In an Asian Development Blog, ADB South Asia Department Principal Energy Specialist Jiwan Acharya said considering the water, food, energy nexus is critical for the growth and development of countries.
Merging these initiatives will also help countries maximize their resources. Eradicating hunger and poverty are also part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which countries like the Philippines are struggling to meet due to the pandemic.
“Governments are seeking to address this with increased food production and access to water and energy to lift the rural population out of poverty,” Acharya said.
“Towards this goal, they have subsidized water and energy for rural populations, leading to inefficient use and degradation of resources. While respecting national agendas for socio-economic development in rural areas [by subsidizing water and energy], it is essential to ensure that the resource base is sustained, greenhouse gas emissions are restrained, and water-borne diseases are checked,” he explained.
Apart from merging initiatives, Acharya said, there is a need for governments to incorporate water, food, and energy in their planning for socioeconomic development.
He added that executive agencies for water, food, and energy should also work closely with higher-level agencies, such as the finance or planning ministries, which might have a broader overview and mandate.
“Developing policy instruments while considering the nexus of water, energy and food have been the goal of many planners but it is constrained by data, information, and knowledge gaps. Furthermore, political and administrative responsibilities among ministries are not necessarily conducive,” Acharya said. “Planners need to find ways to move forward with minimum interruption to existing bureaucracies.”
In 2020, the United Nations and ADB said the Philippines is encountering many “last mile” challenges when it comes to achieving the SDGs.
The Philippines was deemed a “last miler” in achieving energy decarbonization and universal access to energy; promoting sustainable urban and peri-urban development; and securing the global environmental commons.
The country was deemed an aspirant in strengthening human well-being and capabilities and building sustainable food systems and healthy nutrition patterns.
The report said the Philippines was considered a sprinter in shifting towards sustainable and just economies.
The UN said Covid-19 is bound to have a significant impact in meeting the SDGs. The pandemic has already caused economies to post GDP growth contractions and is expected to increase the number of poor worldwide.
The report gauged the performance of countries and economies in meeting the SDGs. They evaluated this performance of meeting the SDGs in terms of six transformative points —strengthening human well-being and capabilities; shifting towards sustainable and just economies; and building sustainable food systems and healthy nutrition patterns.
This article was first published on the Business Mirror website on January 19, 2022.