event 20 Nov 2020

Publication // Nexus planning as a pathway towards sustainable environmental and human health post Covid-19

By Luxon Nhamo and Bekithemba Ndlela. This study highlights the vulnerabilities Covid-19 has exposed in linear systems in water, energy and food sectors and how a Nexus approach is necessary for the formulation of coherent strategies towards resilience against novel pathogens. Cross-sectoral Nexus approaches are thus integral to improved livelihoods and sustainable human health.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of linear and monocentric approaches in addressing today's complex, cross-cutting, and interconnected challenges. Experiences from the Covid-19 have shown that focusing on one sector during a crisis only aggravates the stresses in other sectors as decision-makers often view the world from a linear perspective, with the thought that a click of a button would get the economy and society back on track. This study argues that linearity forgets the interconnectedness of systems and how their systemic properties shape their interactions, interdependencies, and interrelationships, whereas nexus planning integrates and simplifies socio-ecological systems, indicates priority areas for intervention, and reduces risk and vulnerability. The lockdowns implemented during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in job losses, company closures, and economic recessions, demonstrating that linear approaches often over-emphasise on a limited set of attributes of a system, notably efficiency, at the expense of other aspects. While linear approaches have been beneficial to some extent for long, the Covid-19 pandemic exposed how they transfer stresses to other sectors, and compromise resilience-building initiatives, allowing failure to cascade from one sector to the other. Nexus planning emphasises on cross-sectoral sustainability and enhances socio-economic resilience against future shocks.


  • Nexus planning provides pathways for sustainable and healthy natural environments.
  • Current challenges facing humankind are non-linear and they require transformative approaches to inform policy.
  • Nexus planning guides the formulation of coherent strategies towards the resilience against novel pathogens.
  • Transformative approaches provide pathways towards improved livelihoods and sustainable human health.


October 2020


Science Direct, Environmental Research


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