Nexus Interview // Roger Cremades about the new publication “Ten principles to integrate the water-energy-land nexus with climate services for co-producing local and regional integrated assessments”
In this interview, the Nexus Resource Platform speaks to Roger Cremades, co-author of the new publication “Ten principles to integrate the water-energy-land nexus with climate services for co-producing local and regional integrated assessments.” Amongst other, he speaks about opportunities and challenges of the proposed ten principles in their application in practice.
Roger Cremades has a background in environmental science and economics. He now established himself as complex systems scholar. He is mostly interested in realistically integrating all economic sectors and their nexus across resources and to provide solutions for sustainability.
“For me 2+2 sometimes can sum more than 4, because the real world is a complex system full of synergies and feedback loops.”
Nexus Resource Platform: To whom is the paper mainly addressed?
Roger Cremades: The paper is addressed to the global change research community requiring methods and frameworks to expand their research agenda towards the multiplicity of societal goals and linked systems. Importantly, it is also addressed to nexus scholars! Are you clear on your definition of the nexus? Why do you not think of conceptualizing it in a transparent multi-layer way?
“Indeed, current nexus approaches lack a clear definition and a common framework for sustainability research, these are two important milestones we provided in the 10 principles paper.”
Overall, it makes a very strong suggestion to global change scholars, frankly we need to move on into complex systems approaches to be able to provide insights that can make a difference. Indeed, it is hilarious that young climate activists tweet about feedback loops while they are ignored in some crucial global change research domains, what does this mean, I leave to the public to judge.
Nexus Resource Platform: What was your main motivation when envisioning this paper?
Roger Cremades: We found that the climate services agenda had no framework to test cross-sectoral integration across resources, which could lead to diverse forms of maladaptation such as increased emissions as observed in my previous nexus work in China, and that the nexus could play a role on the cross-sectoral integration.
Nexus Resource Platform: When and where should the principles be applied? How do they help in practice?
Roger Cremades: The 10 principles are a versatile tool, helpful in any global change study. In practice they help with the multiple corners you need to consider for knowledge co-production with stakeholders on the top of nexus studies, and on how to deal with the cross-sectoral implications of for instance water use on the top of climate services. They will help you to understand whether you need the nexus approach, whether you could trigger unexpected feedbacks leading to maladaptation, and how best to capture the cross-sectoral links when necessary, inter alia.
Nexus Resource Platform: Are there examples, where the principles have already been applied?
Roger Cremades: The case studies in CLISWELN (a project originated from JPI Climate and funded by Horizon 2020 and several EU countries) go in this direction, and apply the principles to particular cases.
Nexus Resource Platform: What are the main challenges in applying these principles?
Roger Cremades: Data on the social and economic dynamics is hard to find for each case-study with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to capture all the involved patterns. Methods are also difficult to use, how to couple the micro behaviour of the involved stakeholders with the macro patterns of markets is a pending question, however we make several recommendations on how to deal with this methodological gap on economics.
Nexus Resource Platform: Can you briefly introduce the guiding questions included to compare nexus case studies under climate change?
Comparing nexus case studies can be difficult due to the variety of nexus features, feedback loops, and links across resource layers, so how do you compare them? We found that there are questions at the system meta level, that help you understand commonalities and differences across case studies.
Nexus Resource Platform: How do the authors wish to follow-up with the developed framework and principles?
Roger Cremades: Now it is time to work towards a multi-layer nexus approach rich in data, both in the natural and in the socio-economic and policy dimensions of global environmental change. Within the ethical grounds of data privacy, it is possible to do amazing things with virtual and face-to-face social networks, mobile sensors, and 4D virtual reality… just give me time to write more proposals (laugh).
Nexus Resource Platform: Thank you for taking time and answering our questions!