Close to a billion population on this planet lack access to safe drinking water, modern energy services and food to lead healthy and productive lives; a great majority of them residing in the SSA and South Asian regions. The problem is likely to be exacerbated with ever-growing population, climate change, dis-connected & silo thinking, ageing infrastructure, and narrow political vision among others.
Can this gory picture and impending human crises be averted with a food-water-energy nexus approach?
While evidence in this direction seems to be gathering momentum, clearly there is a need to evolve a simplified problem-solution frame to evolve multiple and complementary solutions across the three key ‘S’ dimensions – Stewardship, Sustainability and Security.
But why are these three ‘S’ dimensions seen important?
The answer lies in the intuitive synthesis of evidence gathered thus far from a cross-section of platforms, programmes, technology innovation drives, stakeholder nexus reflections, clean investment flows underway around the world. Notable among these are the recently concluded Bonn 2011 conference, the Challenge Program on Food and Water, Shell’s Water-Energy Nexus technology innovations drive, UNCTAD’s Water for Food Synthesis, FAO’s Integrated Food-Energy Systems Work for people and climate.
And what should this simplified framework look like?
The following multi dimensional framework synthesizes key dimensions and sub dimensions, along with timeline outlooks and solution innovation axes rolled into an integrated nexus whole.
A quick application of the framework points that the current emerging evidence continues to evolve in the short to medium term timeline with the food-water, water-energy, food-energy debates converging around IWRM, global climate information services, food-feed-fuel, agri-technology systems and their corresponding market transformation pathways.Clearly, these are significant steps in the direction of total nexus approach but not enough.For the total integrated nexus approach to evolve, clearly three things need to happen:
1)Technology and advocacy solutions with a sharp sectoral (Power, infrastructure, buildings, transport, industry and agriculture) and demand management (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) foci must first evolve fully. This evidence base must feed into the Sustainability intersection dimensions for markets, capacity and programmatic innovations to occur. Finally these must feed into the Security dimension for policy and financial innovations to occur;
2) Several multi context strategic pilots in the Sustainability intersection direction must be undertaken in parallel;
3) A well co-ordinated multi context stakeholder engagement must be undertaken over sustained timelines so when the true nexus convergence happens, the emerging solutions may find ready commitment and integration into nations’ development agendas.
Clearly, the value of the framework lays in simplification, reduction of the complex nexus problem into manageable dimensions, and its projection as an actionable framework for integrated solutions emergence.
With the hope that the Bonn 2011 road leads to Rio+20 on a surer foot, here is wishing one and all a warm and happy 2012…