Hannah has been working with the Nexus Team since August 2022. Her role is to advise the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on the Nexus between Water, Rural Development and Food Security. Before joining the Nexus Team, she worked as a Policy Officer in the international division at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, where she was responsible for the cooperation with Eastern Europe, Central- and Western Asia. Prior to that, she has worked as an Advisor for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), where she worked on Water Resource Management and Transboundary Water Management in Iran and Afghanistan.
She holds a Master’s degree in International Security from Sciences Po Paris with a regional focus on Western Asia. Hannah is fluent in German, French and English and has a very good knowledge of Persian and Arabic.
Jakob has been working with the Nexus team since 2020. His main tasks include policy advice to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development on the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus as well as support of the Frexus project. Prior to this position, he has been working with the GIZ sector programme Sustainable Water Policy. Jakob has a background in political science as well as integrated natural resource management. His practical experiences include research on social aspects of water supply management in Jordan as well as sustainability efforts of water utilities (Berliner Wasserbetriebe).
How would you describe your role as WEF Nexus policy advisor and how does this support the role of the Global Nexus Secretariat?
The work of the GNS takes place on many levels – from local pilot projects to regional policy dialogues. In addition, there is the enormous geographical reach with five regions on different continents. I therefore see my role as a policy advisor largely as a communication role, because it is about translating the current processes, the most important messages, the long-term learnings to a political level. Our aim is to show how the water, energy and food sectors are interrelated and why intersectoral cooperation is so important. This requires clear messages and a summary of complex interrelationships. Specifically, I need a good overview of our different Nexus projects, but also the needs and interests of our clients, the BMZ and the EU. Since the GNS has a very broad mandate, it is necessary to always be able to report concisely and meaningfully. In this way, I can support the colleagues in linking the work on the ground with the bigger picture of political processes.
As Jakob has already rightly mentioned, the dynamics of coupled systems, and in this case the interrelationships between water, energy and food are complex. Our work is to translate this complexity into concrete policy recommendations and hereby underline the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation in order to achieve sustainability in all three sectors. Here, experience from the ground, as for example from the different regional policy dialogues as well as the implemented pilot projects plays an important role in shaping the narrative.
How does policy advice support the implementation of the WEF Nexus approach? Can you mention a specific example?
First of all, it is helpful to remember that working in sectors is still taken for granted in the political context. At GIZ, too, we often structure our work within these thematic boundaries! And there are understandable reasons for this. But in order to implement projects at the intersection of water, energy and agriculture in the long term, we therefore need changes at a structural, political level. I would therefore see policy advice as a very long-term process. However, raising awareness of sector cooperation is a continuous process in which we also deliver in the short term. I am thinking of conferences or political meetings. We are currently seeing definite progress at the interface of water and food security, and the topic is rightly finally receiving more attention.
In your opinion, what are current and future challenges for the institutionalisation of the WEF Nexus approach from a policy perspective, and why?
I think one of the bigger challenges is to move from general recognition of the WEF nexus concept to impact on the ground. When we explain that intersectoral cooperation is important, most people agree with us – but then, achieving binding, impactful results is a much more difficult step. Unfortunately, everyone understands the concept differently. While this has its advantages – the approach is flexible and not strictly fenced off – it also makes it difficult to be very clear about our goals. We often encounter the idea that the WEF Nexus has to include some innovative technology, solar-powered irrigation systems or something. But the WEF Nexus can also be "invisible", for example, if you successfully align the management of a dam or access to a natural resource with the needs of different stakeholders in different sectors. But if we can maintain flexibility and make the WEF Nexus deliver visible results, we will be well positioned for the future.
In my opinion, there is still a gap between the Nexus literature and the governance process. As Jakob stated, most of the people agree with us, when it comes to the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation. However, and I think everyone of us has experienced that in their day-to-day life, that working with a multitude of people with different backgrounds, who might have different interests is complex and can be exhausting. Therefore, I think that there has to be a genuine understanding of the benefits. These benefits have to be demonstrated and quantified for example by pilot projects, as these implemented by GNS. However, I think that the challenge now lies in moving from small-scale pilot projects to large-scale projects. And here the necessary access to finance and larger private sector investments is key.
Thank you, Jakob and Hannah, for taking the time to answer these questions!
More Information on the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme
- NRD Factsheet
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme // New Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus Training Material
Read more interviews from the series
- Nexus Interview Series // Maria Ana Rodriguez, Head of the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme
- Nexus Interview Series // Irene Sander, Coordinator of the Global Nexus Secretariat
- Nexus Interview Series // Antonio Levy, Regional Coordinator in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Nexus Interview Series // Ludmilla Kiktenko, Regional Coordinator Central Asia
- Nexus Interview Series // Desire Sengoga, Regional Advisor for the support to the integrated management of water resources of lake Kivu and Ruzizi river
- Nexus Interview Series // Shamiso Kumbirai, SDG Water Investments Officer at Global Water Partnership Southern Africa