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The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A new approach in support of food security and sustainable agriculture








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    Book (stand-alone)
    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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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Informing Water-Energy-Water nexus decisions: the integrated WEF nexus model of Jordan 2022
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    Due to the water shortage in Jordan, the safe water abstraction yields are often exceeded. Groundwater extractions require large amounts of energy, due to the decreasing water table levels of almost all aquifers in the country. Therefore, around 14.9 percent of the supplied electricity is consumed by water pumping and other water services. Moreover, additional energy requirements will be needed to deal with an expanding water supply through desalination and wastewater treatment.The agriculture sector accounts for the largest share of water demand (around 52 percent), where again, groundwater is the main source. Furthermore, as a consequence of its water-scarce nature, Jordan faces increasing food insecurity being forced to import around 87 percent of its food. Achieving sustainable water-energy-food (WEF) resources security requires developing safe operational boundaries of water use defining the conditions for water sustainability in Jordan. These boundaries were defined using a Water-Food-Energy-Climate-Ecosystems Nexus analytical framework that was highly stakeholder-driven, combined with quantitative and qualitative methods developed by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). In this flyer, the reader will be able to know the methodology used to develop WEF NEXUS model, scenario analysis, results and key findings.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Policy Brief: The Case for Energy Smart Food Systems 2011
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    An interdisciplinary ‘nexus’ approach is necessary to ensure that food, energy and climate are jointly addressed, trade-offs considered, and appropriate safeguards are put in place. These issues will not be addressed through a single initiative. Because of its importance, scope and complexity, this challenge must be met through participation of a broad constituency of interested parties. This demands a multi partner international effort to implement energy-smart solutions in a non fragmented and cost effective way. Within this context, FAO proposes setting up an “Energy Smart’ Food for People and Climate” Multi-Partner Programme to be launched in 2012. The aim of the Programme is to address the energy dimension in relation to food security and energy poverty and should be seen as an essential component to climate-smart agriculture.

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