Institutions for the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

  • 2018/03/09     Bonn, Germany

    Image: Nina Hagemann/TU Dresden

    Reporting by Jiwon Park, Intern, Communications and Advocacy

    As the global demand for water increases due to climate change, rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, and population growth, the importance of efficient and integrated management of resources across sectors is gradually gaining popularity. In terms of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), water, energy, and food have been identified as key sectors to integrate.

    Generally, these sectors have been managed separately, but the interconnectedness between the three has as of late been accentuated. Scholars and practitioners have begun to encourage a Nexus Approach to planning in these three sectors. In other words, integrated management of, for example, the Water-Energy-Food Nexus is essential in analysing the impact of changes in demand or supply of a resource on the other resources.

    To discuss more about Governing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus”, scientists gathered at the New Institutional Economics (NIÖ) Network Meeting organised by the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn, Germany from 18 to 19 January 2018. The workshop was part of a series for neo-institutional economists.

    The focus of this workshop was on institutional arrangements for promoting and implementing water, energy, and food security. UNU-FLORES expert Sabrina Kirschke (Water Resources Management) attended the meeting and delivered a presentation on “Indicators for ‘good’ solutions to wicked resource nexus problems”. The presentation was based on joint research with Dr Tamara Avellán, Dr Lulu Zhang, Kristin Meyer (UNU-FLORES), and Dr Nina Hagemann (TU Dresden).

    There is no clear definition of wicked nexus problems. We understand here wicked problems as those characterised by high goal diversity, system complexity, and informational uncertainty.

    Kirschke pointed out that in current governance research, there lacks a clear understanding of good solutions to these wicked nexus problems. As a result, addressing wicked nexus problems and analysing governance strategies is very difficult. Defining indicators for solutions to wicked problems and applying these indicators to different empirical cases of wicked resource nexus problems can support governance analyses, Kirschke explained. The workshop participants discussed the indicator framework as well as its application in different regions and different nexus cases.

    Image: Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

    The NIÖ Network Meeting brought together scientists and researchers to share theoretical approaches and a variety of case studies on the Water–Energy–Food Nexus in developing countries and the European Union (EU). The Water-Energy-Food Nexus is an alternative to resolve the shortage of water, energy, and food resulting from climate change, among others. To address this problem, various research studies related to the nexus are underway in many countries and institutes.