Knowledge for better food systems

The water–food–energy nexus: Power, politics and justice

This book, by Jeremy Allouche, Carl Middleton and Dipak Gyawali, describes and critiques different understandings of the concept of the “nexus” between water, food and energy.

Publisher’s summary

The world of development thinkers and practitioners is abuzz with a new lexicon: the idea of "the nexus" between water, food and energy which is institutively compelling. It promises better integration of multiple sectoral elements, a better transition to greener economies and sustainable development. However, there appears to be little agreement on its precise meaning, whether it only complements existing environmental governance approaches or how it can be enhanced in national contexts. One current approach to the nexus treats it as a risk and security matter while another treats it within economic rationality addressing externalities across sector. A third perspective acknowledges it as a fundamentally political process requiring negotiation amongst different actors with distinct perceptions, interests and practices. This perspective highlights the fact that technical solutions for improving coherence within the nexus may have unintended and negative impacts in other policy areas, such as poverty alleviation and education.

The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice lays out the managerial-technical definitions of the nexus and challenges these conceptions by bringing to the forefront the politics of the nexus, around two key dimensions – a dynamic understanding of water-food-energy systems, and a normative positioning around nexus debates, in particular around social justice. The authors argue that a shift in nexus governance is required towards approaches where limits to control are acknowledged, and more reflexive/plural strategies adopted.

This book will be of interest to academic researchers, policy makers and practitioners in the fields of international development studies, environmental politics, science and technology studies as well as international relations.

 

Reference

Allouche, J., Middleton, C. and Dipak Gyawali, D. (2018). The Water–Food–Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice. Routledge, London.

Read more here. See also the Foodsource building block What are food systems?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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