UNSW and Kings College London take collaboration online with Energy-Water-Food Nexus reading group

Carley Bartlett and Alice Bleby (UNSW Law) and Ayse Didem Sezgin (Kings College London) had hoped to meet for lunch at Kings College London (KCL) in May, before co-hosting a reading group session on the Energy-Water-Food Nexus. When the global pandemic put the kybosh on international travel, these three students decided to continue their international collaboration anyway, and hold a reading group session online.

On 23 June, over 20 participants from the UK and Australia joined the online discussion. The discussion was hosted as part of KCL’s climate change law and governance reading group, and the online format allowed participants on opposite sides of the globe to join the conversation, some with the morning summer sun in their home offices, and some with beer in hand as the early winter evening settled in.

The discussion was wide ranging, canvassing the application of the nexus in international environmental law, particularly international water law; the securitisation of sustainable development and nexus resources and implications for human communities and nature; framing the interconnectedness of and trade-offs between water, energy and food using the nexus; potential applications of nexus as a methodological tool to address interactions between water, energy and food and to help bridge the gap between theory and practice; normative contestations surrounding the nexus concept; and the importance of interdisciplinarity and cross-sector integration in environmental law and governance. Participants discussed the relevance of the nexus to their own research, and challenged the application of the concept as described by the recommended readings for the session.

Despite the quirks of hosting a group discussion online, the reading group session was a great success. Participants enjoyed the opportunity to exchange ideas with international colleagues, and Carley, Didem and Alice found their international collaboration (albeit conducted from their homes) to be rewarding. The group hopes this is the start of an ongoing and fruitful international dialogue, not to be held back by the challenging global circumstances of 2020.

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