Session 20 comparing the nexus along the mekong ganga


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3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food & Energy 2013. Presentation from Session 20: Is the Nexus Secure … and for Whom?: Unpacking Nexus Discourses on Food, Water, and Energy Security in South and Southeast Asia

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Session 20 comparing the nexus along the mekong ganga

  1. 1. COMPARING THE NEXUS ALONG THE MEKONG – GANGA: The need for a more Dynamic Approach To Water, Energy and Food Security © Suthep Kritsanavarin Jeremy Allouche, Dipak Gyawali and Carl
  2. 2. Outline • • • • Introduction Background: The STEPS method The Water Energy Food Nexus Water, Energy, Food and Climate Security • Water storage and water (in)security • Our research questions and planned next steps
  3. 3. I. Introduction
  4. 4. “A Perfect Storm” (?) • After 20 years of low food commodity prices, the price shock of 2007/08 brought agriculture, food production and food security sharply back into the limelight. “A Prefect Storm”: The words of John Beddington, the Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government, when talking about the relationships between food, energy, water and the climate • Narratives of crisis, thresholds and boundaries, climate change tipping points … and perfect storms
  5. 5. Background to our project • We will examine the relationship between different types of water storage and the WEF-Societal nexus, • Comparative study of Laos-Thailand and Nepal-India using the conceptual framework of “dynamic sustainabilities” • Seek to unpack how discourses of food security, water security and energy security may lead to particular development pathways whilst precluding others • Our intent is to explore the plurality of alternative pathways for sustainable development in a changing political economy of water in South and Southeast Asia • We’re just getting started. …. We are testing in South+SE Asia the falsifiability of the STEPS method, and also seeking to extend it to the concept of security
  6. 6. Asia in Transition: New Political Economies of Water • The changing political economy of water, including the changing role of market and state. • But, built upon the foundations of the old political economies • New visions for the future of Asia’s major rivers, … often built upon old unfulfilled mega-project schemes. • Growing role of private sector in promoting, building and operating large water infrastructure • Shift towards private governance mechanisms
  7. 7. II. Background: The “STEPS method” More information here:
  8. 8. Evolving understanding of sustainability “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.” Our Common Future, 1987 Stability / equilibrium thinking
  9. 9. Dynamic Sustainability • Dynamic Sustainability: –Acceptance of complexity –Acceptance of uncertainty and surprise (not full knowledge and predictability) –From assuming environmental systems in equilibrium to thinking about non-equilibrium (dynamic, multiple stable states, in multiple scale) • Look at: –Ecological systems –Forms of knowledge and ways of knowing –Economic, social and institutional processes –Technological choices
  10. 10. How should we (and our institutions) deal with different types of incomplete knowledge in decision making?
  11. 11. Dynamic Sustainability: Framing (explaining) systems •Many different ways of understanding and explaining a system … leading to different narratives – Different values, experiences, interests… •Diversity of framings of structure and – Politics of knowledge – Politics of scale – Politics of participation system function
  12. 12. style of action control (tractable drivers ) shock (transient disruption) temporality of change stress STABILITY respond (intractable drivers ) RESILIENCE Limits to control SUSTAINABILITY DURABILITY ROBUSTNESS (enduring shift) Rate and scale of change • Different narratives prioritize different aspects of systems dynamics and propose different strategies to deal with them • Existing managerial approaches have a tendency towards “stability” solutions
  13. 13. Dynamic Sustainability and Governance
  14. 14. National Water Policies = Rain in Colorado Desert Why? Too much ‘Eagle Eye’ Science Too little ‘Toad’s Eye’ Science Both are necessary but neither alone is sufficient: ES lacks roots while TS lacks perspective Dipak Gyawali, Nepal Water Conservation Foundation
  15. 15. What technology? Whose technology? Hegemony of Runaway Technology??!!
  16. 16. Governance towards inclusive and fair ‘dynamic sustainability’ • Broadening out the inputs to appraisals –Participatory engagement –Accept a diversity of knowledges –Humbly acknowledge uncertainty –Address issues of rights, equity and power • Opening up the outputs –A range of options and possible alternatives –More participatory, deliberative and reflexive forms of governance
  17. 17. III. The Water Energy Food (WEF) Nexus
  18. 18. The Water Energy Food Nexus • World Economic Forum since 2008 • Strongly links water security to economic growth • Water may be underpriced, creating agricultural bubbles • “Bubble Burst” phenomenon • Bonn Conference in 2011 and Rio +20 negotiations in 2012, and thus linked to the concept of the “Green Economy” • Integration of three systems - food, energy and water – as the nexus sectors and which are interdependent • Three guiding principles: • Investing to sustain ecosystem services • Creating more with less • Accelerating access, integrating the poorest • A new vocabulary to define sustainable development?
