Water-Energy-Food-Environmental Nexus in Central Asia: From Transition to Transformation
Central Asian states are undergoing social-political-economic transitions since early 1990s including natural resources management systems. Energy-water-food linkages play a critical role for economic development and shared prosperity. These three resources are tightly interconnected, forming a resource and policy nexus. The regional political economies are still based on increasing resource abstraction instead of its reorientation toward efficiency improvements.
Weak enforcement capacities, power asymmetries, and competition for resources between sectors known as “egocentrism” are hampering the inter-sectoral coordination and governance on national level with more complications on international cross-border dimensions. The hydrocracies (water bureaucracies) are still hesitant to share decision-making power with other sectors over water resources management. New sources of water are increasingly expensive and limited in the region. Efforts to increase water, energy efficiencies at the local and national level are both limited and scattered.
National governments do not give the relevant priorities to the place of biodiversity and ecosystem services – key elements in water resources formation. The risks of delaying the transition toward sustainable development are considerable.
The Central Asian countries once practiced quasi-nexus approach during the Soviet period when commodities exchanged and water and energy development coexisted; would any lessons of the past be useful for the future? The paper examines feasibility of nexus approach on sustainable development within national boundaries and on transboundary levels.
KeywordsCentral Asia Energy Food IWRM Nexus approach Transformation Water
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), and no official endorsement should be inferred from it. The authors are grateful to anonymous reviewers of earlier drafts for constructive comments that helped to improve the paper.
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