Water infrastructure portfolios in the Nexus Dialogue
The Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus ties three mutually-dependent securities together. Their inter-linkage is not new, but vitally important in our changing world. With population increase, land-use and climate change drastically impacting on water resources, the management and governance of water resources needs to be approached in a coherent and cross-sectoral way, across scales and with urgency. At the heart of the nexus debate are water infrastructure and technology.
- How is water infrastructure currently being used?
- What technologies are available to optimize across water supply sources?
- How can infrastructure be made more functional and sustainable to secure water supplies, food production and energy generation, without compromising the ecosystems we all rely on?
Development of infrastructure plays a pivotal role in making water available for agriculture, electricity generation and water supply. This infrastructure includes engineered structures such as dams, reservoirs, canals and irrigation systems. But it also includes ecosystems and watersheds that act as ‘natural infrastructure’: mangroves that buffer against severe storms, floodplains that absorb flood waters, forests that stabilize soils, lakes and wetlands that clean and store water. If this natural infrastructure is healthy and well-functioning, it supports built infrastructure to protect, store, clean and deliver water for cross-sectoral nexus water requirements.
Optimizing infrastructure for the nexus will mean mixing portfolios of engineered and natural infrastructure. Each component complements the other, with benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness, risk reduction, sustainable development and benefit sharing.