Folder Issue 1

February 2015

Documents

pdf Popular

Technical veil, hidden politics: Interrogating the power linkages behind the nexus

Jeremy Allouche
Institute of Development Studies, STEPS Centre, Brighton, UK; j.allouche@ids.ac.uk

Carl Middleton
MA in International Development Studies Program, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; carl.chulalongkorn@gmail.com

Dipak Gyawali
Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Kathmandu, Nepal; dipakgyawali@ntc.net.np

ABSTRACT: The nexus is still very much an immature concept. Although it is difficult to disagree with a vision of integration between water, food and energy systems, there are fewer consensuses about what it means in reality. While some consider its framing to be too restrictive (excluding climate change and nature), particular actors see it as linked to green economy and poverty reduction, while others emphasise global scarcity and value chain management. The nexus debates, however, mask a bigger debate on resource inequality and access, contributing to social instability. Indeed, the market-technical framing of the nexus by the World Economic Forum, located in international business imperatives and global neoliberal policy hides political issues such as inequality, the manufacture of scarcity and international political economy and geopolitics. By addressing these, we then propose a new framing of the nexus.

KEYWORDS: Nexus, scarcity, politics, technology, systems approach



 

pdf Popular

Competition, conflict, and compromise: Three discourses used by irrigators in England and their implications for the co-management of water resources

Luke Whaley
Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK; l.whaley@cranfield.ac.uk

Edward K. Weatherhead
Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK; k.weatherhead@cranfield.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: In this paper we use discourse analysis to explore the current dynamic that exists among farmer irrigators in England, and between irrigators and water managers in order to understand the potential for co-management to develop. To do this we employ two concepts from the field of critical discursive psychology – 'interpretive repertoires' and 'subject positions' – and apply them to a qualitative analysis of 20 interviews with farmers who are members of irrigator groups and two focus group discussions with farmers thinking about forming an irrigator group. The findings reveal that the participants drew upon three interpretive repertoires when talking about the relationship between farming and water resources management, namely the 'competition', 'conflict', and 'compromise' repertoires, with the latter being the least dominant. We situate the repertoires in their wider historical context to reveal the ideological forces at play, and conclude that the relative dominance of the competition and conflict repertoires serve as a barrier to co-management. In particular, this is because they engender low levels of trust and reinforce a power dynamic that favours individualism and opposition. At the same time, the less-dominant compromise repertoire challenges the power of the other two, providing some hope of achieving more participatory forms of water resources management in the future. To this end, we discuss how the restructuring of current agri-environment schemes and government water programmes may be used to promote the adoption and institutionalisation of the compromise repertoire in order to facilitate the emergence of co-management.

KEYWORDS: Water resources, co-management, farming, discourse, power, England



 

pdf Popular

Power-sharing in the English lowlands? The political economy of farmer participation and cooperation in water governance

Luke Whaley
Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK; l.whaley@cranfield.ac.uk

Edward K. Weatherhead
Cranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, UK; k.weatherhead@cranfield.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: Participatory and cooperative forms of water governance have become regular features of government discourse and stated policy objectives in England. We consider this aspiration from the perspective of farmers in the English lowlands, by analysing the current power dynamic that exists among these farmers, and between them and the key stakeholders involved in water management. To do this we undertake a political economy analysis that places lowland farming and water governance within the evolution of historical processes that, over time, have influenced the ability of farmers to participate in the governance of their water environment. These historical developments are interpreted through the lens of the Power Cube, an analytical tool for thinking about the interplay between different forms of power operating in different types of spaces and at different levels of governance. Our findings reveal that, despite there being a number of structural changes that provide lowland farmers with the opportunity to participate and cooperate in water governance, three distinct barriers stand in the way. These relate to the power 'within' these farmers, which continues to align with a productivist ideology founded on individualism and competition, often at the expense of the environment; the power that government water managers still exercise 'over' farmers instead of 'with' them; and the relationship between lowland farming and environmental interests, where historically the two sides’ power 'to' act has been diametrically opposed. The findings point to the importance of developing suitable programmes designed to support and incentivize farmer participation and cooperation.

