Urban Nexus

Project // The Urban Nexus of the Environmental Flows of Water, Energy and Food

This research project by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) seeks to contribute to theorize the Urban Nexus and to make it analyzable to help reduce its complexity and obscurity to policy-planners, producers and consumers.

Cities are becoming increasingly more populated and rapid urbanization is taking place all around the world. This requires larger supplies of input and output resources to sustain human and urban needs. Water, Energy and Food (WEF) have long been acknowledged as essential inputs to feed cities. 

Urban planners have, however, often treated resources such as WEF as separate domains. What is missing is an ‘Urban Nexus’ perspective which assumes that Environmental Flows of WEF Networks interact and relate to one another in achieving urban sustainable development.

This project will offer an analytical framework to study the Urban Nexus of resources such as WEF through a more social and material Environmental Flows Analysis. The material analysis will show the processes and flows in which WEF Network Systems go through, giving special attention to (1) resources inputs, (2) infrastructure, and (3) consumption goods.

Thereafter, the social (non-material) analysis will focus in-depth on how (1) social dynamics (2) actors, (3) and institutional arrangements come together in the scene of WEF Networks Systems and their Urban Nexus. Both, the theoretical and methodological framework are applied to study cases in order to gather a more empirical basis for the Nexus research.

Project period

1 Oct 2015 -  30 Sep 2019


Other parties involved

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WEFE Nexus Publication // European Commission Position Paper on the WEFE Nexus and the SDGs

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) and European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) have recently launched a Position Paper on the Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Highlighting the key outcomes of exchanges with experts held in 2018, the Paper aims to launch a dialogue on how to operationalise the WEFE Nexus.

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Solar-powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS)

JRC Technical Report // Water-Energy-Food Nexus Interactions Assessment: Renewable Energy Sources to support Water Access and Quality in West Africa

By Kougias I., Szabó S., Scarlat N., Monforti F., Banja M., Bódis K., Moner-Girona M. Mitigating the big challenges of access to clean water, energy and poverty in Africa requires integrated solutions. The analysis of issues related to the water, energy, food and the ecosystem through a nexus approach, has attracted the interest of scientists, policy-makers and the private sector. The present Technical Report examines the potential of such an approach to create beneficial synergies between the...

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Modelling and Assessment

Holistic Water-Energy-Food Nexus for Guiding Water Resources Planning // Matagorda County, Texas Case

By Muhammed I. Kulat, Rabi H. Mohtar and Francisco Olivera. The authors developed a holistic framework to provide sustainable scenarios that include feasible infrastructure interventions. The framework focuses on water and associated links with other resources, includes a unique analytic tool for quantifying scenarios, and ultimately produces a sustainability analysis of each scenario. Optimal scenarios are offered that consider site-specific dynamic resource interlinkages. The WEF nexus model...

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