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Research Papers, Publications and Books

Unraveling the Nexus // Exploring the Pathways to Combined Resource Use

By David Font Vivanco, Ranran Wang, Sebastiaan Deetman and Edgar Hertwich. In response to the unprecedented decline in global natural resource endowments, the so‐called nexus framework is gaining increasing influence on resource management practices. In this research, the authors approach the resource nexus through the concept of nexus pathways. Nexus pathways are configurations that resource flows follow along supply chains leading to the combined use of two or more resources.

Three general types of pathways are identified: direct (on‐site use), dependent (one‐way supply chains), and interdependent (supply‐chain feedbacks). The authors quantify and compare each pathway by means of multiregional input‐output analysis and structural path analysis, and apply this approach to a comparative case study on the water‐energy nexus (WEN) in the United States and China. Interdependencies or feedbacks are generally thought to be relevant for the WEN, especially between water and energy sectors.

This economy‐wide analysis for both countries indicates, however, that feedbacks neither play an important role in the WEN nor substantially take place between water and energy sectors. The most important feedbacks contribute to less than 1% of total resource use, and these take place mostly between manufacturing sectors. Overall, the studied WEN is mostly driven by dependent pathways and, to a lesser degree, direct resource use. Comparative differences between the two countries are largely explained by differences in economic structure, technology, and resource endowments.

These findings call into question current research and policy focus and suggest greater attention to less complex, but more determining, pathways leading to absolute resource use.


Wiley Online Library website


February 2018


Journal of Industrial Ecology

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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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