Solutions Towards the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus


It is widely recognized that more “Nexus Thinking” is needed in resources management and that planning strategies should consider the needs of all sectors related to water, energy, food and the environment; and be based on a profound understanding of Nexus conflicts and trade-offs. However, Nexus systems can be extremely complex, depending on the spatial scale, seasonal variability, resources availability and demand as well as potential climatic, demographic and socioeconomic changes. Aside from understanding the economic trade-offs between the different resources uses, we need to be aware of the environmental implications of any intervention, and how it compromises other sectors. Typical examples are e.g. the impact of agricultural activities on water quantity and quality, reduced groundwater recharge due to increased technification and efficiency of irrigation, energy generation vs. water uses for domestic supply and agricultural activities, etc. ..). Therefore, only based on a WEF Security Nexus System assessment, we will be able to suggest adaptive solutions to improve sustainable resources planning.
 In recent years, qualitative and quantitative tools of varying complexity have been developed and applied to assess such Nexus components and interconnections (Bassel et al., 2015; Basheer et al., 2018; Schull et al., 2020). Many of these tools address decision-making and governance at the national or regional level and are capable of depicting the regional physical and institutional context of WEF Nexus systems (Hermann et al., 2012; Sieber et al., 2015; Daher and Mohtar, 2015). Therefore, there is a strong demand to provide tools that can assess such Nexus tradeoffs at local scale systems as eg. the catchment scale, irrigation scheme or urban system. 
 Based on such a Nexus system assessment, we can suggest and develop integrated, low-cost WEF Nexus conform solutions (hybrid and polyservice technologies), that can optimize resources supply and protect ecosystems. Common examples are agro-photovoltaics, photovoltaics combined with water treatment, waste(water) for fertilization and energy generation.

Therefore, this session aims at presenting and discussing concepts, methods and data that can support WEF Security assessment and governance approaches, as well as smart and integrated solutions that can improve the secure supply of clean resources.

Key Topics and Questions

  • Indicator based evaluation of Water, Energy and Food Security and their interconnections
  • Qualitative and quantitative assessment of WEF Nexus tradeoffs and synergies at different scales
  • Water-Energy-Security: hydropower versus water availability for domestic and agricultural uses and environmental implications. How can we optimize hydropower operation in this context?
  • Suggest locally suitable, integrated, low-cost WEF Nexus conform solutions (hybrid and polyservice technologies), , that can help to secure resources supply and optimize interrelations among them and to the ecosystems.
  • Showcase the implementation of locally suitable and Nexus conform (nature based) measures/technologies/solutions
  • Evaluate and suggest governance strategies to implement the „Nexus“ and foster synergies


Water Security, Energy Security, Food security, Nexus Assessment Tools, Nexus Governance, Nexus assessment indicators and indices, hydropower, irrigation, polyservice solutions, resources management, resources planning, governance. 

Hosted by

Lars Ribbe

Dean of Faculty of Spatial Development and Infrastructure Systems
Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), TH Köln

Alexandra Nauditt

Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT), TH Köln