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Emerging Issues Facing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in the Middle East and Asia

About the Project

The Energy and Water workshop series brings together experts from the private and public sectors, regulatory bodies, international institutions, academia, and think-tanks to explore the interlinkages in the water-energy-food nexus. Specific attention is placed on how energy is used to meet water demand in both water scarce and water abundant countries. Other issues of importance include how water and energy are mobilized for food production and better policies for transboundrial governance of water and energy resources.

Key Points

As economies in the Middle East and Asia grow and develop, there will be further strain on water, energy and food resources – each inextricably linked to the others. Much of the Middle East is energy abundant, but population growth and economic development have led to severe water and food scarcity. In Asia, despite a comparative abundance of water, energy and food, the problem is increasingly one of economic scarcity – the inability to finance the mobilization of these vital resources.

  • Water for agriculture: There is not enough robust data on the inter dependencies of water, energy and food. There is an opportunity to improve data collection so that proper economic, environmental and social impact assessments can be performed before policy decisions for resource management are made.
  • Transboundary governance: Water basins do not respect national boundaries, making their management more difficult. When conflicts occur, bottom up solutions such as cooperation for sub-basin management can provide a platform for international water management. Examples of successful transboundary governance can be found in the Mekong River delta and Nile River basin.
  • Infrastructure financing: In Asia, securing the least cost water and energy utility provision option is important, given financial constraints. The ‘pro-poor public-private partnerships’ (5P) experience is one approach that attempts to harmonize private sector efficiency with public sector development goals.
  • Coordination: Energy and water infrastructure projects are not always considered as a package, for example cooling water for power plants. An integrated planning process can improve coordination among different institutions and result in more resilient and sustainable infrastructure investments.


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