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Special Issue "Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Large Asian River Basins"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2015).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Marko Keskinen

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 02015 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability; resilience; multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity; science-policy-stakeholder interactions; scenarios
Guest Editor
Dr. Shokhrukh Jalilov

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 02015 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: water economics and policy; water, food and energy trade-offs; security issues
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Olli Varis

Water & Development Research Group, Aalto University, 00076 Espoo, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: security and sustainability linkages; water-energy-food nexus; water management; global resource issues; climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The connections between water, food and energy are currently being discussed more than ever before, thanks to the recently emerged concept of water-energy-food security nexus (e.g., Bonn 2011 Conference 2011; Hoff 2011; Waughray 2011; WEF 2011; Bazilian et al. 2011; Bach et al. 2012; European Union 2012; Granit et al. 2013; UNESCAP 2013; Allouche et al. 2014) [1–10]. Various organizations and authors have defined and addressed the concept from their own view points: nexus is, indeed in the air.

This Special Issue looks at the water-energy-food security nexus in the context of large Asian river basins, with a focus on transboundary rivers shared by several countries. The aim is to analyze what benefits the nexus approach could bring into these kinds of, often quite demanding, settings.

The thematic areas to be covered can thus include: water resources management; energy planning and policies with an emphasis on hydropower and biofuel production; and food production systems, including fisheries, irrigation and cropland management. Due to its focus on transboundary contexts, the special issue also emphasizes the geopolitical, international cooperation and security aspects related to the nexus.

The articles of the Special Issue may include case studies from relevant transboundary river basins, comparative analysis in several large Asian river basins, studies of institutional and policy mechanisms related to ‘nexus sectors’ as well as more theoretical discussions of the water-energy-food security nexus and its linkages to other framings and approaches, such as IWRM and sustainable development.

Dr. Marko Keskinen
Dr. Shokhrukh Jalilov
Prof. Dr. Olli Varis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


References:

  1. Allouche, J.; Middleton, C.; Gyawali, D. Water and the Nexus, Nexus Nirvana or Nexus Nullity? A Dynamic Approach to Security and Sustainability in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, STEPS Center. 2014. Available online: http://steps-centre.org/wp-content/uploads/Water-and-the-Nexus.pdf (accessed on 29 September 2014)
  2. Bach, H.; Bird, J.; Clausen, T.J.; Jensen, K.M.; Lange, R.B.; Taylor, R.; Viriyasakultorn, V.; Wolf, A. et al. Transboundary River Basin Management: Addressing Water, Energy and Food Security. Mekong River Commission MRC. 2012. Available online: http://www.mrcmekong.org/assets/Uploads/M2R-report-address-water-energy-food-security.pdf (accessed on 29 September 2014)
  3. Bazilian, M.; Rognerb, H.; Howellsc, M.; Hermannc, S.; Arentd, D.; Gielene, D.; Stedutof, P.; Muellerf, A.; Komorg, P.; Tolh, R.S.J.; et al. Considering the energy, water and food nexus: Towards an integrated modelling approach. Energy Policy 2011, 39, 7896–7906.
  4. Policy Recommendations. In proceedings of Bonn2011 Conference the Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus—Solutions for a Green Economy, Bonn, Germany, 16–18 November 2011.
  5. European Union. Confronting scarcity: Managing water, energy and land for inclusive and sustainable growth; European Report on Development 2012.
  6. Granit, J.; Fogde, M.; Hoff, H.; Joyce, J.; Karlberg, L.; Kuylenstierna, J.; Rosemarin, A. Unpacking the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Tools for Assessment and Cooperation along a Continuum. In Cooperation for a Water Wise World—Partnerships for Sustainable Development; Report Nr. 32; Stockholm International Water Institute: Stockholm, Sweden, 2013, pp. 45–50.
  7. Hoff, H. Understanding the Nexus; Background Paper for the Bonn2011 Conference: The Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus. Stockholm Environment Institute: Stockholm, Sweden, 2011.
  8. UNESCAP. The Status of the Water-Food-Energy Nexus in Asia and the Pacific; United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP): Bangkok, Thailand, 2013.
  9. Waughray, D., Ed. Water Security: The Water-Food-Energy Climate Nexus; The World Economic Forum Water Initiative, Island Press: Washington, DC, USA, 2011.
  10. World Economic Forum. Global Risks 2011, Sixth Edition: An Initiative of the Risk Response Network; World Economic Forum: Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland, 2011.

