Nexus Regional Dialogue in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
Nexus in a concerning environment: MENA
The MENA region is known to be water scarce, food deficient, energy intensive and highly vulnerable to the potential impacts of climate change. Despite containing 43% of the world’s oil reserves and immense potential for renewable energy, 35 million people in the Arab region remain without access to electricity. Additionally, the region only contains 1.4% of the world’s freshwater resources, making it one of the world’s most water-scarce regions. With respect to food, the Arab Region is the world’s largest importer of wheat. Recent economic instability has left its population even more vulnerable to food insecurity. The ongoing conflicts and security conditions furthermore undermine the ability to manage the sustainability of natural resources.
Such conditions create immense challenges to the governments. Trying to achieve the supply security of one sector without consideration of the other two will inevitably lead to unsustainable solutions. For example, achieving food security by domestic production without consideration of the renewable water resources will lead to over-exploitation, deterioration. Furthermore is can also lead to the loss of agricultural productivity and the deterioration of the agriculture sector itself.
Such strong inter-dependence and close inter-linkages of these three sectors, call for an integrated "Nexus” approach when addressing the management of the three WEF sectors. To achieve the supply security and respect sustainable resource use a holistic management and governance across sectors is needed.
Among the different areas of interconnections between the WEF sectors that are identified as of priority interest in the region, there are: solar desalination, solar energy for waste water treatment and reuse, solar pumping and offshore agricultural investments to ensure food security and preserve scarce water resources.
There is a growing recognition in the region to adopt the Nexus approach. A regional-level dialogue on the Nexus has been fostered by the League of Arab States (LAS). It started at the Regional South-South Arab Development Expo in Doha in February 2014 and resulted in six Nexus policy briefs for the Region. These policy briefs are the base line of the new Nexus regional dialogue (NRD) by the Nexus Dialogue Programme with the LAS as political partner and the GIZ/ACCWaM Programme as additional project partner. Nexus studies for Jordan, Morocco and Egypt are ongoing.
The NRD aims at engaging members of the Arab Ministerial Water Council (AMWC), Arab Ministerial Council on Electricity (AMCE), and Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE) in its activities on the regional level. The upcoming activities of the NDP in the region for the first phase include: two Nexus country assessments, two Nexus Applications for demonstrations purposes, and Nexus capacity development training.