This discussion brief presents initial analysis of how a “nexus” approach to water, energy and food could illuminate key sustainability issues in the Orinoco River Basin in Colombia.

The region that Colombians call Orinoquia is renowned for its rich, ecologically diverse landscapes of wetlands, grasslands and forests, and is also home to 46 protected indigenous groups. Yet it is also fragile, and today it faces major challenges amid a surge in new development driven by both public and private investment, including new infrastructure, oil extraction and industrialscale agriculture. How this transformation is managed will determine whether the region becomes a model for sound development or a lesson in ecological collapse.

SEI and the Colombian government’s Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Research on Biological Resources (IavH) have begun to examine how a “nexus” approach to water, energy and food could help decision-makers better understand sustainability challenges in the Orinoco Basin. The two partners are now seeking funding for an in-depth research project to integrate currently fragmented water, energy, and land use planning and decision-making in the region and reduce negative cross-sectoral and ecological impacts.

The nexus approach starts from the premise that water, food and energy security are intimately interrelated, facing common threats and pressures from climate change, globalization, urbanization and environmental degradation. The issues are analysed together to support more efficient use of resources, reduce or re-use waste, direct investment towards sustainability and improve coherence in policy and institutions.

Download the brief (PDF, 1.2MB)