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The WEFE nexus approach

International experiences and potential for the Hindu Kush Himalaya


MS Teams

Date & Time

11 August 2021

Opening session

WEFE Nexus in the Hindu Kush Himalaya: context, significance and opportunities

Quantifying the WEFE nexus

Nexus and transboundary cooperation: Conceptual framework and experience under the Water Convention

Implementing the WEFE Nexus and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Panel discussion_ application of Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem (WEFE) nexus approach

Group reflections _ WEFE nexus approach webinar


We’re collaborating with the Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA), OXFAM, and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention, in organising this webinar to increase understanding on the WEFE nexus framework, its methods and practices, its implementation in the HKH region and beyond, and its applicability in the HKH, particularly in a transboundary context. TROSA is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).



  • Share existing WEFE frameworks and approaches developed or adopted by different organisations in the HKH and beyond
  • Share experiences on the implementation of the WEFE nexus in different parts of the world and lessons drawn from those experiences
  • Discuss opportunities and challenges, and explore the potentials in implementing WEFE nexus in the HKH, including in a transboundary context



While the interlinkages among water, energy, and food have been acknowledged within the WEF nexus approach, more recently practitioners and researchers have highlighted the key role of ecosystems in this nexus due to their intermediary role among the water, energy, and food components and their strong linkages with each individual component. The water-energy-food-ecosystem (WEFE) nexus approach highlights potential synergies and identifies critical conflicts between components.

The WEFE nexus also includes the main drivers of climate change – water, energy, and food security, and the main affected sectors – water and environment. So, to mitigate climate change, the WEFE nexus approach needs to be mainstreamed into development policy and planning.

Challenges related to data, information, and knowledge gaps in the nexus interlinkages, and issues regarding the operationalisation of the nexus approach are particularly relevant to the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH). Furthermore, the ability to unpack the nexus has often been limited by the lack of systematic tools that efficiently improve on the opportunities from interlinkages between its components and regulates conflicting outcomes from the trade-offs between them.

UNECE Water Convention has also developed a six-step methodology for WEFE nexus assessment of a transboundary river basin. While an analytical framework investigating the impacts of the SDG targets with quantification of interlinkages of nexus pillars has been developed for the Mediterranean region, a similar framework is lacking for the HKH region. Challenges in governance of river basins at various scales have also been raised.

The webinar is targeted to:

  • Practitioners working on WEFE nexus implementation
  • Researchers working on WEFE nexus implementation issues and challenges
  • Representatives from government organisations working on river basin and landscape management and governance
  • Representatives of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations working on transboundary issues in the HKH



Key messages

On 11 August 2021, we organized a webinar on the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) nexus approach that brought together practitioners, researchers, and representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations to discuss the WEFE nexus framework, its implementations, and challenges. We present some of the key messages from the discussions.



Time (NPT) Programme Facilitators Rapporteur(s)
13:45–14:00 Registration Ashmita Shakya, River Basins and Cryosphere, ICIMOD
14:00–14:10 Opening session

  • Welcome remarks – Basanta Raj Shrestha, Director of Strategic Cooperation, ICIMOD
  • Objectives of the webinar – Arun Bhakta Shrestha, River Basins and
    Cryosphere, ICIMOD
Arun Shrestha, River Basins and Cryosphere, ICIMOD Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communication, ICIMOD
14:10–15:00 Experiences on the WEFE nexus (10 min each)

  • “Nexus and transboundary cooperation: Conceptual framework and experience under the Water Convention” – Lucia de Strasser, Environmental Affairs Officer, UNECE (Water Convention)
  • “WEFE Nexus in the Hindu Kush Himalaya: context, significance and opportunities”- Babar Khan and Sunita Chaudhary, Ecosystem Services,
  • “Quantifying the WEFE nexus”- Christian Siderius, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, London School of Economics
  • “Implementing the WEFE Nexus and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”- César Carmona-Moreno, Team Leader, Water Management in Developing Countries, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Question and answer session

Arun Shrestha, River Basins and Cryosphere, ICIMOD Chimi Seldon, Knowledge Management and Communication, ICIMOD
15:00-15:20 Panel discussion on application of WEFE Nexus approach

