EGU24-18064, updated on 11 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Towards sustainable water-energy-food-ecosystems governance: an integrating participatory approach and systems modelling for co-exploring the nexus

Valentina Monico-Gonzalez, Desamparados Martinez-Domingo, and Eulalia Gomez-Martin
Valentina Monico-Gonzalez et al.
  • Universitat Politècnica de València, Research Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA), Spain

Global trends point to a growing challenge to meet the demand for water, energy, and food in the coming years, exacerbated by population growth, economic development, climate change, and environmental degradation. According to reports such as IPCC and EU Environment, this outlook threatens sustainability and equity in using natural resources. Despite the EU's environmental and energy policy efforts, such as the European Green Pact, the Water Framework Directive, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), challenges persist in water management and the its alignment of with food production and energy policies.
The UN 2030 Agenda addresses these challenges, recognizing the interdependence of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Highlighting the crucial role of water for population and ecosystems, SDG 6 and 15, which intertwines with others. Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires a thorough understanding of the interconnections between the SDGs and coherent water governance policies at different levels and sectors.

The WEFE NEXUS (Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems) concept has emerged as a promising tool to address these interdependencies and improve policy coordination. However, effectively translating this concept into effective governance practices remains a challenge. The complexity of the NEXUS requires multidisciplinary and holistic approaches, integrating quantitative and qualitative information at various spatio-temporal scales and institutional boundaries. Including stakeholders throughout the process enriches the diversity of perspectives and fosters the conscious and effective adoption of established measures by a significant portion of the population. The proactive participation of stakeholders not only enhances understanding of the interconnections between the SDGs and NEXUS governance but also contributes to creating more effective and sustainable governance practices. This inclusive approach is essential for achieving sustainable and resilient development that reflects the needs and concerns of the community at large.

This work seeks to develop a guide for implementing NEXUS governance practices and policies, co-created with stakeholders and end-users. The objectives include identifying previous challenges the watershed might face, causal relationships among variables, their polarity and weight (importance within the system) with causal loop diagrams, analyzing the influence of different stakeholder perspectives (assuring WEFE representativeness and avoiding power dynamics among them) on the effectiveness of adaptation measures, and assessing the integration of NEXUS into legislative frameworks such as the CAP. A combined literature review methodology, participatory processes, and system dynamics modeling will be used to achieve these objectives.
This study is being carried out in three case studies in Spain: the Júcar, Tagus and Segura River basins. The combination of interviews, group workshops, and participatory modeling activities highlight the active involvement of stakeholders in the co-creation of governance practices. Conceptual and quantitative system dynamics models have been developed, integrating hydrological, climatic, and socio-economic data.
This project will contribute to integrating local knowledge, promoting the co-production of knowledge and fostering more effective and sustainable governance practices. Proactive stakeholder participation will be vital to addressing the complexity of the NEXUS and achieving sustainable and resilient development.

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

How to cite: Monico-Gonzalez, V., Martinez-Domingo, D., and Gomez-Martin, E.: Towards sustainable water-energy-food-ecosystems governance: an integrating participatory approach and systems modelling for co-exploring the nexus, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-18064,, 2024.