EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A review of the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address the challenges of the water-energy-food nexus (WEF Nexus) in the coming decades

Pedro N Carvalho1,2, David Finger3,4, Fabio Masi5, Giulia Cipolletta6, Hasan Volkan Oral7, Attila Tóth8, Martin Regelsberger9, and Alfonso Exposito10
Pedro N Carvalho et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark (
  • 2WATEC – Centre for Water Technology, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 3School of Technology, Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland (
  • 4Sustainability Institute and Forum (SIF), Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 5IRIDRA Srl, Firenze, Italy (
  • 6Department of Materials, Environmental Sciences and Urban Planning-SIMAU, Polytechnic University of Marche (UNIVPM), Ancona, Italy (
  • 7Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering (English), İstanbul Aydın University, İstanbul, Turkey (
  • 8Department of Landscape Architecture, Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Nitra, Slovakia (
  • 9Technisches Büro Regelsberger, Austria (
  • 10Department of Applied Economics, University of Malaga, Malaga, Spain (

The water, energy, and food security nexus (WEF Nexus) is the interlinkage between water security, energy security, and food security. An increasing world population is projected to increase energy and food requirements, which will increase the need for freshwater drastically in the coming decades. Projected climate change impacts will aggravate water availability, especially in urban areas. Nature-based solutions (NBS) have proven to generate multiple benefits that defuse the expected merging tensions within the WEF Nexus. This paper outlines the theories, provides examples, and discusses the potential of NBS to address the future WEF Nexus. For this purpose we reviewed recent papers on the theories of WE, WF, EF, and WEF Nexus, we described and summarized 19 representative real-life case studies, and we identified the knowledge gap within the theory and the case studies. We provide quantitative potentials and qualitative benefits for NBS described in the literature over the past decades. Our review demonstrated the impressive potential of NBS to address the projected challenges within the WEF Nexus. The study concludes by recommending NBS for specific WEF Nexus challenges and highlighting the need for decision-makers to consider the implementation of NBS in urban planings.

How to cite: Carvalho, P. N., Finger, D., Masi, F., Cipolletta, G., Oral, H. V., Tóth, A., Regelsberger, M., and Exposito, A.: A review of the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address the challenges of the water-energy-food nexus (WEF Nexus) in the coming decades, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9480,, 2021.


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