  • Golam Rasul, Chief Economist, ICIMOD
  • Dipak Gyawali, Academician, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology
  • Ludmilla Kiktenko, Manager of Environmental Management Programme, Regional
    Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC)
  • Mehjabeen Abidi Habib, Socio-ecological Resilience Scholar
Jyotiraj Patra, OXFAM Sharmila Dhungana, Knowledge Management and Communication, ICIMOD
15:20-16:00 Group work

Group 1: What are the frameworks, assessment methods, and mode of practice(s) applicable for the HKH?

Group 2: What are the challenges and possible solutions in implementing WEFE nexus in HKH?

Group 3: What are the potentials of WEFE nexus as a means for transboundary cooperation in HKH?


Babar Khan, Ecosystem Services, ICIMOD

Sunita Chaudhary, Ecosystem Services, ICIMOD

Jyotiraj Patra, Project Manager, TROSA/OXFAM

16:00-16:20 Reporting by group facilitators and way forward Arun Shrestha, River Basins and Cryosphere, ICIMOD



Lucia de Strasser

Lucia de Strasser

Environmental Affairs Officer

Lucia de Strasser leads work on cross-sectoral cooperation (nexus) at the Secretariat of the Water Convention. Previously, she was researcher at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Milan, where she focused on energy access and the energy transition in the Sub-Saharan African countries, and research at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, where she modelled integrated energy and water systems. She holds an MSc in energy and environmental engineering and a BSc in mechanical engineering.


babar khan

Babar Khan

Senior Ecosystem Management Specialist

Babar Khan has almost two decades of experience with leading international organizations such as FAO, IUCN, and WWF in natural resource management, participat area management, irrigation water management, sustainable fisheries, value chain development, environmental education, renewable energy and climate risk reduction, with a focus on science, practice & policy, in Pakistan and beyond. Before joining ICIMOD, he led the Sindh – Balochistan programme of WWF-Pakistan, focusing on species and ecosystems, protected area management, fisheries improvement, climate change, water management, alternate livelihoods for fishers, renewable energy and value chain development. Khan has a doctorate degree in Ecology from Chinese Academy of Sciences, China and a post-graduate degree in Agriculture from KP Agricultural University, Pakistan.


Sunita Chaudhary

Sunita Chaudhary

Ecosystem Services Specialist

As an Ecosystem Services Specialist, Sunita Chaudhary is responsible for research, policy inputs, capacity building and advocacy of evidence-based policy for conservation and sustainable development of Hindu Kush Himalaya. She is also an established forester with a decade of experience on natural resources management in Australia, Austria, Cambodia and the HKH region. Her research interests fall under conservation science and political ecology. She has a PhD from Macquarie University, Australia; MSc in Management of Protected Areas, Austria; and a graduate leadership program from the University of Hawaii, USA. She was also a visiting researcher at University of Cambridge, UK, and has been awarded several fellowships/grants including Nepal’s Bidhya Bhusan ‘B’. She has published more than two dozen articles in high impact factor journals and has several scholarly books to her credit.


Christian Siderius

Christian Siderius

Visiting Senior Research Fellow
London School of Economics

Christian Siderius is an adaptation and water resources expert, an independent consultant, and the founder of Uncharted Waters, a research cooperative and consultancy in Australia. He is also a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics, UK, and a Visiting Fellow at the Water Resources Management Group of Wageningen University, Netherlands. He has more than 15 years of experience in conducting research and providing consultancy on climate and water risks, and the WEFE nexus. He is especially interested in the value of water, and the link between climate variability, risk, resilience, and decision making. In his research, Siderius combines insights from pilot studies, big data and remote sensing, and the application of hydrological and bio-economic models.

