WEF Science-Policy Dialogue - Background
The Water-Energy-Food (W-E-F) Nexus is an approach that captures the inter-relations, synergies and trade-offs between the demands on water, energy and food, in the context of the emerging constraints to sustainable development in particular regions or systems. Nexus thinking has gained recognition within the scientific community and also among policy makers at global, continental, regional and national levels. For example, South Africa has adopted various integrative polices in an attempt to achieve a more sustainable economy, yet, on the ground, unsustainable patterns of resource use persist, from local to national scales. As a result water, energy and food security can be compromised, with serious implications for the long-term development and wellbeing of the South African economy, communities and individual households. For the most part, the cost of unintended consequences of Nexus trade-offs are paid by the most vulnerable communities because of their limited means to influence higher levels of
decision making and a lack of capacity to mediate (or take advantage of) changing nexus dynamics.
Arguably, the W-E-F Nexus approach is valuable for understanding complex systems, and for decision making to achieve macro-scale on sustainable development. The move from the Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has provided additional challenges and opportunities to scientists and policy makers. Viewing these through a W-E-F Nexus lens may provide valuable insights in achieving and reporting on the SDGs. However, improved livelihoods and wellbeing of individuals and households are the ultimate measure of success for achieving sustainable development. Nexus research has so far remained weak in identifying how the Nexus is interlinked with livelihoods, policies, implementation etc. A number of studies have already been undertaken in South Africa to investigate some of the linkages between nexus components, but do not explore policies gaps, trade –offs etc in detail. It is these gaps and opportunities that form the focus of this dialogue.
The science – policy interface dialogue intends to address the following objectives:
- To review evidence on the W-E-F Nexus at different levels, with a particular focus on how the nexus approach applies to different sectors in the Southern Africa.
- Identify policy gaps in addressing the W-E-F Nexus issues in Southern Africa.
- Identify trade - offs on WEF Nexus and what is required to reduce them and even translate them to synergies.
- Assess the role of W-E-F Nexus approach to support implementation of the South African National Development Plan, Southern African Development Community (SADC) W-E-F Nexus activities, and the SDGs.
- Identify challenges facing the implementation of the W-E-F Nexus across the SADC region.
- Extrapolate these discussions to suggest the critical issues related to the W-E-F Nexus in Africa.
The Sustainable Water Future Programme and Future Earth will play a lead role in documenting the findings of this science-policy dialogue and ensuring that the results are integrated within the research agenda of the next decadal programme and in the implementation of the W-E-F Nexus Knowledge Action Network.
In order to register for the science policy dialogue, please go to W-E-F Dialogue Registration.
More information on the agenda and logistics will be published here in the coming weeks. Space is limited, so you are encouraged to register early for the dialogue.
Please contact Susan Risko