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This collection critically engages the resource use nexus. Clearly, a nexus-approach to resource policy, planning and practice is essential if sustainable development goals are to be met. In particular, in an era of climate change, an integrated approach to water, energy and agriculture is imperative. Agriculture accounts for 70% of global water withdrawals, food production accounts for 30% of global energy use and a rising global population requires more of everything. As shown in this collection, scholars of resource development, governance and management are ‘nexus sensitive’, utilizing a sort of ‘nexus sensibility’ in their work as it focuses on the needs of people particularly, but not only, in the global South. Importantly, a nexus-approach presents academics and practitioners with a discursive space in which to shape policy through research, to deepen and improve understandings of the interconnections and impacts of particular types of resource use, and to critically reflect on actions taken in the name of the ‘nexus’.



Chapter 1. Perspectives on the Nexus: Water, Energy and Food Security in an Era of Climate Change

This collection is centered on the so-called nexus. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a ‘nexus’ may be defined as: (a) connection, link, and also a causal link; (b) a connected group or series and (c) center, focus (see www.​merriam-webster.​com/​dictionary/​nexus). There is a well-known trend in policymaking circles toward integrating water, energy and food policy—the WEF nexus—within an overarching climate change and security ‘nexus’ (see Water Alternatives special issue guest edited by Allouche et al. 2015 and International Journal of Water Resources Development special issue guest edited by Allan et al. 2015). This is reflected in the policy frameworks of the Department for International Development (DfID) and the German Development Agency (GIZ) where the ‘nexus’ is the new operating framework. In addition, significant forums such as the Stockholm World Water Week, hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), and the World Economic Forum have drawn concentrated attention to the linked security issues surrounding water, energy and food, largely from a management perspective (WEF 2009; 2011; b; 2015). The basic argument is that treating water resource management discreetly—even if within an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) framework—is incomplete, because all water decisions impact possibilities for ‘energy security’ and ‘food security’, particularly within an era of globalization under the overarching context of climate change. According to Stern and Öjendal (quoted in Leese and Meisch 2015: 695–696), a nexus ‘can be understood as a network of connections between disparate ideas, processes or objects; alluding to a nexus implies an infinite number of possible linkages and relations’. However, water, in the words of the WEF (2011, b), is the ‘gossamer’ strands that hold the web of resource use together. In other words, water is at the heart of the nexus. So, water resource use decisions—even if biased toward blue water (defined as flowing surface water and accessible groundwater)—should at minimum take into consideration the role and place of water across key sectors, especially energy and food (and vice versa). There is also a sense of urgency about the nexus: the FAO (2014) highlights that agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global water withdrawals and that food production accounts for 30 percent of global energy use, so linkages are already significant. Moreover, it is anticipated that the rising global population will require 60 percent more food by 2050, that energy demands will increase by 50 percent by 2035 and that irrigation itself will use 10 percent more water than it does now. Thus, it is imperative that management practices ‘get it right’ sooner rather than later (see, also, Leese and Meisch 2015: 698). A nexus approach, it is argued, will enable the crafting of better policy and practice. For Al-Saidi and Elagib (2017: 1137), the WEF nexus is a ‘new kind of environmental policy paradigm’, and the nexus focus has, in their estimation, been quite successful in changing policy debates.
Larry A. Swatuk, Corrine Cash

Chapter 2. Water, Energy and Food: The Problematic Aspects of the Transition from ‘Silo Approach’ to ‘Nexus Approach’ in the Arab Region

There always has been debate on the significant role of natural resources for socioeconomic development (IUCN 1980; UNCED 1992; UNDP 1994; WCED 1987). Scientists argued that the carrying capacity of the earth no longer could continue supporting current and projected levels of demand from already depleted resources. For them, resource scarcity may compromise the welfare of future generations and pose a threat to sustainable development (Malthus 1970). Norgaard argued that as the extraction rates of resources increase, the horizon of scarcity shortens (Norgaard 1990). Until recently, resource scarcity was considered a local (or national) issue; however, lately, problems have scaled up (Adnan 2013).
Maha Al-Zu’bi, Noel Keough

