Science Forum 2018 Plenary Session // Grappling with Complex Systems: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus Experience

This document summarises the findings of two background papers that were commissioned to guide the discussions in the "Grappling With Complex Systems: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus Experience" session. The two papers are "The climate-land-energy and water nexus: Implications for agricultural research" and "Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Agriculture Research for Development: The case for integrative modelling via place-based observatories."

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New paradigms regarding agriculture as an integral part of interlinked value chains that promote sustainable growth, food and energy security and waste reduction are emerging. The Water-Energy-Food Nexus embodies several tradeoffs/synergies between food, environment, health/nutrition. The main focus of the session is on ways in which we can reconcile the many interactions in this complex system and use these approaches to improve the way CGIAR research is designed and implemented.

One way of dealing with complex systems is through models. Models are tools: their real usefulness stems not only from their ability to predict the outcome of management interventions, but rather in their power to foresee the likelihood and severity of opportunities and consequences that might arise from a combination of climate, soil, plant, animal and human interactions. The difference between prediction and foresight might appear subtle, yet it is profound: predicting an outcome transfers all power to the person making the prediction (usually a scientist), while foreseeing likelihoods and consequences empowers actors to choose and actively create the desirable future they envision while avoiding undesirable outcomes.


Science Forum 2018 website (open access) 

Background Papers

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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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