International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

The 4th nexus Task Force

22 Nov 2016
Assessments of the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus and response measures in transboundary basins: a global stock-taking workshop

To be held in Geneva, 6-7 December 2016
Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland,
starting at 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 December 2016 

Background and objectives 
The water, energy and food sectors are so strongly interlinked that actions in one area commonly impacts on one or both other sectors. Yet all too often these sectors operate in isolation, and seeking security in one sector may in fact compromise others or affect negatively the integrity of ecosystems. In 2011, the international conference on The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus –Solutions for the Green Economy in Bonn called for attention to risks and externalities in the water-food-energy nexus. It also presented initial evidence on how a nexus approach can enhance water, energy and food security by increasing efficiency, reducing trade-offs, building synergies, improving governance across sectors and moving towards greener economies.  
 Since then, the thinking has progressed and there is by now a rich knowledge and experience about what the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus (or other variants of the nexus, depending on the scoping) entails, how the related intersectoral effects can play out and what kind of responses can be explored. With the adoption of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is clear that as the SDGs on energy, food security, water and ecosystems ─ and beyond ─ are closely interlinked and there are trade-offs involved. Therefore, a nexus approach is required to support dialogue about the impacts, priorities and choices related to progress in different areas of sustainable development.  If coordination between the resource sectors concerned is already challenging at the national level, the complexity increases further in transboundary basins where impacts of sectoral management can spread from one country to another. 
Data gaps and asymmetric access to information are obstacles to coherent governance. Scenarios and predictions are also needed: The potential future scarcity of resources, ecosystem degradation, the long term nature of infrastructure development and uncertainties associated with climate change are among the reasons to take climate into account in the context of the nexus. 
In transboundary basins, obtaining harmonized data from all riparian countries and forming a holistic and shared picture of the situation and future scenarios is more complicated and requires specific approaches and policy dialogues.  A joint assessment of intersectoral links, trade-offs and benefits serve developing more coherent policies, reducing frictions between sectors and environmental impacts, as well as broadening and revisiting transboundary cooperation.   A contribution to the understanding of the nexus in a transboundary context has been made under the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention). In 2013-2015, a methodology1 for assessing the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in transboundary basins has been developed and applied in a number of transboundary basins.  The methodology, the summary assessments as well as conclusions and recommendations are compiled in the publication Reconciling resource uses in transboundary basins: assessment of the water-food-energyecosystems nexus (October 2015).2 Seeing the value of nexus assessments for fostering transboundary cooperation, the Parties to the Water Convention decided to continue the work on the nexus from 2016 to 2018.     Beyond the nexus work under the Water Convention, numerous other studies have been carried out and tools have been developed to improve the understanding of the nexi at different contexts and scales, many of them by the organizing partners of this workshop. Even more organizations are reflecting on adopting a nexus approach.  
Considering all these developments, it is timely to take stock of experiences gained and share lessons, with a specific focus on the transboundary context. Therefore, with the overarching purpose to inform crosssectorally coordinated and integrated efforts to promote sustainable development, the workshop has the following specific objectives:  

• Review key methodologies and initiatives of relevance for assessing nexus issues in transboundary basins; • Draw lessons learned from the assessments carried out;

• Formulate conclusions and recommendations for assessing nexus issues;

• Identify good approaches as well as policy and technical measures for addressing intersectoral issues; and

• Discuss how a nexus approach can be put into practice in resource management, at the basin level in particular, and how processes that foster intersectoral coordination can be supported. Governance and institutional issues related to the nexus will be paid particular attention to. 
The conclusions from the workshop will be used in the future work of the organizing partners to foster transboundary cooperation and provide assistance to countries and joint bodies, such as transboundary commissions. In particular, the conclusions will guide the discussions in the meeting of the Water Convention Task Force on the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems nexus which will meet just after the workshop (Geneva, 8 December 2016).