event 25 Oct 2021

Nexus Blog // Review of the second online webinar on WEF Nexus solutions: Cooperation across borders and sectors

How can the WEF Nexus be institutionalized into governance structures? How can the benefits of the WEF Nexus approach intensify transboundary cooperation? This article reflects on the second round of the webinar series on Water, Energy, and Food (WEF) Nexus solutions which tackled these questions on October 19, 2021. Hosted by the Nexus Regional Dialogues programme, jointly funded by the European Union and BMZ, organized together with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and the WEF Nexus in Africa Initiative. This session counted 135 participants.

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The second online webinar on Water, Energy, and Food Nexus solutions focused on providing insights on how to successfully mainstream and institutionalize the Water, Energy, and Food (WEF) security Nexus approach into governance structures. The webinar presented different approaches for the transboundary cooperation on and governance of WEF Nexus from three different regions: Southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the Niger Basin.

The key questions raised in the session were:

  • What are the necessary steps to establish and endorse a Nexus governance framework/structure?
  • How can the benefits of the WEF Nexus approach initiate or intensify transboundary cooperation?
  • What are the lessons learnt?

The session started with a presentation by Didier Zinsou, Director of the Observatory of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), sharing experiences on how WEF Nexus evaluation criteria supported the decision-making for project screening. With the support of the EU and German co-funding since 2016, supported by the GIZ, the NBA is integrating the Nexus approach into their operational planning. In 2018, Nexus tools were used to strengthen the multi-sectoral approach in the Operational Plan, which includes 350 projects across the basin. A risk and options assessment process was used for decision-making to better understand and manage the complex risks associated with food, energy, environment, and water systems.

Phase II of the Nexus Regional Dialogues programme aims to institutionalize the Nexus approach in the work of the NBA, specifically through the adoption of a Nexus resolution by the NBA council of ministers and heads of states, and through capacity building at the NBA and member country level. Nine national workshops are planned, followed by a regional workshop until the Technical Committee of Experts meeting in 2022 where the final version of the Nexus resolution will be validated.

Next up, Shamiso Kumbirai, SDG Water Investments Specialist at Global Water Partnership Southern Arica (GWPSA), outlined how SADC has adopted a WEF Nexus Governance Framework. She expressed the importance of a WEF Nexus approach, as a regional transformation is vital for meeting Southern Africa’s growing resource demand amid some of the most severe impacts of climate change. The Nexus Regional Dialogue Southern Africa, implemented by GWPSA, started in 2017 and is currently in its second phase. After developing a regional framework for the WEF Nexus approach at the SADC level, the second phase is using a WEF Nexus approach to drive investment projects in the region. The expected contribution in the region is aimed at facilitating simultaneous achievements of water, energy, and food security. The WEF Nexus investment project screening tool developed was tested by member states and was used to identify around 15 investment projects that have WEF Nexus potential.

This presentation was ended by outlining the key lesson that emerged from the SADC region:

Adopting a WEF Nexus approach is a long process that requires clear definitions of the scope and objectives of the nexus approach, continuous multi-stakeholder and sectoral dialogue, and high-level political support and ownership.

Silvia Saravia Matus and Lisbeth Naranjo, respectively Economic Affairs Officer and Consultant at ECLAC, presented the methodological guideline created by ECLAC that serves as a roadmap to promote the adoption and evaluation of integrated planning approaches within LAC. The guideline offers solutions to strengthen the institutional and regulatory capacities of governments in the region to adopt the WEF Nexus approach.

As of 2019, ECLAC began exploring a more operational side of the Nexus approach. This is vital within the region as an estimated 70% of rivers, lakes, and water bodies are transboundary.

An adoption of the WEF Nexus approach would enable an alignment of the objectives and measures to achieve more coherent, effective, and sustainable actions and therefore optimize available resources

The identified challenges included: the little evidence on the benefits of adopting integrated approaches, compared to the amount of evidence on the costs and impacts of sectoral policies, and the lack of culture on policy evaluation. The methodological tool was therefore developed by CEPAL in order to address these challenges through its two objectives:  

  • strengthen institutional capacities in the design, implementation, and evaluation of WEF Nexus actions in the field (The What), and
  • illustrate a collection of methodologies and case studies that can be done to design actions and evaluate results (The How)

The full guide is available here, where you can read about the case studies undertaken across LAC.


The session rounded off with a panel discussion with the speakers, who were joined by Claudia Ringler, Deputy Division Director & Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to answer questions from the audience. Ringler made a compelling point on the need for an institutionalized WEF Nexus approach in transboundary governance. She brought up the point that ministries remain single mandate ministries, and institutionalization would allow WEF Nexus indicators to be considered in policy making, and this is vital at both the national as well as the transboundary level. “Regions can’t afford to keep single sector thinking”, she emphasized.

Claudia Ringler, Deputy Division Director & Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Silvia Saravia Matus stressed the importance of creating research-based evidence, using real data, to gauge not only economic impact, but also social and environmental impact. “It’s always easier to measure economic impact, but we need to move forward to make sure we have measures for environmental impacts for our decisions”, demonstrating that this strategy of providing evidence would allow for stakeholders to see precise measures of the benefits of a WEF Nexus approach.

Tina Schmiers of the Nexus Regional Dialogues project brought the session to a close by emphasizing the value added that WEF Nexus brings to the participating members. Overall, the webinar brought valuable insights regarding the benefits of the WEF Nexus approach in regional and transboundary structures. The second online webinar on Water, Energy, and Food Nexus solutions gave us insight on the progress that the three regions are making to institutionalize a collective, rather than sector specific, approach.


Watch the recorded session here:

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