IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Progress in characterising water-energy-food interdependencies

Declan Conway
Declan Conway
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (d.conway@lse.ac.uk)

Enhanced coordination is an important feature of the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus – an agenda that highlights the interdependencies between these sectors. But, while greater coordination is often promoted as a goal, particularly in relation to policy and planning, achieving it is far from easy. There are two complementary dimensions to understanding the WEF nexus; quantifying the physical links between sectors, and unravelling the management and governance structures involved. This paper profiles two different approaches to address the former dimension as a means to enable greater understanding of multi-sector interdependencies. One uses a multi-scale analysis of nexus linkages in the Gulf region to show how integrating new datasets can allow a more comprehensive analysis of WEF interdependencies, and in so doing highlight emerging areas of risk. The other illustrates how application of visualisation methods in a river basin can help present to stakeholders the complex trade-offs that exist across the WEF nexus and potentially contribute to decision-making. This study sought guidance on what stakeholders felt were important services that development in their river basin should achieve sustainably (performance indicators) and then simulated many thousands of combinations of options to identify which ones worked best across the different performance indicators using multi-objective optimisation. Respectively, these examples show how a nexus approach can reveal that a country’s food imports are associated with unsustainable agricultural practices and where the use of innovative modelling and visualisation techniques can provide opportunities to convey the complex outcomes of decisions, capturing alternative perspectives and values. So - while coordination is hard to achieve - new datasets and innovative methods of visualisation offer promise in addressing at least some of the barriers that confront progress in moving forward a nexus agenda.

How to cite: Conway, D.: Progress in characterising water-energy-food interdependencies, IAHS-AISH Scientific Assembly 2022, Montpellier, France, 29 May–3 Jun 2022, IAHS2022-360, https://doi.org/10.5194/iahs2022-360, 2022.