The water, energy and food nexus connects three sectors that are closely related and interlinked- water security, energy security and food security. The nexus also takes into account that what is positive for one of these sectors might have a negative influence for another. At the end of the day it is a bargain, a trade-off that has to be wisely considered and adapted to circumstance.
But modern requirements for energy services, increased population and dietary changes make the water, energy and food nexus all the more urgent.
Especially (and sometimes unfairly) clean energy solutions have been scrutinized for using large amount of water, and to interfere with food production directly (for example in regard to bioenergy) or indirectly by consuming water that is wanted for agriculture.
What emerges is that, today, to determine the overall effectiveness of low energy systems, both water and energy need to be considered; such calculations must account for both water and energy needed for certain modern services such as heating or cooling.
Currently, policies for sustainable development not yet take the connection between water, food and energy into account enough. NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) so far concentrate almost exclusively on the energy side of systems while sometime overlooking the effects on the water and food situation. This is why the nexus approach is so important and should be fundamentally considered within the shift to a low-carbon future.
The nexus approach integrates management and governance across sectors and scales for improved water, energy and food security. While this academic approach had raised interest by national leaders, there are risks of framing water and other resources in terms of security, which may lead to social issues being treated as national security issues. On the other hand, raising awareness of how these areas are connected is important if we want to reach the MDGs and make improve sustainability across all sectors.
In short, the nexus approach must be another considerations within climate compatible development.
- Register to watch the water, food & energy nexus debates live broadcast (guardian.co.uk)
- Getting to grips with the water-energy-food ‘nexus’ (CDKN)
http://www.water-energy-food.org/ (BMU NEXUS Platform)