Stakeholder Engagment at the Bonn2011 Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus Conference

The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus Conference took place between 16 – 18 of November, 2011 in Bonn, Germany. Around 500 delegates from governments, intergovernmental organisations, civil society and the private sector attended the conference. The objective was to bring together stakeholders from the water, energy and food sectors to develop an understanding of the interdependecies between these three securities and  discuss solutions, incentives and elements for an enabling environment to secure access to water, energy and food for the poorest sectors, efficiently use (scarce) resources and adequately value and protect the services provided by ecosystems. This position will be put forward in the Rio+20 process as part of the Green Economy discussions.

The preparatory process for the conference included an international multistakeholder engagement process.  Regional workshops were convened at the UN NGO/DPI Conference (Bonn, 3 September, 2011), the Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20 (Addis Ababa, 19 October, 2011) and the Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20 (Seoul, 20 October, 2011).  Moreover, a global online consultation in English and Spanish ran from 15 September to 15 October, and received over 400 responses. The consultation process collected feedback on the key issues a nexus approach should take into account, and the roles governments, civil society, the private sector and others should play in connecting the three securities.  The results of the consultations were put forward by stakeholder representatives during the conference, actively flagging issues policymakers will have to take into account if the Nexus approach is to ensure poverty alleviation, socioeconomic inclusion and environmental protection.

Civil Society Inputs to the Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus Conference

Some of the messages coming out from stakeholders were a strong consensus that decision-making around the three securities should integrate a Human Rights Based Approach. In this argument, a Rights Based Approach is more than a legal guarantee for access (which is important) but it is also a tool to focus upon the needs and expectations of the most marginalized sectors by guaranteeing transparency, meaningful participation and access to mechanisms for legal redress where rights have been violated.

Special mention was made of local communities and indigenous peoples, who often find themselves overlooked by policymakers; the imperative is both to involve such groups in decision-making around the Nexus and strengthen their capacity to participate fully and effectively.

Stakeholders also sought to emphasize the importance of governance for the successful implementation of a Nexus approach.  Governance failures and insufficient regulation of the private sector were linked to a variety of negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts. Corruption, food price speculation and unsustainable resource use were highlighted as particularly harmful factors.  Strong regulatory frameworks will be essential if the Nexus approach is to be realized meaningfully.

Emphasis was also placed upon the role of women, with gender raised as an important crosscutting issue for Nexus policies, programmes and institutions.  A Nexus approach should guarantee women equitable access to and control over land, energy and water resources, engage women in decision-making and leadership at all levels, and upscale women-led enterprises and productive activities.

Finally, the role of education and knowledge was highlighted.  Policymakers should acknowledge the role played by individual behaviour in determining the success of nexus policies, and exploit education as a tool for driving social reform by instilling progressive environmental values and strengthening participation and empowerment.  Making education a basic right is a precondition for sustainability.

The Nexus towards Rio+20 and Beyond

The next months will be important if the recommendations emerging from the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference are to be fully exploited,  requiring strong commitment from all sectors to ensure that fundamental changes to the current system are made. This will underpin an effective and inclusive transition to a sustainable development paradigm.

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**NGOs and other Major groups’ organisations that are NOT yet accredited to the United Nations and wish to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) will be offered a one time opportunity to become accredited to Rio+20. Click here to start the accreditation for new groups.The deadline for new accreditation is 20 February 2012. Once your registration is approved, your organization can preregister representatives until the general deadline of 20 May 2012.

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