The water-energy-food nexus ("nexus") is promoted as an approach to look at the linkages between water, energy and food. The articles of Water's Special Issue "Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Large Asian River Basins" look at the applicability of the nexus approach in different regions and rivers basins in Asia. The articles provide practical examples of the various roles and importance of water-energy-food linkages, but also discuss the theoretical aspects related to the nexus. While it is evident that any application of the nexus must be case-specific, some general lessons can be learnt as well. Firstly, there are a variety of interpretations for the nexus. These include three complementary perspectives that see nexus as an analytical approach, governance framework and emerging discourse. Secondly, nexus is-despite its name-a predominantly water-sector driven and water-centered concept. While this brings some benefits by, e.g., setting systemic boundaries, it is also the nexus' biggest challenge: If the nexus is not able to ensure buy-in from food and energy sector actors, its added value will stay limited. Ultimately, however, what really matters is not the approach itself but the processes it helps to establish and outcomes it helps to create. Through its focus on water-energy-food linkages-rather than on those themes separately-the nexus is well positioned to help us to take a more systemic view on water, energy and food and, hence, to advance sustainable development.