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Water–energy–food–health nexus in Lebanon

Case study









Bachour, R., Yanni, S., Daher, B., Jaafar, H., Ajour, S. & Mohtar, R. 2023. Water–energy–food–health nexus in Lebanon – Case study. SOLAW21 Technical background report. Rome, FAO.




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    Addressing food security challenges in Lebanon: A Water-Energy-Food-Health Nexus approach 2021
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    As Lebanon faces compound challenges including a pandemic, economic, financial and political failure, a looming food security crisis is rapidly approaching. Much of this crisis could be attributed to the lack of long-term planning and investment in the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Another challenge lies in the existing disconnect between decision making between the agricultural sector, and other interconnected sectors, including water, energy, health, economy, among others. This is exacerbated by the lack of integrative national tools that allow for quantifying the trade-offs associated with possible plans and interventions, which could play a role in facilitating a dialogue be-tween multiple sectors and stakeholder groups. Supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut has worked to-ward 1) identifying and quantifying the critical inter-connections between water, energy, and food sys-tems in Lebanon; 2) developing a framework to as-sess the trade-offs associated with adopting inter-ventions within current water, energy, and agriculture portfolios and practices.
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    Evaluating farmer priorities and readiness to adopt new water, energy, and agricultural solutions in Lebanon 2021
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    Evaluating farmer priorities and readiness to adopt new water, energy, and agricultural solutions in Lebanon: The survey highlights the interconnections between farmers’ decisions on their lands with different resource systems including energy, water, health and the economy. It is important to develop incentives that are consistent with farmers’ preferences and willingness to shift to different practices on their farms. Farmers are most likely to shift to alternative energy sources, followed by growing different crops, then using alternative irrigations sources. Improving profits and saving water and energy are the top reasons indicated by farmers for making shifts in their practices. As Lebanon faces compound challenges including a pandemic, economic, financial and political failure, a looming food security crisis is rapidly approaching. Much of this crisis could be attributed to the lack of long-term planning and investment in the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Another challenge lies in the existing disconnect between decision making between the agricultural sector, and other interconnected sectors, including water, energy, health, economy, among others. This is exacerbated by the lack of integrative national tools that allow for quantifying the trade-offs associated with possible plans and interventions, which could play a role in facilitating a dialogue between multiple sectors and stakeholder groups. Supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut has worked toward evaluating stakeholder perceptions toward existing resource challenges and willingness to implement proposed interventions at the farm scale.
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    Groundwater governance and the water-energy-food nexus in action: a global review of policy and practice
    SOLAW21 Technical background report
    2023
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    The dominance of insular, supply-side technocratic thinking has posed a major challenge to improving water governance in the face of mounting resource scarcity, which has itself been accentuated by climate change. During the 1990s, global discourse moved from supply-driven sectoral interventions to more holistic approaches to water governance as part of larger socioeconomic and environmental processes. Integrated water resources management (IWRM) emphasized demand-side water management and used prices, participation, entitlements, laws and regulations to strengthen water governance at hydrological rather than territorial units. More recently, there have been pleas for more integrative approaches that link land, water, energy, food, livelihoods, the environment and other spheres – each with its own, often insular, governance structure. The evolution in global thinking reflects the need to meet growing human needs by innovating approaches that enhance resilience and the sustainability of landscapes, the biosphere and the Earth as a whole. To this end, the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus advocates that society is better off seeking system-level balance rather than maximizing sectoral objectives. The nexus approach has produced prolific analytical literature over the past decade but integrating it into policy and governance faces many challenges. This review paper explores these challenges by focusing on the WEF nexus in action. We compare the nexus in several water-stressed areas of the world including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, China, Bangladesh and Gujarat (India), with additional evidence drawn from other places such as Morocco and Punjab-Haryana. We synthesize these case studies to examine the actual state of play in different locations and tease out practical lessons for mainstreaming nexus thinking in water policy and governance. The key conclusion is that specific contexts, contingencies and constituencies drive national and sub-national policies. Directing the outcomes towards the optimal nexus depends on the nature of the state, investment in institution building and, above all, ingenuity in policy design and implementation to overcome resistance to change and strengthen political capital for the leaders who back such policies.

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