KEYWORDS: Power Cube, participation and cooperation, water governance, farming, lowland England



 

pdf Popular

Social norms in water services: Exploring the fair price of water

Ossi Heino
Tampere University of Technology, Department of Chemistry and Bioengineering, Tampere, Finland; ossi.heino@tut.fi

Annina Takala
Tampere University of Technology, Department of Chemistry and Bioengineering, Tampere, Finland; annina.takala@tut.fi

ABSTRACT: The aim of this article is to analyse price fairness in water services. Although a considerable amount of literature has been published on water pricing, these studies have mainly approached the question from instrumental and rational perspectives. Little attention has been paid to the human side of water pricing. Therefore, the general objective of this research is to shed light on these softer factors, filling the gap in knowledge of the emotional connections with water services. In this research, we explored peopleʼs ideas and views about water pricing by conducting 74 interviews in 11 municipalities in Finland. The results suggest that people are not just rational consumers of a good but also have emotional ties to water utilities and municipal decision-making. The general attitude towards a water utility is confident and sympathetic if its operations and municipal decision-making processes are considered as fair, and conversely, unsympathetic if operations and decision-making are considered unfair. This is a topical issue as many water utilities are facing pressures to increase water prices; being fair appeared to be a crucial way to gain appreciation and support through difficult times. Because fairness seems to be an emergent property of social experiences, special attention should be paid to the 'soft side' of water services.

KEYWORDS: Water services, water pricing, price fairness, social norms, Finland



 

pdf Popular

The rise and implications of the water-energy-food nexus in Southeast Asia through an environmental justice lens

Carl Middleton
MA in International Development Studies Program, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; carl.chulalongkorn@gmail.com

Jeremy Allouche
Institute of Development Studies, STEPS Centre, Brighton, UK; j.allouche@ids.ac.uk

Dipak Gyawali
Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Kathmandu, Nepal; dipakgyawali@ntc.net.np

Sarah Allen
Department of Geography, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; saallen@yorku.ca

ABSTRACT: This article maps the rise of the water-energy-food 'nexus' as a research, policy and project agenda in mainland Southeast Asia. We argue that introducing the concept of environmental justice into the nexus, especially where narratives, trade-offs and outcomes are contested, could make better use of how the nexus is framed, understood and acted upon. With funding from high-income country donors, it is found to have diffused from a global policy arena into a regional one that includes international and regional organisations, academic networks, and civil society, and national politicians and government officials. The nexus is yet to be extensively grounded, however, into national policies and practices, and broad-based local demand for nexus-framed policies is currently limited. The article contends that if the nexus is to support stated aspirations for sustainable development and poverty reduction, then it should engage more directly in identifying winners and losers in natural resource decision-making, the politics involved, and ultimately with the issue of justice. In order to do so, it links the nexus to the concept of environmental justice via boundary concepts, namely: sustainable development; the green economy; scarcity and addressing of trade-offs; and governance at, and across, the local, national and transnational scale.

KEYWORDS: Nexus, environmental justice, sustainable development, water-energy-food, Southeast Asia



 

pdf Popular

Node and regime: Interdisciplinary analysis of water-energy-food nexus in the Mekong Region

Tira Foran
CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Canberra, Australia; tira.foran@csiro.au

ABSTRACT: Understanding complex phenomena such as the water-energy-food nexus (resource nexus) requires a more holistic, interdisciplinary inquiry. Spurred by a sense of imbalance in approaches to the nexus dominated by integrated assessment/complex systems methodologies, I re-examine the findings and recommendations of a major 'nexus' research-for-development project in the Mekong region. The concept of 'regime of provisioning', a synthesis of social science concepts related to meso-level social order, allows essential political economy and discursive elements of the resource nexus to be analysed. I show that socio-political regimes constrain societal investment in three 'nodes' of the nexus previously identified as critical to manage sustainably: energy efficiency, wild-capture fisheries, and diversified smallholder agriculture. I discuss implications for the 'nexus' as a new policy agenda and offer three propositions for ongoing inquiry and inclusive practice.

KEYWORDS: Water, energy, food security, nexus, critical social science, complex systems, Mekong region



 

pdf Popular

The 'nexus' as a step back towards a more coherent water resource management paradigm

Mike Muller
Wits University Graduate School of Public and Development Management, Johannesburg, South Africa; mikemuller1949@gmail.com

Abstract: The interrelationships between water resources, food production and energy security have influenced policy for many decades so the emergence of the water-food-energy “nexus” as a proposed new focus for water resources management is surprising. This focus is suggested to be understood as a consequence of the decision by developed countries to ignore agreements reached at the 1992 Rio Summit on Sustainable Development and promote instead a “Dublin IWRM”, their original lobbying platform. That approach has not helped developing countries to address food, energy and water security nor assisted global businesses to expand or to manage the risks posed to their operations by poor water management. The nexus approach begins to address these concerns by focusing on a specific “problem-shed”. While this may disintegrate the original robust concept of integrated water management, its emphasis on what water may do for society rather than what society should do for water is a step back toward a more coherent and useful paradigm.