Keywords

  • water-energy-food security nexus
  • transboundary river basins
  • Asia
  • natural resources management
  • integrated approaches

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Large Asian River Basins
Water 2016, 8(10), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/w8100446
Received: 13 July 2016 / Revised: 24 August 2016 / Accepted: 29 August 2016 / Published: 12 October 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (190 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The water-energy-food nexus (“nexus”) is promoted as an approach to look at the linkages between water, energy and food. The articles of Water’s Special Issue “Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Large Asian River Basins” look at the applicability of the nexus approach in different [...] Read more.
The water-energy-food nexus (“nexus”) is promoted as an approach to look at the linkages between water, energy and food. The articles of Water’s Special Issue “Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Large Asian River Basins” look at the applicability of the nexus approach in different regions and rivers basins in Asia. The articles provide practical examples of the various roles and importance of water-energy-food linkages, but also discuss the theoretical aspects related to the nexus. While it is evident that any application of the nexus must be case-specific, some general lessons can be learnt as well. Firstly, there are a variety of interpretations for the nexus. These include three complementary perspectives that see nexus as an analytical approach, governance framework and emerging discourse. Secondly, nexus is—despite its name—a predominantly water-sector driven and water-centered concept. While this brings some benefits by, e.g., setting systemic boundaries, it is also the nexus’ biggest challenge: If the nexus is not able to ensure buy-in from food and energy sector actors, its added value will stay limited. Ultimately, however, what really matters is not the approach itself but the processes it helps to establish and outcomes it helps to create. Through its focus on water-energy-food linkages—rather than on those themes separately—the nexus is well positioned to help us to take a more systemic view on water, energy and food and, hence, to advance sustainable development. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Modeling the Hydropower–Food Nexus in Large River Basins: A Mekong Case Study
Water 2016, 8(10), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/w8100425
Received: 5 February 2016 / Revised: 15 September 2016 / Accepted: 20 September 2016 / Published: 28 September 2016
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (2068 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An increasing global population and growing wealth are raising demand for energy and food, impacting on the environment and people living in river basins. Sectoral decision-making may not optimize socio-economic benefits because of perverse impacts in other sectors for people and ecosystems. The [...] Read more.
An increasing global population and growing wealth are raising demand for energy and food, impacting on the environment and people living in river basins. Sectoral decision-making may not optimize socio-economic benefits because of perverse impacts in other sectors for people and ecosystems. The hydropower–food supply nexus in the Mekong River basins is assessed here in an influence model. This shows how altering one variable has consequent effects throughout the basin system. Options for strategic interventions to maximize benefits while minimizing negative impacts are identified that would enable national and sub-national policy makers to take more informed decisions across the hydropower, water and food supply sectors. This approach should be further tested to see if it may aid policy making in other large river systems around the world. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Water-Energy-Food Nexus and the Transboundary Context: Insights from Large Asian Rivers
Water 2016, 8(5), 193; https://doi.org/10.3390/w8050193
Received: 31 January 2016 / Revised: 20 April 2016 / Accepted: 26 April 2016 / Published: 10 May 2016
Cited by 29 | PDF Full-text (3653 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The water-energy-food nexus is a topical subject for research and practice, reflecting the importance of these sectors for humankind and the complexity and magnitude of the challenges they are facing. While the nexus as a concept is not yet mature or fully tested [...] Read more.
The water-energy-food nexus is a topical subject for research and practice, reflecting the importance of these sectors for humankind and the complexity and magnitude of the challenges they are facing. While the nexus as a concept is not yet mature or fully tested in practice, it has already encouraged a range of approaches in a variety of contexts. This article provides a set of definitions recognizing three perspectives that see the nexus as an analytical tool, governance framework and as an emerging discourse. It discusses the implications that an international transboundary context brings to the nexus and vice versa. Based on a comparative analysis of three Asian regions—Central Asia, South Asia and the Mekong Region—and their related transboundary river basins, we propose that the transboundary context has three major implications: diversity of scales and perspectives, importance of state actors and importance of politics. Similarly, introducing the nexus as an approach in a transboundary context has a potential to provide new resources and approaches, alter existing actor dynamics and portray a richer picture of relationships. Overall, the significance of water-energy-food linkages and their direct impacts on water allocation mean that the nexus has the potential to complement existing approaches also in the transboundary river basins. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Methodology to Assess the Water Energy Food Ecosystems Nexus in Transboundary River Basins
