event 03 May 2022

Research Article // Opening the black box of water-energy-food Nexus system in China: Prospects for sustainable consumption and security

By Zhongwen Xu and Liming Yao. This study developed a WEF Nexus conceptual framework to narrow down the internal and external relationship within an integrated analytic framework. In this way, the internal linkages and external socioeconomic shocks can be analyzed together. A spatial and temporal analysis of the contribution rates of each driving force in China are calculated to decompose changes in water withdrawal. The research highlights drivers of contributions dynamically from national and provincial perspectives, characteristics of WEF consumption variation regionally and sustainability by coupling socioeconomic development with resource saving.

1 s2 0 S1462901121002987 gr1 lrg

Fig. 1. Distribution ratios of resources supply across China.


Water-energy-food (WEF) Nexus system enables to examine the implications for sustainability. Inevitably, shocks from socioeconomic subsystems would impact the stability and reliability of the WEF Nexus system. This paper aims to identify the reasons for changes in water withdrawal, energy consumption, and crop consumption, and uncover differentiated effects from both the national and provincial perspectives, and finally offer the main strategies in China that balance socioeconomic development and resource-saving from the consumption perspective. Empirical results in China from 2011 to 2017 show that (1) the reduction of per capita energy consumption leads to a decrease in water withdrawal, while increased population and water withdrawal intensity in energy sectors have adverse effects on diminishing water withdrawal. (2) The decrease in energy consumption mainly results from improved energy use efficiency for the whole period. (3) Reduction in national crop consumption is mainly caused by the decline in energy consumption per person over the years, which implies a positive effect of food-energy Nexus effect on the decrease in crop consumption. (4) Spatially-temporarily contribution rates of drivers offer implications to the implementation of resource-saving and sustainability in the future. Directions and magnitudes of driving forces are different from the sub-nation perspective, hence, finally takes Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (BTH) region as an example, we analyze clearly the relative planning and reports and propose several pathways to accelerate the sustainable development in the BTH region.


January 2022


Environmental Science & Policy


Xu, Z., & Yao, L. (2022). Opening the black box of water-energy-food Nexus system in China: Prospects for sustainable consumption and security. Environmental Science & Policy, 127, 66-76.


Download the full article here.

Related Articles

Stay up to date!

We inform you about current projects, events, actions, publications and news!