© Xu, He, Shen, Mulugeta Degefu, Yuan and Kong
Achieving sustainable development in the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus is gaining global attention. The coupling and coordination degrees are a way to measure sustainable development levels of a complex system. This study assessed the coupling and coordination degrees of the core WEF nexus and identified key factors that affect sustainable development. First, an index system for assessing coupling and coordination degrees of the core WEF nexus was built. Second, the development levels of three subsystems as well as the coupling and coordination degrees of the core WEF nexus in China were calculated. The results showed that from 2007 to 2016, the mean value of the coupling degree was 0.746 (range (0.01, 1)), which was a high level. This proved that the three resources were interdependent. Hence, it was necessary to study their relationship. However, the mean value of the coordination degree was 0.395 (range (0, 1)), which was a low level. This showed that the coordination development of the core WEF nexus in China was low. It is necessary to take some measures to improve the situation. According to the key factors that affect the development levels of water, energy, and food subsystems, the authors put forward some suggestions to improve the coordination development of the WEF system in China.