This opportunity was explored during the 18th annual meeting organized by the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance. Jakob Granit, Deputy Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute, met with Neil McLeod, this year’s Stockholm Industry Water Award winner, and discussed how analyzing the interaction between water, energy and food can create conditions for socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable development.
As founder and director for eThekwini Water and Sanitation – a company that has been providing the 1.3 million residents of Durban with fresh drinking water and nearly 1 million with access to safe sanitation – Niel McLeod is well aware of how the Nexus works. Despite the fact that sanitation is not stated among the initial nexus triangle, it is certainly present in the water-energy-food synergy, for instance, through energy and nutrient recovery and waste water treatment.
“I see the Nexus as an opportunities framework; it speaks about finding solutions, about matching need for energy and food with the resources available from sanitation. Working across the sectors can help to meet community needs and provide public sector with affordable service solutions, creating jobs and keeping the environment clean”, says Mr. McLeod.
Southern Africa is a region that is struggling with water stress. Climate scientists predict that rising temperatures and reduced rainfall are likely to make water stress even worse. These challenges will require making the most of the available resources, which will need a shift in governance and management of interconnected services.
Dr Granit suggests that nexus-thinking can help quantifying the tradeoffs between resources and making such a shift possible by finding new synergies supporting innovation.
“We need to demonstrate the real benefits from working along the Nexus. This approach will show where the challenges and opportunities are on all levels, regional and local. The key task is to identify the real life benefits of a nexus approach, such as kilowatts generated by managing water efficiently at the basin scale and increased access to sanitation among the population delivering food and health benefits in a productive local system. By demonstrating these gains such as in the case of eThekwini we can influence decision makers seeking sustainable solutions at different levels”.
In his research Jakob Granit focuses on how Nexus-management of natural resources in Southern Africa can ensure sustainable growth. He points out that: “the Nexus is an analytical framework that demonstrates how water, energy and food systems interact between each other. SEI and partners are on the forefront of this research and carry out projects in Colombia, China, Jordan, and Ethiopia and now at the regional Southern Africa scale. Our research results can support policy approaches to be considered to achieve sustainable development”.