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The water-energy-food nexus in the Sahel, North Africa and the Middle East

Choices related to the use of water, energy, and food are typically taken in isolation, resulting in challenging intersectoral trade-offs. In this session, we discuss best practices on taking a nexus approach in the Sahel, the Middle East and North Africa.


9 November 2022

11:30 - 12:45 CET

COP27 Cascading Climate Risks Virtual Pavilion

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A decision on the use of water in one country can have negative implications for food or energy security in another one. So, how to simultaneously tackle energy, water and food insecurity in an interconnected world?

This event will unpack the complex choices policy-makers and practitioners need to make at the nexus of water, energy and food – choices that are made even more difficult today, in the current context of geopolitical turmoil and increased competition for energy resources. The event will also discuss how to better manage natural resources in light of climate change.

At various geographic scales, the multiple interlinkages among the energy, food and water sectors create trade-offs amongst objectives and risks of adverse spillover effects from one sector to another. Rapidly changing climatic conditions add further strain on the availability of these resources. These stresses, in turn, impact the most vulnerable communities, especially in developing countries. Here, the combination of more frequent weather hazards with strong tensions amongst those three sectors and strong socio-economic inequalities poses risks in terms of food, energy and water security as well as social cohesion, stability and peace.

Against this backdrop, a nexus (or, cross-sectoral) approach to managing common resources, across borders, could greatly enhance water, energy and food security in the Sahel, the Middle East and North Africa, where human security is closely linked to the availability of water, energy and food. Ideally, this approach includes increasing resource use efficiency, capitalising on regional complementarities, and improving natural resource governance.

In this session, we look for best practices and solutions to effectively implement a WEF nexus approach. Speakers from the Sahel, North Africa and the Middle East will present concrete situations from their respective regions in which choices over the use of water for energy or food create tensions, and present ideas on how to solve it. We will take a special look at innovative forms of regional cooperation and discuss what better natural resource governance entails.


  • Boubacar Abdou Boko, Technical Advisor, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Niger
  • Achref Chibani, Nonresident Fellow, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
  • Sophie Desmidt, Head – Peace, Security and Resilience, ECDPM
  • Roula Majdalani, Climate Change Advisor, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • Chair: Cecilia D’Alessandro, Junior Policy Officer, ECDPM