Commentary // Water-Energy-Food Nexus Framework for facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue

By Rabi H. Mohtar and Bassel Daher. Present policy making often lacks the necessary mechanisms to incorporate the interlinkages between water, energy and food. The different institutions governing resource allocation often do not communicate with one another, creating a lack of integrated planning, allocation nd management of these key resources. Although the scientific community has made serious efforts to identify and quantify the interlinkages between resource systems, there continues to be a wide gap between science and policy making in effectively communicating those findings for proper incorporation in planning agendas.

This science-to-policy gap could be reduced through improved exchange and the integration of scientific data and policy considerations into inclusive tools that address policy objectives and are technically viable from the perspective of sustainable resource utilization.

Global debates have placed economic security, in which water, energy and food security are the main constituent pillars, on a par with physical security threats, such as terrorism and disease. Water, energy and food security are high on the agendas of global think tanks – identified as critical, interconnected risks that need to be addressed.

The InterAction Council identified the water-energy-food nexus as one of the major risks facing our global community, alongside religious divides and nuclear proliferation. Moreover, Global Risk reports from 2007 through 2015 highlight food crises, water scarcity and energy shocks among the top five risks to the modern world in terms of likelihood and impact.

Awareness of the volume of present and expected challenges has grown in multiple circles, including academic, policy, business, and civil society. Nevertheless, the tools and mechanisms to ensure that these challenges are properly addressed have yet to be developed.

In general, policy and decision makers lack access to a set of comprehensive tools that:

  • are inclusive of all stakeholders and correspond to the multi-scale nature of the nexus, from local to regional, national, or global
  • are able to define and quantify the interconnectivity between water, energy and food resources
  • include integrative and holistic management strategies to plan for future allocation of these resources.


Texas A&M University (TAMU) website (open access)

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