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Updated On: Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Water Energy Food Nexus: Share the Resources

Report by: FAO

8 September 2014, New York, USA | South-South News – On our planet, the amount of water, energy and food needs to be shared between 8 million. Do to the finite sources of land and water that we have, and the uneven distribution of wealth and power, access to these have caused conflict to flare up repeatedly around the world.

 The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) lays out the significance of a healthy Water-Energy-Food Nexus, as well as the introduction of a comprehensive technical and policy strategy approaching the implementation of a WEF nexus in the different nation states.


Read the report's overview below, then click here to read the full report.

Executive summary:

This report proposes a way to carry out a water-energy-food nexus assessment approach in order to: a) understand the interactions between water, energy and food systems in a given context, and b) evaluate the performance of a technical or policy intervention in this given context. The ultimate goal of the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus assessment is to inform nexus-related responses in terms of strategies, policy measures, planning and institutional set-up or interventions.

Part a) of the assessment focuses on the context analysis, providing information on the nexus context status:

  • The current state and pressures on natural and human resources systems
  • Expected demands,trends and drivers on resources systems
  • Interactions between water,energy and food systems
  • Different sectoral goals, policies and strategies in regard to water, energy and food this includes an analysis of the degree of coordination and coherence of policies, as well as the extent of regulation of uses
  • Planned investments, acquisitions, reforms and large-scale infrastructure
  • Key stakeholders, decision-makers and user groups.
  • Following the context analysis, a number of problem-specific tools are suggested for a more in- depth, quantitative analysis of the impacts of different resource uses and for the development of scenarios and strategic visions.

Part b) of the assessment looks specifically at the performance of technical and policy interventions in terms of resource use efficiency and productivity. Importantly, the performance of interventions should be also assessed versus the nexus context status. A set of basic indicators is proposed, out of which the final selection should take place in consultation with stakeholders. It is also possible to compare different interventions, based on how efficiently they make use of water, energy, food/ land, employment and financial capital.

Key stakeholders should be actively engaged in the assessment process to build consensus on strategic issues across sectors and scales and to decide on how to respond to these issues.

The different elements of the nexus assessment are illustrated in the following figure.

Figure E.1

The components of the nexus assessment 1.0


The proposed WEF nexus assessment approach helps “walking the talk” regarding nexus promotion. It is innovative in many ways:

  • it provides a stepwise process to address policy-making and intervention in a nexus manner

  • the indicators it proposes have been selected on the basis of available international datasets in case one wishes to carry out a nexus rapid appraisal, as the second best option to generating context specific information

  • it combines quantitative and qualitative assessment methods;

  • last but not least,it considers it is essential to link intervention assessment to context

    status as a key condition to assess the sustainability and appropriateness of interventions. The approach shows how to do this in practice.

Given its innovative character, the proposed nexus assessment approach should be considered work in progress, to be improved as lessons from its implementation will be drawn.


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