event 31 Aug 2018 time 09:00

Session at RGS 2018 // Multi-Aspectual Evaluation: An Integrative Approach to Nexus Policies

The complexity of contemporary global challenges at the nexus of water, food and energy supplies calls not only for creative solutions but also for robust evaluation tools that can help refine, evaluate and improve these solutions. This talk will outline a multi-aspectual framework in which to perform such evaluations at constructive points in the policy cycle. The framework is based on the notion of distinct modalities of human relationships with the environment, as laid out in the tradition of reformational philosophy.

category Sessions, Panels and Side Events tag Governance tag Governance of the Nexus
Logo royal geographical society rgs ibg

These modalities provide axes of value that are mutually orthogonal and arguably allow a comprehensive analysis of the notion of the good. Starting from the framework’s roots in an ecological assessment tool, the talk will demonstrate how it is being developed through discussions with UK environmental policymakers into a tool for pluralistic, democratically-accountable policy-development and appraisal.


  • Richard Gunton (Sciteb Ltd / CECAN, UK)
  • Ian Christie (University of Surrey, UK)
  • Adam Hejnowicz (University of York, UK)
  • Sue E. Hartley (University of York, UK)

Chair: Kirsty Blackstock, James Hutton Institute, UK

About this Session

The concept of the food-energy-water-environment nexus has been in vogue since being identified as part of the ‘perfect storm’ of drivers on society by the UN in 2011. It has become a narrative to try to capture and explain the systemic nature of global wicked problems; and also to provide innovative solution to these wicked problems. For some, it is an invitation to grapple with the persistence of complex socio-ecological challenges and offer a site for transformation in our relationship to the material landscapes. For others, it remains a technical challenge to be resolved through optimisation of resource use in any given landscape. As social scientists, we are interested in how institutions, governance and management lie at the heart of either approach to the nexus in specific places and spaces.

The session "Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (1): Speed Talks" at the Annual Conference 2018 of the Royal Geographical Society involves contributions from those involved in Water-Energy-Food nexus research or those trying to manage or govern the nexus in practice, asking them to reflect on the following questions:

  • To what extent can the nexus be managed or governed?
  • To what extent does adopting a nexus perspective improve the governance of social-ecological systems?
  • Has the narrative of the nexus simulated innovative approaches or do the same fundamental governance and management challenges apply?
  • Are there new actors or sites for action emerging from taking a nexus lens?
  • Are new methodologies emerging from taking a nexus lens?
  • What can we learn from other governance and management domains; and what can nexus scholarship offer to others?

This session will consist of grouped speed talks followed by small group discussions with the presenters. The sister session Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (2) will involve a workshop based around a rapid synthesis of the main points.

Where and when

Part of Session "Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (1): Speed Talks"

31 Aug 2018

Glamorgan Building
Seminar Room -1.80

More information


Tina Schmiers


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