
Economics: economic dimensions include opportunities for a nexus approach to support green growth, for example through improved resource efficiencies; subsidies were presented as a potential obstacle to such improvements, with knock-on effects across sectors;
Finance: the entities operating the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC are mandated to address both, climate change adaptation and mitigation; however there needs to be better support for integrated solutions and improved eligibility for funding; the nexus evidence base can be of use here;
Private sector and industry: the private sector is a key actor and innovator for nexus solutions; various companies are committed to practical implementation of the nexus; interesting examples for integrated planning and management across sectors include water and energy utilities, as well as integrated climate insurance schemes;
Technology (transfer) and infrastructure: a potential game changer for the region is desalination based on renewable energy; other technical nexus solutions with potential for transfer and upscaling across the region include energy recovery from wastewater and solar water pumping; the Sahara Forest Project is now beginning to transfer initial experience among countries;
Science: science (including social science) can contribute a rich evidence base to nexus implementation; relevant knowledge communities include those of integrated modeling, integrated assessments, data integration and institutional analysis;
Capacity building: the Nexus Resource Platform provides a useful starting point for establishing communities of practice, for facilitating cooperation and for helping to deal with the complexity of a nexus approach; for the integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation, the Moroccan Center of Competence for Climate Change (4C) is a particularly helpful platform, which also serves the wider region. The Regional Knowledge Network on Water also provides also some relevant resources on the nexus and systemic approaches.
The COP22 side event provided not only concrete examples and entry points for operationalizing the nexus in policy making and practice, it also brought together nexus champions from different sectors and societal groups. These champions are instrumental in spearheading future nexus implementation in Morocco and the wider MENA region.