The Water-Energy Food Nexus – Bringing Clarity to Complexity

By Damian Crilly and Dr. James Dalton
Posted Oct. 25, 2013
 

 

Water uses energy (for treatment and distribution), energy uses water (for thermal cooling and hydropower generation), agriculture uses both, and modern societies need all three. Land, water and energy systems are interconnected and have become increasingly more complex and dependent on one another.

 

A rapidly rising global population—on a trajectory to 9 billion people by 2050—and growing prosperity are putting unsustainable pressures on resources against a backdrop of climate change. Recent extremes of droughts and flooding have forced recognition of the closely bound interaction between water, energy and food (the "nexus") and how disturbance and change in one system can destabilize the others. The interconnectedness of water, energy and food is complex. Tackling complex or "wicked" problems cannot be solved by any one sector alone. A more integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to optimizing water, energy and food infrastructure is needed. Although the need for integration is acknowledged, many of our public institutions are divided into "silos," separated by thematic and technical boundaries, principles and practice, often from the top down. The challenges are not all controlled by water agencies. Most water institutions are not mandated and many water policies are not comprehensive or integrated enough to address these complex inter-related problems.

 

A better understanding of river basins as complex systems is needed. A focus on a systems approach would, we argue, lead to the better application of integrated resource management across the water-energy-food sectors.  We suggest that the nexus connectivity between land, water and energy provides a focal point to facilitate integration. Focusing on the sphere of influence between these sectors provides opportunities for collaboration and partnership. Multi-party collaborations that promote infrastructure and technological solutions across the land, water and energy nexus will help to support economic drivers and address how to avoid further damage to our natural ecosystems.

 10/25/2013Permanent link

The Water-Energy Food Nexus – Bringing Clarity to Complexity  ()
 Multi-party collaborations that promote infrastructure and technological solutions across the land, water and energy nexus can help us to avoid further damage to our natural ecosystems.

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The Water-Energy Food Nexus – Bringing Clarity to Complexity

 Permanent link

 

The Water-Energy Food Nexus – Bringing Clarity to Complexity

By Damian Crilly and Dr. James Dalton
Posted Oct. 25, 2013
 

 

Water uses energy (for treatment and distribution), energy uses water (for thermal cooling and hydropower generation), agriculture uses both, and modern societies need all three. Land, water and energy systems are interconnected and have become increasingly more complex and dependent on one another.

 

A rapidly rising global population—on a trajectory to 9 billion people by 2050—and growing prosperity are putting unsustainable pressures on resources against a backdrop of climate change. Recent extremes of droughts and flooding have forced recognition of the closely bound interaction between water, energy and food (the "nexus") and how disturbance and change in one system can destabilize the others. The interconnectedness of water, energy and food is complex. Tackling complex or "wicked" problems cannot be solved by any one sector alone. A more integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to optimizing water, energy and food infrastructure is needed. Although the need for integration is acknowledged, many of our public institutions are divided into "silos," separated by thematic and technical boundaries, principles and practice, often from the top down. The challenges are not all controlled by water agencies. Most water institutions are not mandated and many water policies are not comprehensive or integrated enough to address these complex inter-related problems.

 

A better understanding of river basins as complex systems is needed. A focus on a systems approach would, we argue, lead to the better application of integrated resource management across the water-energy-food sectors.  We suggest that the nexus connectivity between land, water and energy provides a focal point to facilitate integration. Focusing on the sphere of influence between these sectors provides opportunities for collaboration and partnership. Multi-party collaborations that promote infrastructure and technological solutions across the land, water and energy nexus will help to support economic drivers and address how to avoid further damage to our natural ecosystems.

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 10/25/2013 10:43:05 AM | 


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/uploadedImages/Blogs/Authors/DamianCrilly.jpgPosted by Damian Crilly
and Dr. James Dalton

Damian Crilly has more than 15 years of international experience in natural resource, river basin and catchment management. He is currently working for the International Water Association (IWA), managing their collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on the joint initiative Nexus Dialogue on Infrastructure Solutions for Water, Energy and Food.

 

 

/uploadedImages/Blogs/Authors/JamesDalton.JPGDr. James Dalton is the Coordinator of Global Initiatives for the IUCN Water Programme. He has worked on water resource management issues for the past nineteen years, ranging from technical aspects to institutional development, governance and policy, business planning and socio-economic issues. Prior to joining IUCN, James worked at the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) in Fiji where he was the Integrated Water Resource Management Adviser. Between 2001 and 2007, he was a water management and development consultant for ITAD Water. In this role, he provided long-term assistance to the DFID Senior Water Adviser and other international donors. He holds a BSc in Rural Resource Development, MSc in Irrigation Engineering, and a Doctorate in Civil and Environmental Engineering focusing on groundwater management in the Aral Sea Basin.