The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean


In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), water is at the heart of this nexus and underpins hydropower generation, agricultural production and industry. The LAC region is abundant in water, energy and land resources and these have been harnessed to fuel economic growth across the region. However, what comes together with the development of agriculture, mineral and energy endowments are large-scale pollution and deforestation, undermining ecosystem services and threatened water security that is of vital importance for the region’s economies and citizens. Climate change is now further multiplying these threats through changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events. Recent water crises in the region, including the severe 2014 drought in Brazil’s economic heartland in the south-east of the country, have brought trade-offs between water, energy and food to the fore. Even in areas of great overall water abundance, such as Amazonia, severe droughts have highlighted a once unthinkable vulnerability.

Shared ownership of water resource also means shared risks. To meet the economic, environmental and social targets in LAC region, nexus thinking, which emphasizes cross-sectorial collaboration at the regional and local level, will be a prerequisite for success. For Latin America and the Caribbean, stakeholders cross sectors and boundaries should work together to pursue the long-term security and prosperity that will in turn benefit all of them.

The report “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean: Trade-offs, Strategic Priorities and Entry Points” provides an overview of the water - energy - food nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), identifying the main challenges and opportunities for achieving water, energy and food security in the region. There is a particular focus on the Latin American countries Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. This report builds on IUCN and IWA’s Latin American Nexus Dialogue workshop in 2013 and the Amazonia Security Agenda project and is informed by 41 interviews with key stakeholders across water, energy and food sectors in the region. The goals of the report are to support public and private sector decision-makers in the region by identifying key trade-offs between water, energy and food; strategic priorities to address key challenges for water, energy and food security; and entry points for a regional nexus dialogue.

This report has been published in April, 2015 and is now available online. Please click here to download (pdf version)