Bringing ecosystems to the forefront of the Nexus discussions

Bringing Ecosystems to the Forefront of the
Water-Energy-Food Nexus Discussion
IUCN/IWA/UNEP Side Event at Nexus 2014 Conference,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
March 5, 2014
Carla Friedrich
Associate Programme Officer
United Nations Environment Programme
Regional Office for North America
Why Nexus?
Already water is a scarce resource in many places.
GEO-4 estimates that by 2025 two-thirds of the global
population will be living in areas experiencing water
Agriculture is already the biggest user of
freshwater resources; expanding and intensifying
bioenergy production could add to existing
As the integrity of water systems declines, they are
less able to provide fundamental ecosystem
services such as the provision of clean water, natural
filtration services, natural habitat for fisheries etc.
Global challenges such as climate change,
population growth, change in living standards and
energy demand will further impact the world’s water
The Nexus: Emphasis Within Different
‘Ecosystems,’ ‘Risk Reduction,’ and ‘Sustainability’
are missing from the dialogue
The Nexus According to UNEP
Figure 1
Figure 2 - UNEP
Sustainable Livelihoods & Green Growth
An Ecosystem Services Emphasis
Supporting a wide range of ecosystem services for long-term
socio-economic and environmental benefits
Water for Food
-biomass for food and
fodder production
(irrigation and rainfed)
-food processing
Agricultural waste and
residues and food
waste for bioenergy
Energy for Food
-fertilizer production
- agricultural machinery
-food preservation and
Energy for Access to
-water pumping and
-water treatment
-sea water desalination
Integrated Water Resource Management
Water for Energy
-extraction, mining,
refining and residue
disposal of fossil fuels
-plant cooling
-bioenergy feedstock
Energy – Food Systems and Integrated Planning
Agricultural waste and
residues to rebuild soil
Agro-Ecological Zoning
Source: M.Otto
UNEP’s Role: Governance
 Involving relevant sectors in dialogues
 Convincing policy makers to apply a system of
economic and environmental accounting, including
valuation of natural capital
 Assisting in the development of policy and
management tools
Putting ecosystems at the center of the
water-energy-food Nexus
Examples of Relevant UNEP Activities
 Landcapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative
(with EcoAgriculture, FAO, WRI, CI, and other partners)
 Incorporation of ecosystems regulatory services in decision support systems
(with IWMI)
 Zambezi and Nile
 GEF floods and droughts project in the Mekong and Volta
 Integrating water and energy activities in the green economy
 Wastewater and sanitation resource recovery and energy reuse
 Work on biomass optimization using land and water (with FAO and IUCN -exploring options for a platform that engages various production and end use sectors,
governments and civil society)
 Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes, such as valuation efforts in
the Mekong and trans-boundary basin plans in Okavango
 Flagship project on Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (with UNDP, IUCN and BMU)
Recent publications
 The Bioenergy and Water Nexus
 Ecosystems for Water and Food Security
 Avoiding future famines: Strengthening the ecological foundation of food security
through sustainable food systems
 The Environmental Food Crisis: The Environment's role in averting future food crisis
Next Steps
 Promote science to address knowledge gaps
 Develop and promote a toolbox
 Policy support and capacity building
 Further engage in the dialogue
Creating a common vision:
The Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus
International Conference on
Sustainability in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus
19-20 May 2014 in Bonn, Germany
Complementary to IUCN/IWA Nexus dialogues on water infrastructures
Main topics
 Tools for the sustainable implementation of the Nexus approach
 Governance and management of the Nexus
 Considering the Environment and Livelihoods
 Implementing the Nexus at Various Scales
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