EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

GoNEXUS-SEF: A novel participatory framework to co-design and evaluate water-energy-food-ecosystems nexus solutions

Adrián González-Rosell1,2, Maria Blanco1,2, and Imen Arfa1,2
Adrián González-Rosell et al.
  • 1Department of Agricultural Economics, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain (
  • 2CEIGRAM, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Currently, achieving food, energy and water security, and the conservation of ecosystems, are some of the main sustainability challenges. Traditionally, in these sectors, the policy measures and decisions have been taken separately, causing a lack of coordination and high trade-offs across sectors. Consequently, it is necessary to design policies or solutions capable of addressing cross-sectoral challenges. The water-energy-food-ecosystems nexus (WEFE nexus) approach analyses the impacts generated by socioeconomic activities on the production, consumption and management of water, energy and food resources, and the interrelationships with ecosystems. In this sense, the use of this approach can facilitate the identification of coherent solutions that promote the transition toward sustainability.  In this study, an evaluation framework for co-designing and evaluating nexus solutions (GoNEXUS SEF) to improve the governance of the WEFE nexus is presented. GoNEXUS SEF is a new methodological framework developed by the authors and has five main phases: (1) identify nexus solutions; (2) nexus dialogues; (3) model toolbox; (4) nexus evidence; and (5) nexus-coherence assessment. For its development, the ability to evaluate at different spatial scales and forecast at different temporal scales through data projections has been considered. GoNEXUS SEF is a participatory process that integrates qualitative and quantitative methods. On the one hand, we engage stakeholders and experts from the different nexus sectors to understand the cross-sectoral interlinkages, identify challenges, and co-design solutions. On the other hand, we apply system dynamics models (SDM), cross-impact analysis (CIA), and network theory to quantify the synergies and trade-offs.

The framework was applied to a practical case study, an increase in the irrigation water price in Andalusia – Spain for the horizon 2030. Case study results revealed that a water price change could generate synergies since it favours water security and ecosystem conservation. However, trade-offs are observed, mainly undermining the food sector in the region. The main difficulties in applying the framework are the integration of qualitative and quantitative information and the conciliation of the spatial and temporal scales across sectors. Beyond the results obtained, the evaluation of this case allowed us to examine the applicability, usefulness, and potential of the framework. GoNEXUS SEF has proven capable of evaluating nexus solutions; it highlights hidden properties and identifies leverage points and key aspects of complex cross-sectoral systems. In addition, it allows the evaluation and coordination of multiple policies at the same time; in that sense, it can help to achieve nexus-coherence policymaking. The framework can be adapted to fit different case studies, considering their own challenges and their spatial and temporal scales, which gives it a competitive advantage over other methodologies focused on analysing the nexus. Participatory approaches, that combine qualitative and quantitative methods, are adequate to identify and evaluate solutions that aim to improve nexus governance.

Acknowledgements:  This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the GoNEXUS project (grant agreement No 101003722). 

How to cite: González-Rosell, A., Blanco, M., and Arfa, I.: GoNEXUS-SEF: A novel participatory framework to co-design and evaluate water-energy-food-ecosystems nexus solutions, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16179,, 2023.