(C) Nicolas Comte
Research

WEF Nexus Research // Engaging Stakeholders in Research to address Water–Energy–Food (WEF) Nexus Challenges

By A. Larkin, C. McLachlan, R. Falconer, I. Soutar, J. Suckling, L. Varga, I. Haltas, A. Druckman, D. Lumbroso, M. Scott, D. Gilmour, R. Ledbetter, S. McGrane, C. Mitchell, D. Yu. This paper reflects on recent progress in stakeholder engagement in nexus-related research. The authors outline four emerging themes within nexus research and consider the value of, and potential challenges for, transdisciplinary research in each. Specifically, the authors examine how transdisciplinary approaches are used in assessing and visualising nexus issues; understanding governance and building capacity; accounting for multi and inter-scalar relationships; and exploring the implications of future social, technological and climatic change.

The water–energy–food (WEF) nexus has become a popular, and potentially powerful, frame through which to analyse interactions and interdependencies between these three systems. Though the case for transdisciplinary research in this space has been made, the extent of stakeholder engagement in research remains limited with stakeholders most commonly incorporated in research as end-users. Yet, stakeholders interact with nexus issues in a variety of ways, consequently there is much that collaboration might offer to develop nexus research and enhance its application.

This paper outlines four aspects of nexus research and considers the value and potential challenges for transdisciplinary research in each. We focus on assessing and visualising nexus systems; understanding governance and capacity building; the importance of scale; and the implications of future change. The paper then proceeds to describe a novel mixed-method study that deeply integrates stakeholder knowledge with insights from multiple disciplines. We argue that mixed-method research designs—in this case orientated around a number of cases studies—are best suited to understanding and addressing real-world nexus challenges, with their inevitable complex, non-linear system characteristics. Moreover, integrating multiple forms of knowledge in the manner described in this paper enables research to assess the potential for, and processes of, scaling-up innovations in the nexus space, to contribute insights to policy and decision making.

Published

September 2018

In

Sustainability Science, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1415–1426

Download

Springer (open access)

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