The security of water, energy, food and ecosystems is inseparably linked. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) state the four elements are critical to underpin sustainable economies and human well-being. There are increasing concerns, however, about the availability, distribution, access and sustainability of water, food and energy. By 2050, the world population is expected to exceed 9 billion. At the same time, more people are living in cities and joining the middle class. These trends, along with increased climate variability, will put greater stress on natural resources. Read more+
The world is edging closer to surpassing planetary boundaries, which may heighten the risk of conflict over scarce resources and displace people from their communities. Many business leaders, for example, recognize a future water crisis as the top long-term risk of highest concern. This is followed closely by the failure to address climate adaptation and mitigation; greater incidence of extreme weather events; food shortages; and profound social and social instability.
At the same time, we lack sufficient knowledge of the hydrological cycle and impacts of climate change in many key parts of the world, including most of Africa and parts of Asia. These continents, which are critical to global food security, are facing rapid urban development, which brings with it more demand for water, food and energy.
In the face of rapid global change, only long-term partnership between governments, private sector and civil society can address the nexus between water, food, energy and ecosystems. Through collective assessment of the risks, costs and benefits, partners can better assess synergies and trade-offs.
What We Do
The GEF increasingly works holistically across the agency to address the water, food and energy nexus. The IW focal area, for example, looks for ways to integrate with the Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation focal areas. It also integrates IW concerns into specialized programs such as Sustainable Cities, Food Security and Commodities. Read more+
The GEF encourages countries to consider “nexus dimensions” as an entry point for cooperation — an approach that can lead to better resource management and reduce tension around shared water resources. We enable countries that share a water body to conduct joint fact-finding missions, analyze cross-sectoral opportunities and trade-offs, and build trust and capacity. Together, they invest in regional and national policy reforms, and joint projects. In this way, our support strengthens effective and efficient water use, and enhances delivery and sharing of environmental and socio-economic benefits in transboundary basins.
GEF-6 (2014-2018) encourages countries to consider how nexus dimensions, including trade-offs, can inform investments in transboundary basins. With our partners, and supported by lessons from IW-LEARN, we are also helping countries assess the impact of Nexus dimensions in their strategic action programs. Ultimately, the IW focal area strives to transform the conversation from meeting the challenge of balancing competing water uses to exploiting the opportunities generated from transboundary cooperation.
The GEF has helped countries agree on joint, cross-sectoral action plans and then supported their implementation. Our experience shows that cooperative investments in, for example, a river basin can be a powerful driver for cooperative action. In fact, Vision statements often reach far beyond cooperation on water to embrace regional integration, stability and peace. Read more+