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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