Promoting the water, energy and food nexus approach and youth empowerment for sustainable development

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), with the support of the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) convened the 9 th SADC Multi-Stakeholder Water, Energy, Food (WEF) Nexus Dialogue from 26-27 March 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Capital on the Park Hotel.

The Government of the Republic of South Africa, through the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) hosted policymakers, researchers and academia, the private sector and civil society representing the 16 SADC states. The Dialogue, themed “Promoting the water, energy and food (WEF) nexus approach and youth empowerment for sustainable development” linked youth with the WEF Nexus, thus demonstrating how the WEF nexus is necessary for productivity, while paying dividends through youth participation.

The Dialogue therefore took forward the SADC industrialization agenda while focusing on infrastructure development, youth empowerment and sustainable development. Existing evidence associated with the complex linkages between the domains of water, energy and food production in the region necessitates the need for a suitable integrated approach to ensuring water, energy and food security.

During the Dialogue, the SADC framework for nexus governance and investments was introduced as a mechanism to strengthening institutional coordination and improving alignment of the WEF sectoral policy implementation in the SADC region. The SADC Strategy and Business Plan on Youth Participation and Empowerment for Sustainable Development 2015-2020 has a unique, cross-sectoral response to the many challenges and vulnerabilities facing youth, by putting young women and men at the very heart of addressing the root causes of these encounters.

The Dialogue addressed the development of a youth network for guiding the engagement of youth in coordinated structures and governance while simultaneously achieving water, food and energy security. As a cross-cutting intervention, youth engagement was explored by discussing potential innovative tools to apply job creation in the SADC region. Key to this, the Dialogue also discussed the challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how the region and youth could be prepared for the emerging digital, physical and biological technologies.

The Dialogue enabled participants to get increased awareness of the regional approach to integrated planning in the Water, Energy and Food Security sectors; increased understanding of youth involvement in driving WEF security; more knowledge on the strategies aimed at ensuring the role of youth in WEF security and understanding of the regional WEF nexus operational framework. Prior to the Dialogue, three workshops were held with the aim of contributing to regional socio-economic cooperation and integration. The Green Climate Fund Project Development Workshop for SADC-Hydrological Cycle Observing System (SADC -HYCOS) project, was held on the 22 March 2019. The SADC Water Division and Climate Services Centre (CSC), with assistance from Global Water Partnership (GWP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Green Climate Fund National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and other partners held the regional workshop to develop a roadmap for the SADC-HYCOS GCF proposal to enhance the Hydrological Cycle Observing System, Disaster Risk Reduction and climate information services in the region.

In line with the gender mainstreaming in the water sector capacity building programme, a clinic on Project Preparation and Financing was held on the 25th of March 2019. The Project Preparation and Financing Clinic marked the final workshop under the SADC Transboundary Water Management programme support to the Regional Strategic Action Plan IV. It built on the skills and knowledge acquired by the Gender Focal Points and gender machinery on Genderresponsive Budgeting, focusing on gender mainstreaming approaches for project preparation and mobilizing 2 finance activities toward improved project designs. The WEF Nexus Workshop for the SADC Member States was also held on the 25th March 2019.

The workshop established a common understanding on the WEF Nexus approach in the SADC region and presented the draft WEF Nexus Governance Framework, governance mechanisms and investment project screening/appraisal tool. After the Dialogue, the Water Resources Technical Committee Preparatory Meeting and Energy Senior Officials Meeting was held on the 28-29 March 2019.

Through the subsidiarity principle of SADC, Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA) has been mandated to facilitate with organizing the SADC Multi-Stakeholder Water Dialogues under the tag “Watering Development in SADC” on behalf of the SADC Secretariat Water Division since 2007. Regional cooperating partners in the water sector through the framework of the Water Strategy Reference Group (WSRG) contribute to the implementation of the Dialogue.

For the 2019 Dialogue, the base funding comes from the SADC Transboundary Water Programme implemented by GIZ and funded by the German and British governments, and the European Union (EU) supported SADC WEF Nexus Dialogue Project which builds up from the 2013 Dialogue on Nexus Approaches.