Image retrieved from AsiaSociety.org
Joining a Global Nexus Conversation
by Miles Ten Brinke
Miles, Peak Water columnist and avowed Hydrophilic energy-head, has found his way to Britain where he’s lost his California perma-tan and is studying an Energy Policy
This year Abu Dhabi made history, simultaneously hosting the 6th World Energy Future Summit and the inaugural International Water Summit from 15-17 January. The link between the two was explicit, bringing world leaders (in policy, in business, in government and in science) together to debate the conditions of the energy-water nexus and how we might build together a collective sustainable future. In starting this column I’ve had the privilege to join a growing movement, and its been really fascinating as I uncover the extent of that movement in my research. There are, as one would expect a myriad of different approaches being employed.
I was drawn to one particular perspective recently when a friend of mine send me a link to a Berkeley Blog post on the energy-water nexus. It’s by Dan Kammen, a Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley and one of the most brilliant voices on energy today (especially from a quantitative, science-focused approach). He attended the Abu Dhabi summits and then blogged about his experience, writing about the growing focus on and importance of the research on interconnections between different global challenges (such as climate change and biodiversity). Its a fundamental exercise, laying out precisely what it is we’re working towards. He goes on to champion the pursuit of each nexus, and pushing the boundaries of innovative ideas and solutions to these immense challenges. We need to shift the momentum, and to my mind that’s the vital role politics and policy will play. Even then it really comes down to philosophy- why we’re working towards a better world and what we intend it look like.
When you boil it down, we’re all working towards a few key aims. That is, pursuing a future world which is sustainable (in the classic tripod sense-economic, social and environmental), equitable and just, secure and stable. Whether we’re looking at food, climate, justice, poverty, water, energy and so many others the same key set of principles motivates us. More importantly, there are profound connections and implications between these areas-a multidimensional global nexus. In studying energy, and now energy and water, I’ve only seen the tiniest glimpse of the whole.
Most of us in the (if I can call it this) sustainability and justice community specialise in a particular area within our field, carving out a niche of expertise. We often seem to look at the same problems speaking hundreds of different technical languages, nearly intelligible even within the same sub-field. Its the world we live in, how most research (academic, public, private, commercial or otherwise) is conducted. That’s why these global conferences and any such endeavour are so valuable- even if each of us can only really master a small area, in having a holistic global conversation we can take strategic collective action.
You bring your little bit of the world, I’ll bring mine.
~ Miles on Water