The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Solutions for the Green Economy

A paper titled “Understanding the Nexus” has been published ahead of the Bonn2011 Conference ‘The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Solutions for the Green Economy’ which will be taking place later next week.

As we have previously written, the Water, Energy and Food nexus refers to the interlinked risks of water security, food security and energy security. With the current combined challenges of degraded ecosystems, a rapidly increasing demand for resources, climate change, growing urbanization and globalization, there is a threat that social-ecological systems at all levels will be driven across critical thresholds.

This new paper presents initial evidence for how a nexus approach can enhance water, energy and food security by increasing efficiency, reducing trade-offs, building synergies and improving governance across sectors.

The paper claims that:

“A nexus approach can support a transition to sustainability, by reducing trade-offs and generating additional benefits that outweigh the transaction costs associated with stronger integration across sectors.”

The authors argue that a nexus approach can create a number of opportunities, including:

-       Increased productivity of resources. The nexus focus is on system efficiency rather than on the productivity of isolated sectors.

-       Waste as a resource in muti-use systems. Cross-sectoral management can boost overall resource use efficiency. Waste can be turned into a resource for other products.

-       Stimulating development through economic incentives. A nexus approach can help to avoid investments that lock development into non-sustainable pathways.

-       Governance, institutions and policy coherence. Enabling conditions for horizontal and vertical policy coherence include institutional capacity building, political will, change agents and capacity building.

-       Benefiting from productive ecosystems. Green agriculture can provide benefits such as carbon sequestration and resilience to climate risks while improving food security.

-       Integrated poverty alleviation and green growth. Green agriculture can generate more rural jobs and increase diversity and resilience of production systems.

-       Capacity building and awareness raising. This can help to deal with the complexity of cross-sectoral approaches, and to promote sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns.

-       Moving towards a green economy. As the green economy approach seeks “to unite under a single banner the entire suite of economic policies of relevance to sustainable development”, it is the nexus approach par excellence.

You can read the paper in full here:


To read more about Farming First’s position on the green economy, watch our animated video or view our infographic please see the page on our website on agriculture and the green economy.