17 May 2017

Enhancing regional cooperation in the MENA through the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus

The Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is one of many contradictions and extremes in terms of natural resources, socioeconomic contexts, level of development and per capita income. The region, which is mostly rich in conventional energy resources such as oil and gas, is one of the most water scarce and food import dependent regions in the world. The richness and scarcity are not pervasive but come with large interregional variations.

Existing insecurities in water, energy and food in the region have been linked to some of the conflicts in the region acting as a threat multiplier as well as pressure points. One recent example is the devastating ongoing war in Syria which started as the result of complex interrelated sociopolitical and economic factors including, as well as challenges associated with climate variability and changes in the availability of freshwater. These insecurities are expected to be further intensified with the projected impacts of climate change, increase in population growth, economic growth, increase in urbanization rate and the ongoing security conflicts in the region.

This policy brief argues that many countries in the region could benefit from enhanced cooperation to deal with challenges in the WEF security nexus approach and provides recommendations.