Water 2016, 8(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/w8020059
Received: 6 October 2015 / Accepted: 11 January 2016 / Published: 16 February 2016
Cited by 35 | PDF Full-text (998 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The “nexus” is a potentially very appropriate approach to enhance resource efficiency and good governance in transboundary basins. Until now, however, evidence has been confined to isolated case studies and the nexus approach remains largely undefined. The methodology presented in this paper, developed [...] Read more.
The “nexus” is a potentially very appropriate approach to enhance resource efficiency and good governance in transboundary basins. Until now, however, evidence has been confined to isolated case studies and the nexus approach remains largely undefined. The methodology presented in this paper, developed for preparing a series of nexus assessments of selected river basins under the Water Convention of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), is a timely contribution to this ongoing debate. The nexus assessment of a transboundary basin has the objective of identifying trade-offs and impacts across sectors and countries and to propose possible policy measures and technical actions at national and transboundary levels to reduce intersectoral tensions. This is done jointly with policy makers and local experts. Compared to an Integrated Water Resource Management approach, the water energy food ecosystems nexus approach concurrently considers multiple sectors and their evolution. This offers the opportunity to better involve key economic sectors—energy and agriculture in particular—in the dialogue over transboundary water resource uses, protection and management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Chinese State-Owned Enterprise Investment in Mekong Hydropower: Political and Economic Drivers and Their Implications across the Water, Energy, Food Nexus
Water 2015, 7(11), 6269-6284; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7116269
Received: 18 May 2015 / Revised: 22 October 2015 / Accepted: 26 October 2015 / Published: 6 November 2015
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (366 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over the last decade, Chinese State-Owned Enterprises have emerged as among the most active investors in Mekong Basin hydropower development. This paper uses a political economy analysis to examine the forces that drive Chinese State-Owned Enterprises to invest in hydropower in the Mekong [...] Read more.
Over the last decade, Chinese State-Owned Enterprises have emerged as among the most active investors in Mekong Basin hydropower development. This paper uses a political economy analysis to examine the forces that drive Chinese State-Owned Enterprises to invest in hydropower in the Mekong Basin. We focus our analysis on the Lancang (Upper Mekong River) in China and in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), with an emphasis on Cambodia. The analysis reveals how powerful political and economic forces from within China and the GMS influence the pace, location and scale of investments in hydropower. These forces include foreign exchange reserves, trade packages and foreign direct investment, and political alliances. Combining the political economy and nexus approaches, we conclude that although policies from China recognize interconnections across the nexus, political and economic forces craft narratives that downplay or disregard these nexus interconnections and trade-offs. This in turn, influences how trade-offs and interconnections in hydropower development are managed and recognized in both local and transboundary contexts, thereby, creating potentially significant negative impacts on livelihoods, food security and the environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Methods of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus
Water 2015, 7(10), 5806-5830; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7105806
Received: 29 May 2015 / Revised: 12 October 2015 / Accepted: 16 October 2015 / Published: 23 October 2015
Cited by 55 | PDF Full-text (2146 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper focuses on a collection of methods that can be used to analyze the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus. We classify these methods as qualitative or quantitative for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research approaches. The methods for interdisciplinary research approaches can be used to unify [...] Read more.
This paper focuses on a collection of methods that can be used to analyze the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus. We classify these methods as qualitative or quantitative for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research approaches. The methods for interdisciplinary research approaches can be used to unify a collection of related variables, visualize the research problem, evaluate the issue, and simulate the system of interest. Qualitative methods are generally used to describe the nexus in the region of interest, and include primary research methods such as Questionnaire Surveys, as well as secondary research methods such as Ontology Engineering and Integrated Maps. Quantitative methods for examining the nexus include Physical Models, Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA), Integrated Indices, and Optimization Management Models. The authors discuss each of these methods in the following sections, along with accompanying case studies from research sites in Japan and the Philippines. Although the case studies are specific to two regions, these methods could be applicable to other areas, with appropriate calibration. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Water-Energy-Food Nexus in a Transboundary River Basin: The Case of Tonle Sap Lake, Mekong River Basin
Water 2015, 7(10), 5416-5436; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7105416