Keywords: Water resources management, food security, energy security, political economy analysis, environmental policy



 

pdf Popular

Securitising sustainability? Questioning the 'water, energy and food-security nexus'

Matthias Leese
International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW), University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany; matthias.leese@izew.uni-tuebingen.de

Simon Meisch
International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW), University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany; simon.meisch@uni-tuebingen.de

ABSTRACT: The water, energy and food-security nexus approach put forward by the Bonn2011 Conference highlights the need for an integrative approach towards issues of water, energy and food, and puts them under a general framework of security. While acknowledging the need for urgent solutions in terms of sustainability, the nexus approach, at the same time, makes a normative claim to tackle the needs of the poorest parts of the world population. A closer look at the underlying rationales and proposed policy instruments, however, suggests that the primary scope of the conference proceedings is not a normative one, but one that reframes the conflict between distributional justice and the needs of the world economy under the paradigm of security. Reading this slightly shifted perspective through a Foucauldian lens, we propose that security is now put forward as the key mechanism to foster a new 'green' economy, and that the needs of the poorest are, if anything at all, a secondary effect of the proposed nexus approach.

KEYWORDS: sustainability, nexus, securitisation, green economy, development



 

pdf Popular

Tackling complexity: Understanding the food-energy-environment nexus in Ethiopia’s Lake Tana sub-basin

Louise Karlberg
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; louise.karlberg@sei-international.org

Holger Hoff
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; holger.hoff@sei-international.org

Tedasse Amsalu
Institute for Land Administration, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia; tadesse_2@yahoo.co.uk

Kim Andersson
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; kim.andersson@sei-international.org

Taylor Binnington
Stockholm Environment Institute, Somerville, MA, USA; taylor.binnington@sei-international.org

Francisco Flores-López
Stockholm Environment Institute, Davis, CA, USA; franscisco.flores@sei-international.org

Annemarieke de Bruin
Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, Heslington, York, UK; annemarieke.debruin@sei-international.org

Solomon Gebreyohannis Gebrehiwot
Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; solomon.gebreyohannies@slu.se

Birhanu Gedif
Geospatial Data and Technology Centre (GDTC), Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia; birhanu1968@gmail.com

Oliver Johnson
Stockholm Environment Institute, c/o ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya; oliver.johnson@sei-international.org

Friedrich zur Heide
GFA Consulting Group, Hamburg, Germany; Friedrich.zurHeide@gfa-group.de

Maria Osbeck
Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; maria.osbeck@sei-international.org

Chuck Young
Stockholm Environment Institute, Davis, CA, USA; chuck.young@sei-international.org

ABSTRACT: Ethiopia has embarked upon a rapid growth and development trajectory aiming to become a middle-income country by 2025. To achieve this goal, an agricultural development led industrialization strategy is being implemented which aims to intensify and transform agriculture, thereby boosting yields and, subsequently, economic returns. At the same time, the energy use which currently consists of more than 90% traditional biomass use is shifting towards increasing electricity production predominantly from large-scale hydropower plants, with the aim to improve access to modern energy sources. While the targets are commendable it is not clear that either all direct impacts or potential conflicts between goals have been considered. In this paper we evaluate and compare the impacts of alternative development trajectories pertaining to agriculture, energy and environment for a case-study location, the Lake Tana Subbasin, with a focus on current national plans and accounting for cross-sector interlinkages and competing resource use: the food-energy-environment nexus. Applying a nexus toolkit (WEAP and LEAP) in participatory scenario development we compare and evaluate three different future scenarios. We conclude that the two processes – agricultural transformation and energy transition – are interdependent and could be partly competitive. As agriculture becomes increasingly intensified, it relies on more energy. At the same time, the energy system will, at least in the foreseeable future, continue to be largely supported by biomass, partly originating from croplands. Two outstanding dilemmas pertaining to resources scarcity were identified. Water needed for energy and agricultural production, and to sustain ecosystem services, sometimes exceeds water availability. Moreover, the region seems to be hitting a biomass ceiling where the annual increments in biomass from all terrestrial ecosystems are in the same order of magnitude as biomass needs for food, fodder and fuel. We propose that a stakeholder-driven nexus approach, underpinned by quantitative and spatially explicit scenario and planning tools, can help to resolve these outstanding dilemmas and can support more consistent policy and decision making, towards improved resource productivities, lower environmental pressures and enhanced human securities.

