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The global governance of water, energy, and food nexus: allocation and access for competing demands


  • Pritee Sharma

    (Indian Institute of Technology Indore)

  • Salla Nithyanth Kumar

    (Indian Institute of Technology Indore)


Globally, 3 billion people are without access to modern fuels or technologies for cooking/heating, 900 million people lack access to safe water, 2.6 billion lack improved sanitation, 2 billion people lack food security intermittently, and more than 820 million people are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty. This paper on the allocation of and access to water, energy and food (WEF) nexus rests on the ‘Rawlsian’ conception of distributive justice to human security and the competing demands for WEF. Based on a review of papers on access and allocation published from 2008 through 2020, this paper finds that ‘policy coordination’ among all the actors (at all levels in general and local levels in particular) governing the water–energy–food nexus is the key to promoting equitable allocation of and access to WEF. Only legitimate governance with robust legal structures in place can provide for the equitable allocation in the WEF nexus. Effective stakeholder participation in governance of the nexus is necessary and ensured when power asymmetries, interdependencies and rights are accounted for in principles of procedural justice. Moreover, to ensure access to people in the WEF nexus, the distribution of the three goods and related rights must be delivered as a ‘triplet’. This will promote the goal to mitigate trade-offs and promote synergies among the resources as well as conserve the environment within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Pritee Sharma & Salla Nithyanth Kumar, 2020. "The global governance of water, energy, and food nexus: allocation and access for competing demands," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 377-391, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ieaple:v:20:y:2020:i:2:d:10.1007_s10784-020-09488-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10784-020-09488-2

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