A South African’s perspective on the outcomes of the South African Nexus Conference
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South Africa // A South African's perspective on the outcomes of the South African Nexus Conference

The South African Water, Energy and Food forum could not have come at a more opportune time. COP17 has come and gone and with the new year in full swing, many remain doubtful about whether or not all the hype has left us with a successful outcome to the complicated international climate change negotiations process; and about what the outcomes to this process mean for business. <<--->> [i]by Aimée Girdwood[/i]

At the same time, it is clear that that the nexus is having a real effect on our economy as we struggle with a lack of energy, inefficient transportation, escalating food prices, ailing sanitation infrastructure and a lack of access to good quality water for many in our society.

These are my key take-aways from the conference:

1. The meaning and import of the nexus

For me, a somewhat novel topic of discussion in South Africa — it was refreshing to see the different sectors of business and government so well represented at a single forum to discuss their recognition of the interconnectedness of things, and the integrated nature of solutions that we require to take account of the nexus.

2. Policy and regulation is, and will continue to be, a major driver in dealing with the nexus and therefore the shift to a sustainable economy

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<<fotos/personen/g/girdwood_aimee_150_b.jpg|c|Aimée Girdwood>>

Aimée Girdwood

is an energy and sustainability advisory and legal specialist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

{www.girdwood.co.za}

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For so long the emphasis has principally been on our need to develop viable, proven and affordable low carbon, clean and sustainable technologies and solutions. While the continuous innovation and development of such solutions remains a vital agenda item, the core challenge in dealing with the nexus and the ambitious scaling up and implementation of solutions is the creation of an enabling environment. Integrated and coordinated policies and regulations are key — as a tool for an integrated management approach, as a signpost that provides clear and unambiguous signals as to the direction we are taking as a society, and as a catalyst to encourage better price signalling for investment.

The challenges in attaining an integrated, coordinated and singular policy and regulatory approach are enormous. Particularly in an environment where many believe our different governmental departments operate in silo's, the private sector complains of the burden of our regulatory environment and resultant costs of doing business in South Africa, and the implementation of much of our legislation remains a challenge.

3. The importance of educational disclosure

An integrated and adaptive approach to policy making, planning and management of the water, energy and food sectors requires us to determine our priorities and values, and then make decisions based on trade-off's of these priorities. Education and awareness about the nexus and a collective understanding of our values and priorities is therefore vital.

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