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“Each of the Water, Energy and Food sectors should appreciate, that they can only achieve real impact together”. (Dr. Dumsani Mndzebele, SADC)
How can an integrated natural resource management approach – such as the Water-Energy-Food security Nexus – be successfully implemented in regional governance structures? And how does the WEF Nexus support to overcome natural resource challenges in different regions?
The Nexus Regional Dialogues (NRD) Programme hosted an exciting session at the 9th World Water Forum to answer these questions. It focused on multi-level Nexus governance to ensure stability and sustainability in shared waters. The diverse panel included representatives of the five regional dialogues of the NRD programme: Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and Nothern Africa (MENA), the Niger Basin and Southern Africa. Common challenges but also opportunities were identified amongst the regions such as the importance of sharing a common vision by all involved sectors and states. Additionally, the concrete added benefit of the WEF Nexus by enhancing resource efficiency and resource security was highlighted.
The session was opened by the moderator, Robert Kranefeld, Regional Coordinator for the Nexus Regional Dialogue within the Niger Basin from the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Christopher Wenzel, Deputy Head of Division for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development held the opening remarks. Acknowledging that neither water nor climate change know human-made border, he highlighted the importance of decision-making at local, national and regional levels while considering the interdependencies between the Water Energy and Food sectors to promote sustainable resource management.
Solving the WEF Nexus puzzle - Insights from five different regions
The first speaker from Central Asia, Mr. Ilhom Juraev, Representative of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea from the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Programme (CAREC), took the floor and highlighted that Phase II of the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme is focused on the practical application of Nexus tools through implementation of WEF Nexus pilot projects. The Tuyamuyun hydroelectric complex between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is a prime example of the WEF nexus approach. It provides seasonal regulation of the availability of water and energy resources necessary for farms and crop cultivation. However, extreme temperatures and droughts will have a major impact on agriculture and energy management. Land degradation and heavy rainfall increases sedimentation. Transboundary water management with a WEF Nexus approach plays therefore an important role in the resource management by offering innovative solutions, such as the cleaning and utilising bottom sediments which can help reduce agricultural costs.
Find more information on the Tuyamuyun hydroelectric complex project here.
The second speaker was Ambassador Shahira Wahbi, Chief of Natural Resources Sustainability Partnerships and Disaster Risk Reduction from the League of Arab States (LAS). Given the fact that the Arab region is characterized by an arid and extremely variable climate with increasing pressure on water resources, she stated that “the challenges to achieve agricultural transitions cannot be overcome without being water and energy smart. The WEF Nexus approach is our opportunity [to be smart].” Adopting a Nexus approach could, according to her, boost capabilities of institutions, teach relevant authorities at all levels and institutionalise good governance of natural resources. Resource efficiency could only be increased by acknowledging the overlap between different resources.
The Niger Basin Region was represented by Mr. Niandou Mounkaila, Technical Director of the Niger Basin Authority. He began his address with a brief overview of the Basin’s specificities. He highlighted that to implement an efficient Nexus program within the NBA, it is necessary to have a clear vision, tools to accurately implement the latter, programme and planning documents for the strategic, operational and investment of said vision, as well as good governance. The NBA’s Water Charter and its five annexes serve as guidance for a common vision among its nine member states. The Fifth annex adopted last year highlights possibilities of joint infrastructure benefiting all member states. The NBA’s strategic documents already include many elements of the WEF Nexus approach.
The following contribution (per video input), from the Latin and Caribbean region was given by Dr. Silvia L. Saravia Matus, Economic Affairs Officer in the Water and Energy Unit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL). She began her address by highlighting the necessity of the WEF Nexus approach in order to achieve the key goals of water management transition in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Nexus approach would foster coordination across different sectors and clarify priorities such as the human right to water. One should note that in situations of scarcity water should be prioritised for human consumption. She closed by stressing how Nexus helps to consider various economic instruments (taxes and fines) and to promote inter-sector investment.
CEPAL developed regional WEF Nexus guidelines which can be downloaded here (in Spanish): Guía metodológica Diseño de acciones con enfoque del Nexo entre agua, energía y alimentación para países de América Latina y el Caribe
“A shared vision by all sectors involved is a precondition for WEF Nexus institutionalization in the SADC region”
The final region of Southern Africa saw an address by Dr. Dumsani Mndzebele, Programme Officer in Water Directorate of Infrastructure with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). He highlighted the preconditions for the institutionalisation of a Nexus approach in the SADC region. Firstly, a shared vision is required by all WEF Nexus sectors, including a vision of poverty eradication and willingness to uplift the standards of living of local communities. Secondly, recognising the equality of all sectors, achieved through the principal of co-leadership. Coordination between all sectors is necessary to bring change and have an impact.
SADC endorsed a WEF Nexus regional governance framework. Find more information here.
“The principle of co-leadership and equality of all WEF sectors is important”
A second intervention from CAREC was held by a representative of Kyrgystan to highlight how the Nexus approach can be applied to policy documents to support the management of the regional Tuyamuyun hydroelectric multi-structural dam. Significant institutional transformations have been made regarding the WEF Nexus approach for sustainable economic development, the National Council on Water and Land Resources was established to improve coordination between ministries and state agencies on management, the use and protection of land and water resources.
Dr. Emad Adly from the Network of Civil Society Organisations (RAED) in the League of Arab States referenced the session’s title -Solving the Rubik’s Cube – stating that only local communities have the ability to solve the puzzle as they are the key actors at play regarding the different sectors. The role of Civil Society Organisations would be to act as a liaison and illustrate the linkages between the communities and the policy level. He highlighted success stories are found on a small scale but there remains the possibility to transfer such success to a medium and large scale.
The final points of the session aimed to highlight potential solutions needed to implement a regional Nexus approach. The Nexus governance framework developed for SADC allows for an elaborate overview of all parties to understand the interaction between regional development strategies. The NBA representative stated that it requires the development of a Nexus framework through participatory and inclusive process., So far there is the development of Nexus guidelines currently underway to be examined and then approved by each of the nine member states through the Nexus national dialogues.
“What the Nexus is telling us is, that colourful is good! Sustainable and efficient management of natural resources requires the rubik´s cube to become colourful!” - Irene Sander, Global Nexus Secretariat, GIZ
A closing statement was given by Irene Sander, Global Nexus Secretariat Coordinator of the Nexus Regional Dialogue at GIZ, she stated that sustainable and efficient management of natural resources requires different levels of Nexus governance.
Recording of the session:
Read more on the topic of WEF Nexus institutionalization:
- Nexus Blog // Review of the second online webinar on WEF Nexus solutions: Cooperation across borders and sectors
- Nexus Blog // “Water, Energy and Food for Thought” - Launch of NRDs new webinar series
- Nexus News // Water and Energy Ministers Meeting approves the SADC WEF-Nexus Governance Framework developed by GWPSA
- Discussion Paper // Governance of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus for an Integrated Implementation of the 2030 Agenda