  19. 19. Bonn 2011 to Rio+20 • “the Green Economy, an economy that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities...In Green Economy natural capital is valued as a critical economic asset as a provider for benefits for the poor” (Hoff, 2011) Yet, the World Social Forum has called the Green Economy “the Green Washington Consensus,” stating “this latest phase of capitalist expansion seeks to exploit and profit by putting a price value on the essential life-giving capacities of nature”
  20. 20. The market and the informal economy/ commons in the Green Economy • Much water – food – energy nexus in Asia remains within the informal economy/ held as commons. • This raises questions about what types of institutions are needed, including the: • Role of state • Role of private sector • What do you do when the formal market (law, insurance,
  21. 21. Some emergent themes of the WEF Nexus • Water security remains central to the concept of nexus: • Under some interpretations, more dams needed as storage technologies • The ‘nexus’ debate is primarily a debate about dealing with natural resource scarcity • Scarcity may be constructed by inequitable access • A need to discuss the decision making of trade-offs • Water, land and energy have different governing regimes, making nexus governance difficult. • Some serious decisions on resource allocations: Who takes them for whom?
  22. 22. Some emergent themes of the WEF Nexus • Replacing/ displacing/ complimenting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)? • Are we talking about a singular nexus or a plural one, • A range of pathways to sustainability As a paradigm, food-water-energy nexus remains vague, including its relationship with food, water, and energy security.
  23. 23. Increased interest in FoodWater-Energy Nexus interest in SE Asia Is the nexus present on the ground? Why has the nexus not gone native?
  24. 24. IV. Water Energy Food and Climate Security
  25. 25. The Turn Towards Non-Traditional Security • There is increasing consideration by states to non-traditional security, including food, water, energy, and climate security. • Climate change is becoming the driving force behind these debates and is seen as one of the major threats to: • Global security • National security • Human security • “Security anywhere depends on sustainable development everywhere’ Ban Ki-moon (Time Magazine, 2008)
  26. 26. • Different actors understand and frame sustainability and security differently …. • “[security] for whom, by whom and from whom, security of what and for what” (Brauch, 2011:62)
  27. 27. Water Security – “[Water Security is] the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments and economics” (Grey and Sadoff, 2007) – Water security to avoid “water wars” (state security) (Gleick, 1993) – Water security as competition over uses between competing sectoral demands – Water security as (right to) individual access to water (freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom to live with dignity) (Gutierrez, 1999)
  28. 28. Food Security • The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” • Food Sovereignty, coined by Via Campesina in 1996 “asserts the right of people to define their own food systems. Advocates of food sovereignty put the individuals who produce, distribute and consume food at the center of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the corporations and market institutions they believe have come to dominate the global food system”
  29. 29. Energy Security • “Energy Security: access to clean, reliable and affordable energy services for cooking and heating, lighting, communications and productive uses; uninterrupted physical availability of energy at a price which is affordable, while respecting environmental concerns” (Hoff, 2011) • Is “National energy security” the same as “energy for all”? – Energy to meet basic needs – Energy to ensure economic growth – [In other words, whose energy security is prioritized and at what costs to other securities?]
  30. 30. Sustainable Security • Preventive approach that focuses on interconnected and long-term drivers of insecurity: that include climate change, competition over resources, marginalisation of the majority world and global militarisation. – … early warning systems, threshold for natural resources, including planetary boundaries • Tends to see ecological change and transformation as threats and appeal to the idea of stability, to bring the ‘situation under control’
  31. 31. A more dynamic approach needed? • Security has historically been concerned with safety and certainty from contingency •the condition of being protected from or not exposed to danger. style of action respond control •This tends towards (intractable drivers ) (tractable drivers ) stability thinking shock • Do we need a more dynamic approach? •To also see security from the perspective of accepting the inevitability of change and of uncertainty associated with it? (transient disruption) temporality of change stress (enduring shift) STABILITY RESILIENCE SUSTAINABILITY DURABILITY ROBUSTNESS
  32. 32. The hydrological cycle is a dynamic system, and even more dynamic and uncertain under the conditions of climate change. Until now, influential state agencies responsible for water have tended to view water and ecosystems as relatively static systems that can be managed and controlled (protection against flooding and drought, water for food supply etc...)