Received: 1 June 2015 / Revised: 27 August 2015 / Accepted: 31 August 2015 / Published: 12 October 2015
Cited by 20 | PDF Full-text (1012 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The water-energy-food nexus is promoted as a new approach for research and policy-making. But what does the nexus mean in practice and what kinds of benefits does it bring? In this article we share our experiences with using a nexus approach in Cambodia’s [...] Read more.
The water-energy-food nexus is promoted as a new approach for research and policy-making. But what does the nexus mean in practice and what kinds of benefits does it bring? In this article we share our experiences with using a nexus approach in Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake area. We conclude that water, energy and food security are very closely linked, both in the Tonle Sap and in the transboundary Mekong River Basin generally. The current drive for large-scale hydropower threatens water and food security at both local and national scales. Hence, the nexus provides a relevant starting point for promoting sustainable development in the Mekong. We also identify and discuss two parallel dimensions for the nexus, with one focusing on research and analysis and the other on integrated planning and cross-sectoral collaboration. In our study, the nexus approach was particularly useful in facilitating collaboration and stakeholder engagement. This was because the nexus approach clearly defines the main themes included in the process, and at the same time widens the discussion from mere water resource management into the broader aspects of water, energy and food security. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Water-Energy-Food Nexus within the Framework of International Water Law
Water 2015, 7(10), 5396-5415; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7105396
Received: 31 May 2015 / Revised: 8 September 2015 / Accepted: 11 September 2015 / Published: 12 October 2015
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (228 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
International water law, which regulates the uses of international watercourses that are situated partly in different States, is a highly topical sector of law. In 2014, two conventions covering the subject matter entered into force globally. At the same time, a water-food-energy nexus [...] Read more.
International water law, which regulates the uses of international watercourses that are situated partly in different States, is a highly topical sector of law. In 2014, two conventions covering the subject matter entered into force globally. At the same time, a water-food-energy nexus has become part and parcel of the development canon that emphasises the importance of the complex relationship between water, energy and food. In this article, it is discussed whether international water law supports the water-food-energy nexus approach, which aims to reconcile the different water uses in international basins. The analysis also covers the human rights to water and food from the nexus viewpoint. The legal regime of the Mekong River is used as an example of the possibilities and challenges of the nexus approach in international water law. It is concluded that despite its deficiencies international water law provides a very useful platform for the cooperation between States and different sectors that aim at guaranteeing water, food and energy security. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Sharing Benefits in Transboundary Rivers: An Experimental Case Study of Central Asian Water-Energy-Agriculture Nexus
Water 2015, 7(9), 4778-4805; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7094778
Received: 17 June 2015 / Revised: 24 August 2015 / Accepted: 27 August 2015 / Published: 2 September 2015
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (1724 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cooperation in transboundary river basins is challenged by the riparian countries’ differing needs for water use. This is the case especially in Amu Darya Basin in Central Asia, where upstream Tajikistan is building the Rogun Hydropower Plant (RHP) to increase its energy security, [...] Read more.
Cooperation in transboundary river basins is challenged by the riparian countries’ differing needs for water use. This is the case especially in Amu Darya Basin in Central Asia, where upstream Tajikistan is building the Rogun Hydropower Plant (RHP) to increase its energy security, while the downstream countries oppose the plant due to the feared negative impacts to their irrigated agriculture. Several experimental scenarios illustrate how the concept of benefit sharing could be used as a framework to investigate these water-energy-agriculture linkages in a transboundary context. Using a hydro-economic model, we investigate the economic benefits of various scenarios emphasizing agricultural and/or energy production, thus benefiting the riparian countries uniquely. Subsequently, we discuss how benefit-sharing arrangements with different forms of compensations could be used as a mechanism to facilitate transboundary cooperation. Our results indicate that several scenarios have a potential to increase the total energy-agriculture benefits in the basin. Yet, agreeing on the actual benefit-sharing mechanism between the countries poses special challenges as each may require countries to give up some of their anticipated maximum potential benefits. The presented scenarios provide a potential starting point for debates over benefit-sharing arrangements across countries needing to address the water-energy-agriculture nexus. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Water Security in the Syr Darya Basin
Water 2015, 7(9), 4657-4684; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7094657
Received: 13 May 2015 / Accepted: 19 August 2015 / Published: 27 August 2015
