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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