  33. 33. V. Water Storage and Water (In)Security
  34. 34. Water Storage and Water (In)Security • Sean Cleary (World Economic Forum, 2009) highlights the vicious circle of energy, water and climate change. – ‘we need more energy for more development but the current processes of energy production put pressure on water availability which has an impact on climate; climate change variability affects water availability patterns and that, in turn, affects energy production’. – Similar pressures exist for food production • How can water best be stored that minimize risks due to long term climate variability and change?
  35. 35. Typology of Water Storage McCartney and Smakhtin (2010) “in any given situation, each type of storage has its own niche in terms of technical feasibility, socioeconomic sustainability and institutional requirements, as well as impact on public health and the environment” (p 4)
  36. 36. Storage solution options include… 1. Large dams: Collecting water where it concentrates / favoured by large water ministries (expertise, control, …); well known conflicts emerge 2. Rainwater harvesting: Collecting water where it falls / favoured by social activists egalitarian groups / equitable accessible, spread out wide / but not as efficient (limited in use / no energy angle, although less energy needed for pumping) 3. Groundwater storage: requires more energy for pumping (except mountain area from a spring) / widely available / depends on groundwater quality 4. Storage though wetlands / soil moisture: most environmentally friendly solution / benefits of water pollution
  37. 37. Plural Definition of the Water Problem Control - too many people is the problem: Solution is to manage it through rules and regulation. Bureaucratic Hierarchism Neruvian Market Individualism Scarcity Water Stress and Insecurity Abundance Depletion Free innovation is the solution to scarcity brought about by too much control and scare mongering. ReganoThatcherite Egalitarianism of Social Movements/Greens Profligacy is the problem: solution is to reign in our greed. Answer is: “Many 10% Solutions”!! Gandhian Adapted from Rayner and Malone (1998)
  38. 38. ‘Real’ versus ‘Imagined’ Himalayan Water Tower Monsoon rains fill the ‘water tower’ and create the buffer for the arid season that keeps rivers alive!! August spring Early monsoon July spring Foothill spring Blue water Green water Peak monsoon Foothill permanent spring Dry period water level Blue water DipakG based on MadhukarU “Ponds and Landslides ”
  39. 39. Storage pathways •Some suggest policy should emphasise more small water projects and protecting watersheds, especially given the socio-ecological benefits and ecosystem impact. (McCartney and Smakhtin 2010) •But, strategy for alternative storage options has largely been ad-hoc (in contrast to building large dams) •Systems that combine storage options that run complementary to each other are more likely to succeed than the large storage options alone (McCartney and Smakhtin 2010) – This seems similar to MK14 on alternative energy options and hydropower •But are all pathways considered equally, and are they viewed in a complimentary way?
  40. 40. VI. Our research questions and planned next steps
  41. 41. Storage as a “dynamic system” • Our project’s conceptual objectives are along two lines, with a focus on water storage and WEF security: – To understand how the different framing of preferred solutions (by whom) have • a) Shaped the policy process • and b) Determined outcomes; • This includes in terms of the presence or absence of narratives of water, energy and food security …. and the WEF nexus – To critically consider the role “security” has played and how it is understood by different actors – To contribute to the idea of dynamic systems by exploring options and combinations for water storage.
  42. 42. • We will compare a set of case studies from Nepal-India and Thailand-Laos - Some similarities (and therefore value in comparison): – Each share transboundary rivers – Increasingly tied together by jointly developed water resource development projects/ cross-border power trade (“batteries” frame) – Land versus non-land locked – Large versus small (size; economy) Other projects may be considered along the way
  43. 43. Our research questions: • Who is promoting the food-water-energy-climate nexus, how and why? – What have been the intended and unintended outcomes to date? • How is food, water, energy, and climate security both defined and operationalized within the nexus? – Is there a growing convergence (or divergence) between how these various securities are understood within the Nexus? • Which types of risk and uncertainties are formally recognized, which remain unrecognized? – How and why? • Is the nexus replacing or complementing IWRM? – What is new about nexus that did not exist in previous knowledge and approaches?
  44. 44. Our research questions include: • How are current pathways for water storage in Laos-Thailand and Nepal-India justified according to energy, climate and water security imperatives? – To what extent do different storage technologies addresses contradictions within the WEF nexus? (between sectors and users upstream/downstream; transboundary) – How are climate risks and uncertainties a) addressed and b) drivers for particular pathways? – How might a “pluralist” approach to the nexus ensure “dynamic sustainability” (resilience and durability) and social justice?
  45. 45. Thank you for listening We very much welcome your thoughts! Please consider submitting your abstract to the special issue of Water Alternatives ; ;