Submitted by guest blogger on Wed,06/12/2013

By Dr James Dalton, Coordinator, Global Initiatives, IUCN Water Programme.

I just came back from the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Congress in Kuching – the capital of the Malaysian State of Sarawak on Borneo. We wanted to see what progress had been made in the application of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) following its launch at the last IHA Congress two years ago. Sarawak has a reputation for controversy around its dams – and I was not disappointed.

James Dalton (right) at the International Hydropower Association (IHA) Congress The first thing to understand is that dams are controversial. They bring huge energy benefits supplying around 17% of global energy demand, but cause massive disruption to river systems, riparian habitats, and to those that live in the river basins. They provide carbon ‘free’ (although not entirely) energy – and the energy they produce is often promoted as inexpensive. During construction they can provide many jobs and lucrative contracts, and consequently they are often used for political gain, and as a show of national pride and power.

Hydropower dams in Sarawak are a little different though – but maybe they are the shape of things to come? The Sarawak Government has developed something called the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy – a growth corridor fuelled by up to 12 dams supplying energy for major industrial development in Sarawak. Setting aside the environmental impacts for now – who needs this amount of power? Sarawak already produces more energy than it needs – is the future going to see dams built to attract follow-on industrial investment – energy supply before the demand?

At the Congress the World Bank announced it was back with

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Submitted by Claire W on Wed,06/05/2013

By Claire Warmenbol of IUCN’s Global Water Programme.

Claire WarmenbolI will start this post with a confession. When I recently told my mother I was flying to Nairobi for a workshop on the Nexus Dialogue, I struggled to explain to her, in a jargon-free way, what this project is all about.

The truth was, the Nexus, amongst our many Water Programme projects, was still fuzzy to me. It all seemed so abstract, and frankly, not at all sexy. But it’s a crucial project, formally known as the Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions, which started early this year in partnership with the International Water Association (IWA) and with funding from the US State Department.

So part of my plan whilst coordinating communications during the Nexus’ first regional workshop (which took place 28-29 May, see web story), was to listen, ask questions and gather stories. Stories are always the key, not only to explain complex topics, but also to bring messages home, make something memorable.

Ok, so what is this Nexus? You may have picked up the term already in the press, environmental literature or at lectures and meetings. The Cambridge dictionary defines Nexus as ‘an important connection between the parts of a system or a group of things’. It further illustrates this definition with the example: ‘Times Square is the nexus of the New York Subway’. I thought that was quite apt, particularly since we had an infographic designed on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus using the model of a subway system (see my colleague Rebecca Welling’s blog post).

Discussions at the Nairobi Nexus meetingBut still, really, what is meant with the Nexus? In real

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