2. The Study Area
3. Climate Change Impacts on WEF Resources in the SADC Region
3.1. Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources
3.2. Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture
3.3. Climate Change Impacts on the Energy Sector
3.4. Implications for Nutrition, Human Health and Wellbeing
4. Climate Change Adaptation in the Context of the WEF Nexus
5. Integrating Water, Energy and Agricultural Sectors in Climate Change Plans
5.1. Current SADC WEF Nexus Initiatives
5.2. Strengthening WEF Nexus Related Institutions and Policies in Southern Africa
- The Regional Strategic Action Plan IV (RSAP IV) , based on the SADC Water Policy and Strategy, which advocates for equitable and sustainable utilisation of water for social and environmental justice, regional integration, and economic benefit for present and future generations. The RSAP IV emphasises infrastructure development and water resource management for food security in the water-food nexus, and an urgency to act in light of climate variability and change.
- The SADC protocol on shared watercourses  promotes co-operation for judicious, sustainable, and coordinated management, protection, and utilisation of shared watercourses, and advancement of SADC’s agenda on regional integration and poverty alleviation. Most shared river basins have basin level agreements in place, which oversee the management of the basins. Examples of shared river basin agreements include the Limpopo Watercourse Commission (LIMCOM), Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM), Orange-Senqu River Commission (ORASECOM), and Zambezi River Basin Commission (ZAMCOM).
- The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP)  highlights the development and updating of a regional electricity master plan, and the development and utilisation of electricity in an environmentally sound manner, whilst emphasising the need for universal access to affordable and quality services. The SAPP is guided by the Protocol on Energy and enhances regional co-operation in power development and trade, and to provide non-binding regional master plans to guide electricity generation and transmission infrastructure delivery.
- The SADC’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan (REEESAP 2016–2030)  envisions fostering a regional coherence towards developing renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and services by 2030. The SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE) is the regional institution mandated to implement the REEESAP, harmonise and coordinate efforts, act as a regional renewable energy and energy efficiency promotion agency and a knowledge hub.
- The SADC Regional Agricultural Policy (RAP)  envisions integrated approaches on water resources management, emphasising on improving agriculture performance to meet regional food and water security, as well as attaining sustainable economic development objectives at a regional level. The SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)  derived from the Africa-wide Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), aims to increase double irrigated area from 3.5 to 7% by 2025 .
- The WEF Nexus Action Plan  recognises the role of the nexus in adapting to the challenges posed by population growth and climate variability and change, as well as in optimising resource use to achieve regional goals and targets.
- The SADC secretariat produced a policy paper on climate change which emphasises a cross-sectoral approach to mitigate climate change impacts. The policy paper highlights two key aspects to the future SADC climate change programme; (a) to establish an implementation strategy and (b) to develop an action plan.
6. Recommendations Based on the WEF Nexus Approach
- Regional integration. Agro-ecological zones transcend political boundaries and sovereignty. The WEF nexus provides a meaningful platform for coordinated access, utilisation, and beneficiation of these resources and potential for effective synergies and trade-offs between the WEF nexus components at regional level [69,70]. The WEF nexus also provides an opportunity to harmonise existing institutions and policies and translate them into coordinated balanced strategies that can contribute towards inclusive development, socio-economic security, and regional integration.
- Sustainable economic development. The WEF nexus has become central to regional dialogues on economic development and subsequent monitoring of the SDGs. This is because the WEF nexus promotes the inseparable linkages between the use of resources to provide basic and universal rights to food, water, and energy security . Adoption of the WEF nexus in the SADC region is envisaged to benefit sustainable resource use that will promote sustainable and inclusive economic development, job creation, and improving the livelihoods of people. This recommendation is well aligned to SDGs 1, 2, and 7 on no poverty, zero hunger, and affordable and clean energy, respectively.
