P-LINK Incorporates Lessons Learned from Similar Initiatives Related to the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

Nov 20, 2023 | ROK-UNOSSC Facility

The interlinkages between water, energy and food were introduced as a novice concept at the 2008 World Economic Forum (WEF). Following the 2011 Bonn Nexus Conference where the term “Water-Energy-Food Nexus” was coined, a lot of research and development cooperation projects took place diving into the practical application of WEF Nexus approach to promote integrated policy making and sustainable management of the key resources.

Against this backdrop, the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) of the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the Mekong Institute (MI) mapped out selected WEF Nexus related initiatives to analyze key success factors and bottlenecks as well as draw lessons learnt that could be incorporated into the design and implementation of national technical pilots under P-LINK in line with the principles of South-South and triangular cooperation (SS & TrC), that is to promote sharing of knowing and experiences.

The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) reviewed three cases at the global and regional levels – 1) Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) 2) Urban Nexus and 3) Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Korea and utilization for LAC countries that had different project scope, modality and implementation arrangements. Drawing implications applicable to P-LINK from each initiative, the study concludes with the following five recommendations for P-LINK:

  • Prepare all: Work jointly in identifying key development challenges with a clear understanding on the WEF nexus concept, and build a consensus on the project design before implementation
  • Localizing demand and responsibility: Take a demand-driven approach tailoring to the local needs and advocate local ownership of the project
  • Regular information sharing and communications: Ensure accountable and transparent collaboration through regular information and communication for all the involved project stakeholders to be on the same page
  • Moving together: As projects are timebound, it is important to implement and deliver the results in line with the agreed project schedule.
  • Creating and innovating: Encourage new forms of thinking, leadership and commitment through

The Mekong Institute (MI)’s publication provides a brief overview of the WEF Nexus, SS & TrC and build back forward (BFB) concepts in the context of COVID-19 pandemic recovery in the Mekong region. The study addresses the ongoing development challenges in the Mekong including climate change and maps out WEF Nexus related work in the region. In particular, it draws lessons learnt from two projects are taking place in the Mekong region 1) Thai Rice NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action and 2) WE4F in the South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub. The study concludes with the following seven recommendations:

  • Key successful factors and lessons learned from the WEF case studies should be further systematically captured through evaluating mid-term/final reports and having conversations with key staffs responsible for the projects to put in place a more flexible and adaptive approach to learning rather than responding to unexpected challenges on an ad-hoc basis.
  • Existing and new approaches (policies, innovations, and interventions) that empower women’s leadership and access to resources in the development and implementation of WEF nexus initiatives should be further emphasized.
  • Global agenda contribution should be more highlighted through participating in international and high-level events concerning the WEF nexus and climate change.
  • Political multi-sectoral partnerships and donor cooperation especially in identifying and engaging with potential partners at the global and regional levels should be further strengthened.
  • Cross-regional exchanges for WEF nexus initiatives should be organized to promote interactive conversations and discussions that could help identify synergies, form alliances, integrate gender approaches, and exchange experiences.
  • Past and ongoing WEF nexus initiatives carried out in the Mekong basin should be additionally reviewed to get insight into key successful factors, good practices, barriers, and challenges.
  • Building on the previous experience and achievements and adhering to the principle of SS & TrC, the integrated BFB concept and WEF nexus should be implemented on the ground in the LMB.

P-LINK will integrate findings and recommendations from these studies especially in the implementation of the four technical national pilots in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It also aims to generate good practices on the application of WEF Nexus through these pilots to be shared with the global community.


About the Project

The “Triangular Cooperation Project on Sustainable Development in the Lower Mekong River Basin based on the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus” (2021-2025) aims to strengthen access to water, food and energy for vulnerable communities living in the Lower Mekong Basin (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam) through strengthening development approaches and management in these sectors. It will take integrative and multi-sectoral approaches in application of highly demanded technologies on water, energy and food to improve the livelihoods of the people based on South-South and triangular cooperation modalities. The 5-year project is supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea, and the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) leads the project in partnership with other institutions including the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS), Mekong Institute (MI) and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) and will enlist the help of other UN Agencies.