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Editor's Note: The Nexus Narrative 

Issue #219 | 12 February 2014

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By: Lynn Wagner, Ph.D., Group Director, SDG Knowledge, IISD <>

During the more than twenty years that the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has been tracking and reporting the “real-time” story of sustainable development, we have seen the elaboration of a number of narratives in sustainable development policy making.

This issue of Linkages Update includes a number of stories related to the energy-water nexus, for example. The Zaragoza Conference on ‘Partnerships for improving water and energy access, efficiency and sustainability,' highlighted key messages including that "saving water is saving energy and vice versa." And the World Bank launched the 'Thirsty Energy' initiative, to address water and energy challenges, including growing competition for energy and water resources by an expanding global population, and increasing uncertainty caused by climate change.

Discussions during the recently concluded eighth meeting of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlighted the importance of recognizing the multidimensional nature of the issues under discussion. Such efforts, like the nexus approach, seek to recognize and design interventions to address intersecting issues. Previous efforts to address issues on the sustainable development agenda may not have intentionally overlooked interconnections, but the focus on inter-linked challenges is changing the narrative in recognition of, and as a way to address, the complexity that decision makers recognize in 2014.

Given the importance of identifying and understanding inter-linkages in sustainable development policy and practice, several posts in this issue of Linkages Update seek to help the reader find patterns in recent projects and interventions. Our Climate Finance Update and Water Finance Update review projects that were recently approved by international finance institutions on their respective topics, to give you an overview of the countries and issue areas that have recently received funding. The policy update on international wildlife crime reviews the information we have gathered over the past year on this increasingly visible topic, and highlights that, “though it remains to be seen how wildlife crime will evolve as a cross-sectoral policy issue, there is little doubt that it will continue to traverse biodiversity, trade, security and an array of development policy fora.”

We hope this issue of Linkages Update helps you to follow the nexus of issues you are working on, and to identify new, multidimensional options for addressing them.