César Carmona-Moreno

César Carmona-Moreno

Team Leader, Water Management in Developing Countries
Joint Research Centre, European Commission

César Carmona-Moreno coordinates water resources management activities in developing countries. He leads the European Commission’s WEFE-Africa project, where his team is directly involved in research on the WEFE nexus in Senegal, Niger, and the Zambezi and Nile. He is also the coordinator of the WEFE-Dialogues-Scientific component of the European Union (EU) WEFE-Dialogues programme. He is also a Senior Scientific Expert of the European Commission (EC) at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and was the coordinator of the Centres of Excellence networks on Water Science in Latin America (RALCEA) and Africa (AU-NEPAD Centres of Excellence). Carmona-Moreno also ensured coordination of scientific activities of the EUROCLIMA Project for the assessment of the impact of climate change on natural resources in Latin America. In 1993, he received the Nature award for the best publication of the year for his publication on SAR Interferometry. Carmona-Moreno has a PhD in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from the Institute National Polytechnique de Toulouse, France.



Golam Rasul

Golam Rasul

Chief Economist

Prior to his appointment as a Chief Economist, Golam Rasul served as the Theme Leader – Livelihoods and as a Policy Development Specialist and Head of the Economic Analysis Division at ICIMOD. For more than a decade, he worked in the Bangladesh Civil Service in different ministries where he was involved in the formulation and implementation of national policies, plans, and programmes. He has been actively engaged in research on agriculture, rural development, natural resource management, food security, poverty alleviation, regional cooperation, food, water, energy nexus and sustainable development in the HKH region. Rasul has contributed to more 150 papers, including 55 peer-reviewed journal articles, and his research findings have been part of many national and global policy papers and reports. He was also the coordinating lead author of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere. Rasul holds a PhD in regional and rural development planning from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand.


Dipak Gyawali

Nepal Academy of Science and Technology

Dipak Gywali is a hydroelectric power engineer, a political economist and an academician of the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. He is also the former Chair of Nepal Water Conservation Foundation and was Nepal’s Minister of Water Resources. Gyawali has been a member of several advisory boards including the Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre/Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Stockholm World Water Week, UN World Water Assessment Program, and the National Association of Community Electricity Users-Nepal. He also co-chaired Climate Action Network South Asia. Gyawali’s main research focus is on the interface between society and resources, mostly water and energy, which he examines from the perspectives of cultural theory.

Ludmilla Kiktenko

Ludmilla Kiktenko

Manager of Environmental Management Programme
Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC)

Ludmilla Kiktenko has been the manager of the EU Nexus dialogue project in Central Asia since 2016. Under her leadership, the WEF nexus approach has been integrated into two intergovernmental programmes – Fourth Aral Sea Basin Programme, and the Regional Environmental Programme for Sustainable Development in Central Asia. She has also been involved in the development of the Regional Nexus Steering Committee representing five Central Asian (CA) countries and uniting all WEF sectors, investment portfolio including eight WEF nexus-based investment ideas of regional importance, ongoing demonstration nexus projects covering the five CA countries and targeting new investments, and nexus games in Public Administrations Academies. Kiktenko has a background in Economics and Business Administration, including courses on economics of land degradation, integrated water resources management, basin management, development scenarios, negotiation, and facilitation skills. She has also been a member of institutional strategic development teams for over 20 years and is a professional in resource mobilisation.

Mehjabeen Abidi Habib

Mehjabeen Abidi Habib

Socio-ecological Resilience Scholar

Mehjabeen Abidi Habib is one Pakistan’s first PhD scholars in social ecology and resilience. Her research has been recognized and awarded internationally by the Resilience Alliance. She focuses on local communities who depend on natural resources and adapt to changing contexts without losing valued traditions, knowledge systems and social structures that allow for sustainable practices. She is also a consultant for Emerald Network, UK and also works with global organizations and governments such the Swedish Government, The Oak Foundation and the International Land Rights Commission. She has also authored the book, ‘Water in the Wilderness’, which is a deep study of people’s lives and their dependence on wetlands, rivers and lakes in Pakistan. She is also convener of the Pakistan Field Research Programme, in collaboration with the University of Oxford Centre for Environment, where she supervises Oxford graduate students who research Pakistan’s resilience problems. She has also worked with UN agencies, was the Chairperson of LEAD International, and has been a long-term ecology advisor to the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Pakistan.

Watch the panel discussion