The Water-Energy Nexus (WEN) is broadly defined as an integrated paradigm for efficiently managing water and energy resources. While several studies have investigated WEN from a resource efficiency perspective, little research has focused on governance and policy integration aspects. In this study, the level of understanding of WEN in Jordan is examined for the first time from the perspective of governance and public policy development. We explored institutional and policy integration gaps between the two sectors by mapping the water and energy policies in Jordan, and holding semi-structured interviews with the key policymakers and stakeholders. While the awareness of the nexus paradigm by officials is increasing, the level of knowledge about WEN varies across the sectors. As water and energy policies are formulated independently, there are no formal mechanisms for collaboration in the policy formulation and implementation processes, nor formal mechanisms for collaboration to guarantee policy effectiveness. Factors such as acknowledging shared understandings between different actors, setting flexible policy boundaries, and introducing specific capacity building plans at the institutional level are identified as critical to enable better WEN governance. Proposals from this study recommend adopting collaboration arrangements tailored to each sector’s needs and existing structures, and supported by effective enforcements to ensure an incremental and steady change toward inter-institutional coordination. A ‘multi-layer approach’ involving appropriate legal and policy frameworks, and adequate human and financial resources; essentially from private sector is suggested. Proposals from this study can help policymakers to effectively plan for joint water-energy investments for a more sustainable future.
The impact of desalination plant discharges on local marine environments is a concern but can be partially mitigated by good plant design to rapidly dilute released brine. For some water bodies with restricted connections to the ocean further concerns have been raised as to whether large-scale desalination risks raising salinity levels of the water body as a whole. Here we assess whether the maximum likely desalination growth by 2050 around the Rea Sea and Gulf of Aqaba could raise salinity levels in these restricted water bodies. The cumulative effect of desalination on salinity levels in the Red Sea will be insignificant compared to natural evaporation. The cumulative effect of desalination on salinity levels in the Gulf of Aqaba may be detectable but within the bounds of natural variability. Careful design and management of the desalination plant outfalls will still be required if the ecological impacts of large-scale desalination are to be manageable.
There is growing coordination and cooperation between the water and energy sectors in Jordan. However, a water-energy nexus approach is seen as a useful management tool by the water sector more than it is by the energy sector. Strong political leadership will be required for a far-reaching adoption of the nexus approach. Increasing policy connections between Jordan’s water and energy sectors will lead to improved technical decision-making but major resource allocation decisions at the national level remain inherently political, regardless of how government departments and authorities are structured. Adopting a water-energy nexus approach in Jordan increases the potential for transboundary nexus cooperation with Israel and Palestine to exploit the potential of solar electricity production in Jordan and desalinated water production in Israel. Transboundary nexus co-operation in the medium term is desirable and even likely, but only to the extent that a break down in cooperation would not threaten the security of either country. Security concerns mean that such cooperation is likely to be limited in scale initially but via a nexus approach could build overtime to form a minority of water or energy supplies, occurring in parallel to other water and energy supply augmentation schemes. The case study of Jordan shows that adopting a water-energy nexus approach can assist in ensuring water and energy management occurs more on the basis of technical and economic criteria, however, major water and energy decisions remain political in nature and thus politics will continue to exert significant influence.