The Joint Research Centre (JRC) and European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) have recently launched a Position Paper on the Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Highlighting the key outcomes of exchanges with experts held in 2018, the Paper aims to launch a dialogue on how to operationalise the WEFE Nexus.
The WEFE Nexus describes the close interlinkages of the water, energy, and food sectors, and how they rely on and impact ecosystems.
The Nexus approach highlights the interdependencies between achieving water, energy and food security for human well-being, e. g. basic services and economic development, while ensuring ecologically sustainable use of globally essential resources.
It is based on an understanding of the synergies and trade-offs between competing uses of water, land and energy-related resources. The Nexus approach is a fundamental shift, from a pure sectoral approach to solutions that embrace a cross-sectoral, coherent and integrated perspective.
On 25 and 26 January 2018, experts on WEFE from universities, international organisations and the European Commission came together to share experiences and ideas and to launch a dialogue on the WEFE Nexus methodology and how it can support the implementation of the SDGs.
They shared and discussed lessons learned, unresolved challenges and possible solutions regarding the application of a Nexus approach to projects and programming based on pilot studies carried out in the regions that are the focus of the Regional NEXUS Dialogue programme (Africa (Niger River Basin and Southern Africa), Latin America, South-East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa).
The meeting addressed three themes:
The case studies covered issues at national, regional and transboundary levels, including rural and urban contexts. They provided valuable examples of how information from various data sources (such as ICT and hydro-climate modelling, energy and agriculture) can be integrated to provide tools that can help achieve water security, and identify and implement WEFE Nexus opportunities.
Collaboration must be more than just a buzzword: it is a common need.
The studies particularly highlighted the need for cooperation among stakeholders and decision-makers from various sectors.
It was acknowledged that there are challenges with a modelling approach and that data collection and new collaborative model development needs to be improved. The flexibility of the qualitative analysis was also examined to ensure that this approach can address more than two aspects (energy, agriculture, ecosystems) at a time, thereby stimulating dialogues and discussions between the different sectors and stakeholders.
The experts then examined fundamental WEFE Nexus approaches and how they interconnect with specific SDGs (i.e. 2, 6 and 7). This provided a framework for exploring how a WEFE Nexus approach can be applied and support the implementation of the SDGs.
This Position Paper, which highlights the key outcomes of these exchanges, identifies the key policy areas outlined in the New European Consensus on Development (June 2017) that are relevant to the WEFE Nexus.
The experts’ discussions showed that the Nexus approach ensures a more integrated and sustainable use of resources that goes beyond traditional silos and can be applied at different scales. This is particularly relevant in an increasingly globalised world where collaboration must be more than just a buzzword: it is a common need.
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