IN THE NEWS: Review of "The water-food-energy nexus. Power, politics and Justice"

By François Molle [Water Alternatives, 2019]

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Although water-food-energy nexus thinking can hardly claim to be new wine, the growth of 'nexus literature' in the past ten years is remarkable. It has gained currency as a buzzword with the potential to convene water experts in global jamborees, to elicit books and special journal issues, and to challenge the long-established Integrated Water Resources Management concept as the new champion of integrative imperatives.

. . .

The book does a great job at showing how a water-energy-food nexus approach emphasises demand-led technological and market solutions, downplays supply-side limits, promotes a technical and supposedly apolitical treatment of trade-offs, and largely ignores the political dimensions that shape control over, and access to, resources. But even in its reductionist form of an optimising tool for cross-sectoral planning or business, the systemic complexity that the nexus seeks to address is baffling, and it is no wonder than in practice empirical work focuses on sub-nexuses using monetary metrics.

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Carl Middleton of CSDS is the co-author of this book.

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IN THE NEWS: "Flashing cash, China spearheads Mekong economic integration"

By Marwaan Macan-Markar [Nikkei Asian Review, 12 January 2018]

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang used a visit to Cambodia this week to strengthen China-led economic integration across mainland Southeast Asia. Li celebrated his embrace of multilateralism with an op-ed penned specially for a Cambodian newspaper, and basked in China's triumph with its five southerly neighbors, all of whom share the Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river. 

"Being located downstream, the lower Mekong countries have long struggled to negotiate with China on its dam construction upstream," said Carl Middleton, director of the Center for Social Development Studies, at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok. "A weakness of the current Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework's approach is that there appears to be little interest by China to develop specific written rules for trans-boundary water sharing."

Jinghong Hydropower Station in Yunnan province  (Source: AP)

Jinghong Hydropower Station in Yunnan province  (Source: AP)

China's determined push into mainland Southeast Asia lays bare the limits of existing Mekong initiatives supported by Japan, the U.S. and other Western nations, all of which focused on the five basin countries but shut out China. They pose little challenge to China, and are short on the verbal fireworks over another body of water in Southeast Asia -- the disputed South China Sea.

Read full article at: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Flashing-cash-China-spearheads-Mekong-economic-integration?page=1