Chapter 3. Natural Capital Accounting and Ecosystem Services Within the Water–Energy–Food Nexus: Local and Regional Contexts

The demand for water, food and energy is steadily increasing with growth expected at 30–50 percent in the next two decades (World Economic Forum, Water Security, The Water, Energy, Food and Climate Change Nexus, 2011). Balancing the elements of the water, energy and food nexus with climate change and its impacts on the availability of water for drinking, food production and changes in energy consumption is complex and challenging (Thirlwell et al., Energy–Water Nexus: Energy Use in the Municipal, Industrial, and Agricultural Water Sectors. Developed for the Canada–U.S. Water Conference, Washington DC, October 2, 2007; Waughray (ed.), Water security: The Water–Food–Energy–Climate Nexus, 2011; Bazilian et al., Energy Policy 39(12):7896–7906, 2012; Van Vuuren et al., Curr Opin Environ Sustain 4:18–34, 2012). Economic interests often favor short-term responses in production and consumption but, in turn, undermine long-term sustainability. Understanding the interconnections between water, energy and food using an ecosystem service approach offers a system-wide framework to achieve sustainable water, energy and food security given scarce resources. Natural capital accounting (NCA) integrates ecosystem services offering a means to identify, quantify and value ecosystem services (in monetary and non-monetary terms), leading to better decision-making for managing, preserving and restoring the natural environment (Voora and Venema, The Natural Capital Approach: A Concept Paper. International Institute for Sustainable Development, 2008). The United Nations (UN) System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for water is one example of translating biophysical water-related data into economic terms to improve decision outcomes for water. Energy reliability is closely linked to ecosystems given natural resource dependencies on the supply side and environmental degradation on the demand side. NCA encourages resiliency in energy systems using an integrated approach of environmental, economic, technical and social aspects. Given current and future demands, agricultural development requires a whole system approach. NCA is one tool that helps to bring together an integrated ecosystem perspective to agriculture. Developing robust systems of natural capital accounting in order to determine the contribution of ecosystem services to the water, energy and food nexus, and ultimately human well-being, is important if we are to realize the stated goals and targets of the UN’s Agenda 2030.
Natasha Tang Kai

Chapter 4. Pigs, Prawns and Power Houses: Politics in Water Resources Management

When the global water expert community joined the heads of state for the Rio+20 summit in 2012, they celebrated 20 years of promoting the concept of sustainable development, now enshrined within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under this umbrella, a range of normative management ideals and methods have been developed and advocated. These include the holistic concepts of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Coastal Zone Management, as well as their ‘tool room’ management instruments and methods, such as environmental impact assessments and Environmental Flows. These ideals designate elaborate approaches to ‘good environmental governance’ aimed at replacing ‘bad’ and unsustainable practices. Sustainable water management is included in SDG 6 which aims to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ (see https://​sustainabledevel​opment.​un.​org/​sdg6). Target 6.5 of SDG 6 states ‘By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate’.
K. M. Jensen, R. B. Lange, J. C. Refsgaard

Chapter 5. Mitigating the Korle Lagoon Ecological Pollution Problem in Accra, Ghana, Through a Framework for Urban Management of the Environment

This chapter examines the Korle Lagoon ecological pollution problem in the Accra Metropolitan Area, the capital city of Ghana, with a view toward putting forward feasible policy recommendations that might be used to mitigate the problem, using a Framework for Urban Management of the Environment (FUME). Located in the Ghanaian capital city of Accra, the Korle Lagoon overlooks the Gulf of Guinea and covers a total surface area of 0.6 km2 (Karikari et al. 2006). The Korle Lagoon used to be a freshwater ecosystem that once boasted an abundance of fish, crab and other forms of aquatic biota that contributed to food security and also provided a means of livelihood for residents around its vicinity. In the past few decades, however, the lagoon has become heavily polluted and an environmental disaster due to the combined effects of uncontrolled urbanization, politics and mismanagement. The banks of the Korle Lagoon have been transformed into human habitats by migrants, mainly from the northern parts of the country, whose activities largely contribute to the problem. These migrants engage in commercial and other activities that contribute to the generation of massive amounts of waste including dangerous pollutants that end up in the lagoon.
Jeffrey Squire

