There is wide agreement that a nexus or integrated approach to managing and governing natural resources such as land, water and energy can improve environmental, climate, human and political security. However, few if any countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have made progress in implementing such an approach.

There appear to be several constraints inhibiting the development and adoption of nexus approaches in the region. These include strong sectoral silos; insufficient incentives for integrated planning and policy-making at all levels; and limited vision, knowledge and practical experience to guide successful implementation. In turn, the limited implementation and hence lack of empirical evidence of a nexus approach, which could demonstrate its benefits, does not help to strengthen political will for the development of adequate incentives, structures and procedures.

Against this backdrop, this paper presents five case studies that take an integrated approach in three MENA countries, namely Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. Based on an analytical framework developed in the paper, it analyses and compares the success factors for nexus implementation, and also for transfer and upscaling. The analysis emphasizes the need for appropriate framework conditions, targeted investments and pioneering actors, to make integrated approaches across sectors and levels work.

With the evidence presented, the paper aims to set in motion a virtuous cycle where generation of more nexus evidence leads to improved framework conditions, further nexus implementation on the ground, and from that even more nexus evidence. Finally, the paper responds to repeated requests for better definition and conceptualization of the nexus.