KEYWORDS: Energy transition, agricultural intensification and transformation, WEAP-LEAP, participatory scenario development, Ethiopia



 

pdf Popular

The water-energy-food security nexus through the lenses of the value chain and the Institutional Analysis and Development frameworks

Sergio Villamayor-Tomas
Division of Resource Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany; villamas@agrar.hu-berlin.de

Philipp Grundmann
Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Potsdam, Germany; pgrundmann@atb-potsdam.de

Graham Epstein
The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA; gepstein@indiana.edu

Tom Evans
Department of Geography and Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA; evans@indiana.edu

Christian Kimmich
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland, and Division of Resource Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany; christian.kimmich@wsl.ch

ABSTRACT: A number of frameworks have been used to study the water-food-energy nexus; but few of these consider the role of institutions in mediating environmental outcomes. In this paper we aim to start filling that gap by combining insights from the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework and value chain analysis. Specifically we study food, energy and water value chains as networks of action situations (NAS) where actorsʼ decisions depend not only on the institutional structure of a particular situation but also on the decisions made in related situations. Although the IAD framework has developed a solid reputation in the policy sciences, empirical applications of the related NAS concept are rare. Value-chain analysis can help drawing the empirical boundaries of NAS as embedded in production processes. In this paper we first use value-chain analysis to identify important input-output linkages among water, food and energy production processes, and then apply the IAD-NAS approach to better understand the effect of institutions within and across those processes. The resulting combined framework is then applied to four irrigation-related case studies including: the use of energy for water allocation and food production in an irrigation project in Spain; the production and allocation of treated water for food and bioenergy production in Germany; the allocation of water for food production and urban use in Kenya; and the production and allocation of energy for food production in Hyderabad, India. The case analyses reveal the value of the framework by demonstrating the importance of establishing linkages across energy, water and food-related situations and the ways in which institutions limit or facilitate synergies along the value chains.

KEYWORDS: Water-energy-food nexus, Institutional Analysis and Development framework, Socio-Ecological Systems Framework, value-chain analysis, irrigation cases



 

pdf Popular

Water governance in a comparative perspective: From IWRM to a 'nexus' approach?

David Benson
The Environment and Sustainability Institute and Department of Politics, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall, UK; d.i.benson@exeter.ac.uk

Animesh K. Gain
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany; animesh@gfz-potsdam.de

Josselin J. Rouillard
Ecologic Institute, Berlin, Germany; josselin.rouillard@ecologic.eu

ABSTRACT: Nexus thinking, in the form of integrating water security with agriculture, energy and climate concerns, is normatively argued to help better transition societies towards greener economies and the wider goal of sustainable development. Yet several issues emerge from the current debate surrounding this concept, namely the extent to which such conceptualisations are genuinely novel, whether they complement (or are replacing) existing environmental governance approaches and how – if deemed normatively desirable – the nexus can be enhanced in national contexts. This paper therefore reviews the burgeoning nexus literature to determine some common indicative criteria before examining its implementation in practice vis-à-vis more established integrated water resources management (IWRM) models. Evidence from two divergent national contexts, the UK and Bangladesh, suggests that the nexus has not usurped IWRM, while integration between water, energy, climate and agricultural policy objectives is generally limited. Scope for greater merging of nexus thinking within IWRM is then discussed.

KEYWORDS: Nexus, integrated water resources management (IWRM), water governance, energy, agriculture



 

pdf Popular

Understanding political will in groundwater management: Comparing Yemen and Ethiopia

Frank van Steenbergen
MetaMeta Research, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands; fvansteenbergen@metameta.nl

Assefa Kumsa
CoCoon Groundwater in the Political Domain Team, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; akumsa@metameta.nl

Nasser Al-Awlaki
CoCoon Groundwater in the Political Domain Team, Yemen; former Minister of Agriculture of Yemen.

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the role of politics in water management, in particular, comparing groundwater management in Yemen and Ethiopia. It tries to understand the precise meaning of the often-quoted term 'political will' in these different contexts and compares the autocratic and oligarchic system in Yemen with the dominant party 'developmental state' in Ethiopia. The links between these political systems and the institutional domain are described as well as the actual management of groundwater on the ground. Whereas the Ethiopian state is characterised by the use of hard power and soft ideational power, the system in Yemen relies at most on soft negotiating power. There is a strong link between the political system, the positioning of different parties and access to power, the role of central and local governments, the propensity to plan and vision, the effectiveness of government organisations, the extent of corruption, the influence of informal governance mechanisms, the scope for private initiative and the political interest in groundwater management and development in general. More important than political will per se is political capacity – the ability to implement and regulate.

KEYWORDS: Groundwater, conflict, cooperation, politics, governance, Yemen, Ethiopia