Chapter 6. La Plata River Basin: The Production of Scale in South American Hydropolitics

Transboundary waters are a great challenge to water governance in a context framed by the sanctioned discourse (Allan 2001) of water crisis (e.g., Gleick 1993; Camdessus et al. 2005) and the predictions of increasing disputes over water resources in the future (Wolf 1998; Giordano et al. 2002). This situation is sharpened by the great importance of surface river basins shared by two or more countries, which cover almost half of earth’s land surface and provide water for around 40 per cent of the world population (Wolf 1998; UN-Water 2008; Earle et al. 2010). In South America, a continent with three of the largest transnational river basins in the world, in area, flow and stream length—the Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata (Castillo 2011)—transboundary water security issues do not seem so acute compared to other regions such as the Middle East and North Africa, where water availability is already an urgent matter (Allan 2001). Nevertheless, in South America processes such as agricultural frontier expansion, increasing urban populations and climate variability raise questions on water politics in the continent and the production of scales to address water governance (Tucci 2004).
Luis Paulo Batista da Silva

Chapter 7. The Social Flows of Water in the Global South: Recognizing the Water-Gender-Health ‘Nexus’

Water is vital to human life. With it, we thrive, along with our crops, our domesticated animals, our societies and our civilization. Without it, we die in as few as three days. For humanity, water is both a biological and social imperative, and both our history and our current geopolitical landscape are shaped by it to an extent that is seldom recognized or acknowledged.
Amanda Leo, Elizabeth Lougheed, Larry A. Swatuk, Joanna Fatch

Chapter 8. Water as Threat and Solution: Improving Health Outcomes in Developing Country Contexts

Water is a determinant of health and health forms the very basis of human well-being. Water, like health, forms the very basis of human survival and thus the right to life. In many instances water is both a solution and a threat to human life. In the case of maternal and child health, water poses great risks for pregnancy and childbirth as well as to young children. Increased mortality and morbidity of developing country populations have tremendous implications for development outcomes as not only single individuals, but whole swaths of the population fall into the cycle of poverty. A significant threat to health is poor water and sanitation, specifically low or no access to clean water as well as poor sanitation practices and conditions (Rautanen et al. 2010). According to UN estimates, ‘at least 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated’, so resulting in a nexus of cyclic poverty and disease (see http://​www.​un.​org/​sustainabledevel​opment/​water-and-sanitation/​ accessed 9 May 2017).
Ashlea Webber, Jodi Baker, Lisa Gaudry, Larry A. Swatuk

Chapter 9. Household Water Insecurity in Different Settlement Categories of Ngamiland, Botswana

The attainment of water security is a major challenge confronting Botswana, a semi-arid country. This chapter analyzes household water security challenges in different settlement categories (i.e. primary centers, tertiary centers and ungazetted villages) of Ngamiland, Botswana. Informed by the concepts of security, water security and human security, the study used a survey of 554 households and qualitative data, collected through key informant interviews, participant observation, focus group discussions and informal interviews. The results of the study established that households across all settlement categories of Ngamiland encounter water insecurity in terms of availability and quality. Gazetted settlements households go for prolonged periods without water supply services. Households in ungazetted settlements use water from unprotected sources. The chapter concludes that the majority of households in different settlement categories are water insecure and this has negative effects on human security. Botswana has to put in place a water policy which emphasises the attainment water security and human security. Strategies and programmes aimed at enhancing household water security in both gazetted and ungazetted settlements have to be underpinned by scientific research.
Krasposy Kujinga, Cornelis Vanderpost, Gagoitseope Mmopelwa, Wellington R. L. Masamba

Chapter 10. Evolution or Illusion? The Okavango Delta Management Planning Process Versus the Conventional Planning System in the Face of Climate Change and Variability in Botswana

