This post was originally posted on the CAREC website.
The water, energy, food and environment (WEFE) Nexus approach aims to create synergies and trade-offs for different sectors in order to improve water, energy and food security without causing damage to ecosystems. The Nexus approach compels us to think more long-term, providing room for multi-sectoral dialogue and negotiation. It thereby contributes to more robust institutions and coherent policymaking.
At the high-level conference in Dushanbe, the action panel was organized by FAO, IFAD and IWMI in collaboration with SIWI, UNECE/Water Convention and the Pacific Water Research Centre. Representatives of IWMI, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, UNESCO, UNECE, CAREC, Paraguayo de Itaipu Binacional and Earth Forever exchanged opinions on the following questions:
- What are the interdependencies across the water, energy, food and ecosystem sectors at national and transboundary levels?
- What are the knowledge gaps?
- What policies, governance structures and actions are needed and how can the Nexus be integrated into national policies?
- What are the technological innovations that address the Nexus?
- What is the role of the Nexus in the 2030 Agenda?
WEFE sectors are strongly interlinked. Actions in one sector commonly affect the other sectors. Water is used for energy production. Conversely, energy is needed for extracting, transporting, distributing and treating water. The production of food requires water and energy and agriculture is by far the largest user of water, accounting for 70% of worldwide water withdrawals. The agri-food sector energy demand is approximately one-third of the world’s total final energy demand.
However, plans are often developed without the consideration of similar initiatives in other sectors. This way of planning and implementation leads to asymmetries and tensions, sometimes even contradictory policies. It also generates additional financial costs, such as when infrastructure fails to address multiple purposes. Furthermore, additional funds are required to cover costs related to social or environmental risk management. A major issue is that investment financing needs for water, agriculture and energy infrastructure are generally considered separately.
Farkhod Abdurakhmonov, manager of CAREC’s Water Initiatives Support Program, noted CAREC’s activities in mainstreaming the WEF Nexus approach in Central Asia. These efforts are implemented with the support of the European Union and in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are largely achieved by intensifying the engagement of stakeholders for the promotion of integrated solutions that embrace water, energy and food security to reach environmentally sustainable economic development in the region.
As a result of the international conference, the final declaration “Promoting Action and Policy Dialogue” was adopted. The declaration stresses the need to manage water resources from source to sea around the water, food, energy and environment Nexus in an integrated and sustainable manner. This includes the promotion of the concept of a circular economy and other relevant resource-efficient solutions. The declaration calls for the prioritisation of water diplomacy and transboundary cooperation in line with the applicable principles of international law by strengthening inter alia the means of information and data exchange and open and inclusive multi-level and intersectoral dialogue in order to foster mutually-beneficial solutions and institutional arrangements.