Water-energy-land nexus

The Energy Program (ENE) is leading the design of a new cross-cutting partnership to explore the environmental and development challenges related to the sustainable management of water, energy, and land. Under the partnership existing and new tools developed by multiple IIASA programs will be integrated into an assessment framework.

© Markuso53 | Dreamstime

© Markuso53 | Dreamstime

The ENE Program has been central to the development and design of the joint Global Environment Facility-IIASA-UN Industrial Development Organization partnership, entitled Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy, and Land (IS-WEL). This project will focus on the water‐energy‐land nexus in the context of other major global challenges such as urbanization, environmental pressure, and equitable and sustainable futures. It will develop a consistent framework for looking at the nexus and identify strategies and approaches for achieving the needed transformational outcomes through an advanced assessment framework. The water‐energy‐land nexus is characterized both through trade‐offs as well as multiple co‐benefits across distinct policy objectives. The latter will support the Global Environment Facility in addressing a range of drivers of environmental degradation in a cost‐effective manner through integrated project and solution planning.

An initial scoping study was completed in 2015 that identifies the critical importance of assessing and managing water, energy, and land resources using cross‐sectorial approaches and integrated assessment tools. IIASA reviewed the current nexus assessments with an emphasis on those that address impacts and vulnerability as well as response strategies to human welfare and environmental degradation. The limitations and gaps associated with existing assessments were identified and opportunities for improving future assessments were proposed. The study concluded with a review of related ongoing initiatives in order to better clarify potential synergies and the most appropriate niche for the IS‐WEL partnership.

IIASA also hosted a roundtable discussion on the content and role of the IS-WEL project. The discussion provided crucial feedback and direction from a distinguished panel of external advisors.

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Last edited: 13 May 2016

Research program

Cross program contribution

Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy, and Land

Further information



International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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