Land and water management in Botswana has evolved as have all other sociopolitical and development processes, through pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras. As the evolution took place, the country’s land resources ownership and use transformed from a traditionally managed communal system throughout the country to a mix of land uses and proliferation of land resources authorities. Figure 10.1 shows the location of Botswana and illustrates the different land uses that have come to exist through the land management evolution, each pretty much with its own institutional authority. It is argued and demonstrated in this chapter that the fragmentation of land uses and takeover of land management from community leaders have practically reduced the land available for community livelihoods and rendered them vulnerable to and unable to adapt and cope with global and climate variability and change conditions. In this map illustration, the white areas indicate land left for communal use. Judging by the white shading shown in the study sites (1 and 2), they are among the most affected districts by the systematic reduction of communal land.
Lapologang Magole, Phemo K. Kgomotso

Chapter 11. Evaluating an Agri-Environmental Network and Its Role in Collaborative Problem-Solving

Complex problems that cannot be resolved using a traditional problem-solving approach guided by expert science are becoming more common (Turner 2004). Complex environmental problems, many of these associated with contemporary water management, are particularly challenging because they are set within a broader societal context that includes financial, institutional, economic, political, social and technical considerations (Patrick et al. 2008). This has led to the recognition that an alternative approach is necessary for making decisions about water management, one that incorporates the knowledge and perspectives of different stakeholder groups (Functowicz and Ravetz 1993; Wynne 2002). In this chapter, the focus is on a particular alternative approach—collaborative approaches to environmental problem-solving—that brings diverse stakeholders together to integrate different forms of knowledge with community beliefs and values, and to engage in problem-solving using a consensus-based approach (Lemos and Agrawal 2006; Paavola 2007).
Hugh Simpson, Rob de Loë, David Rudolph

Chapter 12. The New Green Revolution: Enhancing Rainfed AgricultureAgriculture security food Nutrition Eastern Africa for Food and Nutrition Security in Eastern Africa

It is anticipated that by 2050, the global human population will reach nine billion (Rosegrant et al. 2009). Along with population growth, socio-economic shifts and changing dietary patterns will require global food production to double in the next 40 years to accommodate increasing levels of consumption (Sposito 2013). Most population growth will take place in developing countries, which is also where food insecurity is most prevalent. The growing demand for food production also creates challenges with respect to water resources. A total of 70–85 percent of available freshwater is used for agricultural production (Rosegrant et al. 2009; Nordin et al. 2013), and increased demand for food will exacerbate issues related to the degradation and depletion of water resources (Nordin et al. 2013). In line with these facts, the narrative surrounding food security is predominantly focused on increasing yields while ensuring sufficient water to do so. Some have argued that the 2008 and 2011 global spikes in food and oil prices initiated the entire ‘water-energy-food nexus’ discussion. In this discussion, these three ‘systems’ are said to be inextricably linked (http://​www.​unwater.​org/​topics/​water-food-and-energy-nexus/​en/​). While this is true, the globalized nature of this discourse means that it is overwhelmingly dominated by powerful states and private sector actors, each fundamentally interested in the financial costs (and possible profits) of efforts to achieve energy, food and water ‘security’ (Clapp 2012). Efforts to increase food security through ‘production’ have resulted in myriad pathological practices, the most pernicious of which may be land-grabbing across the Global South (Swatuk 2017).
Adi Dunkelman, Meghann Kerr, Larry A. Swatuk

Chapter 13. Afterward: Closing Thoughts on the Water–Food–Energy–Climate Nexus

In the space of a decade, the concept of the “nexus” has gained considerable traction as a holistic, and allegedly disruptive, approach to thinking about current environmental issues. The content of the nexus varies across reports and conferences and speeches—there is the water–energy nexus, the water–energy–food nexus, the water–energy–food–climate nexus and so on (e.g. McCornick et al. 2008; Perrone and Hornberger 2014; Poppy et al. 2014; WBCSD 2009; WEF 2009; for an annotated bibliography, see Williams 2014). But those embracing this concept appear less concerned about reaching broad agreement on what it does and does not include than they are about reaching an agreement that the concept itself is innovative, inclusive and useful for understanding and addressing contemporary environmental challenges.
Richard A. Matthew


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