- Eradicate poverty and Improved human well-being. Owing to historical imbalances, most of the SADC’s population (~60%) is afflicted by poverty and reside in rural areas. They still lack access to clean and safe drinking water, sanitation, energy, and face chronic food insecurity due to reliance on rainfed agriculture. Consequently, much of the region’s policies have been driven by the need to improve human well-being through improved service delivery. Human well-being is at the core of the WEF nexus. The WEF nexus, through coordinated and shared resource utilisation, has potential to improve human livelihoods. For example, of the 2300 km3/annum of available renewable freshwater water resources, a meagre 44 km3 is abstracted and 14% is stored . The balance of this water, which could be captured and redistributed to drier parts, currently either flows to the ocean or evaporates, i.e., non-beneficial. Implementing a regional WEF nexus plan could unlock these water resources and benefit the drier southernmost countries of the SADC region. The WEF nexus could also assist in sustainably utilising the 50 million ha of irrigable land (currently only 7% is irrigated) as well as increasing energy generation through harnessing the hydropower potential (150 GW potential versus 12 GW actual)  through utilising the region’s underutilised dams. These projects, and others, have potential to improve water, energy and food security in the region thus, contributing to improved human well-being. The recommendation on poverty eradication and improved human well-being is aligned with SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 on no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy, respectively.
- Harmonisation of institutions and policies. A lot needs to be done to unlock the potential of the WEF nexus approach to effectively exploit the many interlinked development opportunities within the SADC region. It is only recently that the WEF nexus has found its place in regional policy formulation as most existing instruments were developed without adequate consideration for cross-sectoral synergies and trade-offs. The lack of vertical and horizontal linkages between sectoral institutions has created an imbalance and duplication among the sectors in terms of demand and supply. The cross-sectoral efforts have remained static, such as considering water for food or energy for food, disadvantaging other sectors. While the SADC’s RAP has contributed to an increase in food production in the region, it has resulted in huge pressure on water and energy resources and has weakened the sustainability of agriculture. The WEF nexus promotes an integrated approach to resource use, thus promoting cross-sectoral balance and inclusive development. Harmonising institutions and policies among the three sectors minimises cross-sectoral conflicts, maximises synergies, mitigates trade-offs, reduces implementation costs, and achieves policy objectives through a systems approach. Harmonised polices ensure systematic promotion of mutually reinforcing strategies and instruments and resolve policy conflicts in order to meet the competing demands for resources. For example, the RISDP provides an opportunity for joint planning and implementation of the WEF nexus to maximise synergies among the WEF sectors. This could lead to improved hydropower development and irrigation expansion in a more coordinated manner for sustainable development.
- Build resilience. Climate variability and change are threatening and providing a multiplier effect on existing challenges to the SADC’s development agenda. The region is a climate change hot spot; this is particularly disconcerting due to dependence on climate sensitive sectors of agriculture and energy. Already increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (droughts and floods) has retarded economic growth and set back regional targets. The WEF nexus approach provides opportunity for building regional resilience to climate change and mitigating vulnerabilities through coordinated WEF infrastructure development, improved management of transboundary natural resources, maximising on regional comparative advantages for agricultural production, and unlocking more resources for climate proofing through increased efficiencies. Overall, implementing the WEF nexus would promote sustainable development, and this particular recommendation on resilience building is aligned to SDG 13 on climate action.
- Promote investment in infrastructure development. The WEF nexus approach promotes investment in resource efficient technologies as well as innovative policies and institutional support to decouple intensive resource use from food production. Once effective strategies are in place, investment is attracted that would benefit the use of modern technologies that include production and use of renewable energy through hydropower, solar-powered water pumps for irrigation, generation of electricity from crop residues, production of biogas from manure, and introduction of trees or perennials on farms to produce wood for on-farm energy purposes among others. A regional WEF nexus approach would lead to infrastructure development in countries that currently lag. For example, while northern parts of SADC have abundant water resources, they face economic water scarcity due to lack of infrastructure for storage and distribution. A regional WEF nexus approach could lead to investment in dam construction, hydropower, and water distribution infrastructure in these states. For example, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project has boosted infrastructure development, provided employment, hydropower and revenue in Lesotho whilst addressing South Africa’s water scarcity. Similarly, WEF-driven innovative infrastructure has the potential to boost economic growth with new opportunities for SADC to increase its profile as a global production centre.
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