By Rebecca Welling. Walking into my first UNECE meeting on the topic of the Nexus in transboundary basins, I was a little nervous and not sure what to expect. It was the first time I attended a meeting in the UN headquarters representing IUCN Water, and on top of this I was to do a presentation on the role of Nature in the Nexus the following morning.
The two day UNECE meeting, titled the 'Task Force on Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus in transboundary basins' gathered people from these different spheres globally, including ministerial officials and NGO representatives, to map out the Task Force’s plan for the next two years with the goal of completing several basin assessments on the nexus by 2015. These assessments are planned to identify intersectoral synergies and mutually beneficial solutions that can help reduce trade-offs and potential conflicts across sectors and borders, to support the decision-making processes and enhance sustainability. In other words, finding complex solutions for complex situations.
From IUCN’s perspective, it was refreshing to see ecosystems included so explicitly in Nexus rhetoric, as a ‘component’ alongside water, food and energy. However, listening to the conversations around the table throughout the first day, I realised the importance of IUCN and other environmental organisations' presence in promoting this ecosystems component. There were some participants, who we’ve worked with before, Wetlands International and the Niger Basin Authority to name a few, who spoke the same language as us – that natural infrastructure underpins the three securities and is therefore critical to the nexus. But it was clear that the ecosystems component of the assessment is currently the weakest link.
With this realisation I felt compelled to promote our message and pleased to be there presenting natural infrastructure as part of the nexus. After my presentation, I had the opportunity to have some interesting one-on-one talks and participate in group discussions where I noticed more references being made to natural infrastructure and the ecosystems component. I was also approached by some participants, one from the Ministry of foreign affairs of Afghanistan, to find out more about how to incorporate natural infrastructure solutions into water resource management.
This Task Force meeting was also an opportunity to gather excellent case studies, tools, models and guidelines for our 'Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions' initiative, as participants presented basin case studies and frameworks for meeting nexus challenges. These resources will certainly help to build up our online platform of nexus solutions.
The IUCN powerpoint as presented during the UNECE Task Force, can be viewed by visiting the following link on our SlideShare channel: Natural Infrastructure in the Nexus - PPT