How to Manage Resource Stress where Water, Energy and Food Intersect?


16 October 2013 | Damian Crilly

I am thrilled to attend the Development Congress in Nairobi as it provides a unique opportunity to assist our work on the Nexus Dialogue.

Global competition over finite natural resources is increasing between agriculture, industry, energy and ecosystems. A rising global population, increased pollution and habitat degradation add to the pressure. 

Today on  world food day (16th of October) I will be making the case to stop thinking about food, water and energy separately. We all depend upon natural resources for our water, energy and food security. Water uses energy, energy uses water, agriculture uses both and modern societies need all three. Water, land and energy systems are interconnected, complex and dependent on one another. Disturbance and change in one system can destabilise the others. Recent extremes of droughts and floods have forced recognition of the closely bound interaction and interconnections between water, energy and food (the nexus).

From conversations I have had with recent nexus dialogue workshop participants in Africa and Latin America I can already see a pattern emerging. Many of our institutional arrangements for water, land and energy are divided into ‘silos’ separated by thematic and technical boundaries, principles and practice, often from the top down.  Increasingly unsustainable and competing pressures are being placed on the natural resources upon which societies depend. This is occurring against a backdrop of climate change. 

What I am hoping will be achieved from our work on the nexus dialogue is a better understanding of natural resources as complex systems. We need to take account of all factors and the dynamics among these resources. The connectivity between land, water and energy needs to become the focal point for integration. Helping sectors to better understand the connectivity between them will present opportunities for policy and institutional cooperation, coordination and collaboration.

Where you as water professionals can be of assistance is in helping provide evidence based solutions to improve local and regional outcomes for water, energy and food security. For instance, how can we to better engage the energy sector in the dialogue for improved decision making on infrastructure solutions?

Please feel free to send me an e-mail with your suggestions.


This blog was originally posted on IWA. To read the original blog, click here.