The water-energy-food nexus: experts tackle the complexities

From: The Guardian

In a recent live online debate, panelists discussed the current state of play for nexus thinking, highlighting compelling projects and future challenges

The triple challenge of energy supplies, water stress and food security is becoming increasingly important at a global level. In a recent live chat on the water-energy-food nexus, experts shared positive, practical examples of policy and on-the-ground projects happening now and commented on what the future holds.

Is recent progress on nexus thinking encouraging?

There are a multitude of actors involved in nexus debates, from NGOs, government and business to academia and civil society, and big conversations are happening.

The panel agreed that the environmental, social and policy challenges around energy, food and water have been there for some time, but they’re becoming increasingly urgent. Dave Tickner, chief freshwater advisor at WWF-UK, felt that while the alarming statistics connected to the nexus were very worrying, “…the silver lining is that what might have been dismissed as an ‘environmental’ issue a decade ago is now very much in the mainstream of business thinking, at least in some companies and sectors.”

Tickner and Dragan Savic, professor of hydroinformatics at Exeter University, agreed that the financial sector could be stepping up more. Tickner highlighted the work CDP is doing to provide investors with access to material data which will lead to more responsible use of freshwater resources. The financial sector might be lagging but more synergy could be gained if all stakeholders were more joined up in their actions and debates, and if local users were systematically included. Gabrielle Walker, chief scientist at at Xyntéo drew from her experience:

When we’re dealing with practical projects by businesses we often hear that in the past there hasn’t been enough genuine, open conversation with people on the ground. On the other hand, in many of the places where water is scarce, there can also be breakdowns in governance, making it hard to identify good local leaders…

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