Governance of the water-energy-food nexus: insights from four infrastructure projects in the Lower Mekong Basin

The social relations and biophysical flows that link water, food, and energy systems are said to form a ‘nexus’. Efforts to steer or otherwise exert influence on decisions that impact upon these nexus links, including to ignore them, take place at multiple levels, vary in complexity, and have implications for who benefits and who is burdened by those relations and flows. This paper examines how nexus links have been governed, using four medium- to large-scale water infrastructure projects in Laos and Thailand as probes into problematic issues of coordination, anticipation, inclusion, and attribution. Project documents, media reports, and published analyses were coded to extract information about nexus links, narratives, and decisions. Nexus interactions were summarized using a novel symbolic notation and then classified along a scale of increasing structural complexity as pairs, chains, and loops.

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Lebel, L., A. Haefner, C. Pahl-Wostl, and A. Baduri

Publication Date

22 January 2020

Publication Name

Sustainability Science


Water-energy-food nexus, Water governance, Hydropower, Irrigation, Southeast Asia