Sustainable development and the water-energy-food nexus: Legal challenges and emerging solutions

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Traditionally water, energy and food (WEF) resources are governed in many countries by separate sets of laws, rules and institutions. However, recent studies have increasingly underlined the WEF nexus approach as a framework for coherent, holistic and integrated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address fragmentations and ensure cleaner and efficient production methods in each sector. This article examines the legal and governance aspects of integrating and implementing the WEF nexus in practice. Various legal and institutional challenges that arise with a nexus approach, such as incompatibility of WEF nexus aims, limited rule linkages, institutional limitations and resource constraints are examined in order to identify the ways in which an integrative legal framework on WEF can help close these gaps. The study suggests that enhanced levels of legislation and rule linkage; elaboration of common and shared principles by institutional actors in WEF domains; as well knowledge, expertise and information sharing on WEF-related decision making are significant steps towards advancing systemic and integrated governance of WEF resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020



  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Multi-level governance
  • Sustainable development
  • Systemic integration
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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