The Global Politics of the Nexus
Who and What is Missing?

by Nicholas Hildyard

first published 27 November 2014

The UK-based Nexus Network aims to foster debate, research and collaborations across the areas of food, energy, water and the environment between academic researchers, and decision-makers in government, business and civil society.

Its inaugural annual conference in November 2014 explored “What works at the nexus? New connections in food, energy, water and environment” with 16 panel speakers.

In a panel session entitled ‘The global politics of the nexus?’ Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House highlighted connections in the nexus of food, energy, water and environment that were missing in this conference.  Imagining the responses of those actually affected by these connections, he drew attention to insecurities created by dominant concepts of food, energy and water security, and how people’s responses are increasingly categorised as security threats.

Risk sharing in a context of unequal power relations is a weird concept given that neoliberal policies have stripped away collective forms of risk management and dumped risks on poorer people. Risk as a commodity is now the largest traded commodity in the world. Speculation in risk markets – derivative markets – has led to price increases, denying people access to food, much as finance and other mechanisms deny them access to food, water and environment.

Other connections missing from the conference were privatisation; public-private partnerships; inequality; infrastructure as asset class and income stream; capital and its current crisis of accumulation; class and labour.

In sum, relationships of power need to be addressed if one is to address issues of food, water, energy and environment. The nexus that needs challenging is that of power, accumulation, extraction and conflict with the commons – the commons understood as the collective right of all to survival.

Watch the talk online and/or read it here.