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (2987 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The importance of water security has gained prominence on the international water agenda, but the focus seems to be directed towards water demand. An essential element of water security is the functioning of public organizations responsible for water supply through direct and indirect [...] Read more.
The importance of water security has gained prominence on the international water agenda, but the focus seems to be directed towards water demand. An essential element of water security is the functioning of public organizations responsible for water supply through direct and indirect security approaches. Despite this, there has been a tendency to overlook the water security strategies of these organizations as well as constraints on their operation. This paper discusses the critical role of water supply in achieving sustainable water security and presents two case studies from Central Asia on the management of water supply for irrigated agriculture. The analysis concludes that existing water supply bureaucracies need to be revitalized to effectively address key challenges in water security. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transferable Principles for Managing the Nexus: Lessons from Historical Global Water Modelling of Central Asia
Water 2015, 7(8), 4200-4231; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7084200
Received: 26 May 2015 / Revised: 20 July 2015 / Accepted: 24 July 2015 / Published: 31 July 2015
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (954 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The complex relationships within the water-energy-food security nexus tend to be place-specific, increasing the importance of identifying transferable principles to facilitate implementation of a nexus approach. This paper aims to contribute transferable principles by using global model data and concepts to illustrate and [...] Read more.
The complex relationships within the water-energy-food security nexus tend to be place-specific, increasing the importance of identifying transferable principles to facilitate implementation of a nexus approach. This paper aims to contribute transferable principles by using global model data and concepts to illustrate and analyze the water history of Central Asia. This approach builds on extensive literature about Central Asia and global change as well as recent advances in global water modeling. Decadal water availability and sectorial water consumption time series are presented for the whole 20th century, along with monthly changes in discharge attributable to human influences. Concepts from resilience and socio-ecological system theory are used to interpret the results and identify five principles relevant to managing the transboundary nexus: (1) the subsystems included/excluded from the nexus are case-specific and should be consciously scrutinized; (2) consensus is needed on what boundaries can acceptably be crossed within the nexus; (3) there is a need to understand how reducing trade-offs will modify system dependencies; (4) global stakeholders have both a responsibility and right to contribute to the shaping of the nexus; (5) combining data with global and local perspectives can help to enhance transferability and understanding of shared problems in our globalized world. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Costs of Benefit Sharing: Historical and Institutional Analysis of Shared Water Development in the Ferghana Valley, the Syr Darya Basin
Water 2015, 7(6), 2728-2752; https://doi.org/10.3390/w7062728
Received: 9 December 2014 / Revised: 19 May 2015 / Accepted: 26 May 2015 / Published: 9 June 2015
Cited by 19 | PDF Full-text (1625 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Ongoing discussions on water-energy-food nexus generally lack a historical perspective and more rigorous institutional analysis. Scrutinizing a relatively mature benefit sharing approach in the context of transboundary water management, the study shows how such analysis can be implemented to facilitate understanding in an [...] Read more.
Ongoing discussions on water-energy-food nexus generally lack a historical perspective and more rigorous institutional analysis. Scrutinizing a relatively mature benefit sharing approach in the context of transboundary water management, the study shows how such analysis can be implemented to facilitate understanding in an environment of high institutional and resource complexity. Similar to system perspective within nexus, benefit sharing is viewed as a positive sum approach capable of facilitating cooperation among riparian parties by shifting the focus from the quantities of water to benefits derivable from its use and allocation. While shared benefits from use and allocation are logical corollary of the most fundamental principles of international water law, there are still many controversies as to the conditions under which benefit sharing could serve best as an approach. Recently, the approach has been receiving wider attention in the literature and is increasingly applied in various basins to enhance negotiations. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the costs associated with benefit sharing, particularly in the long run. The study provides a number of concerns that have been likely overlooked in the literature and examines the approach in the case of the Ferghana Valley shared by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan utilizing data for the period from 1917 to 2013. Institutional analysis traces back the origins of property rights of the transboundary infrastructure, shows cooperative activities and fierce negotiations on various governance levels. The research discusses implications of the findings for the nexus debate and unveils at least four types of costs associated with benefit sharing: (1) Costs related to equity of sharing (horizontal and vertical); (2) Costs to the environment; (3) Transaction costs and risks of losing water control; and (4) Costs as a result of likely misuse of issue linkages. Full article
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