New Report: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean

In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), water is at the heart of the nexus, underpinning hydropower generation, agricultural production and industry. The LAC region is abundant in water, energy and land resources and these have been harnessed to fuel economic growth across the region.

Nexus Workshop Bogota (24-26 Sept 2013)

However, what ensues from the development of agriculture, mineral and energy endowments, is large-scale pollution and deforestation, undermining ecosystem services and threatening water security. Climate change impacts further multiply these threats through changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events. Recent water crises in the region, including the severe 2014 drought in Brazil’s economic heartland, have brought trade-offs between water, energy and food to the fore. Even in areas of great overall water abundance, such as Amazonia, severe droughts have highlighted a once unthinkable vulnerability.

Shared ownership of water resource also means shared risks. To meet the economic, environmental and social targets in the LAC region, nexus thinking, which focuses on cross-sectorial collaboration at the regional and local levels, will be a prerequisite for success in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"The water-energy-food nexus is a way to catalyse Integrated Water Resource Management. Without greater recognition of the role water plays in underpinning our economies, we will miss the opportunity to invest now in ecosystem services to ensure we have electricity, food, and enough water in the future", said James Dalton, IUCN Coordinator Global Water Initiatives.

The report 'The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean: Trade-offs, Strategic Priorities and Entry Points' identifies the main challenges and opportunities for achieving water, energy and food security in the region, with a particular focus on Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. The report builds on IUCN and IWA’s Latin American Nexus Dialogue workshop in 2013 and the Amazonia Security Agenda project, including over 40 interviews with key stakeholders across water, energy and food sectors in the region. The goal of the report is to support public and private sector decision-makers in the region by identifying key trade-offs between water, energy and food; strategic priorities to address key challenges for water, energy and food security; and entry points for a regional nexus dialogue.

This report provides a framework for action on infrastructure, information, institutions, governance, and investment. It suggests that Integrated Water Resource Management, as the main water management approach in the region, could be catalysed through greater cross-sectoral focus on water, energy and food security.

'The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Latin America and the Caribbean: Trade-offs, Strategic Priorities and Entry Points' was published in April, 2015 and is now available online. Please click here.


This publication was financially supported by The Climate and Development Knowledge Network, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the International Water Association, and GIZ on behalf of BMZ.

Work area: 
Climate Change
Global Policy
Environmental Law
South America
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