Since 2011 the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus has gained prominence as a lens for assessing integrated resource management and sustainable development (Front. Environ. Sci. 2019 Vol 7:8; Front. Environ. Sci. 2019 Vol 7:86). In recent years there has, however, been a call to move from ‘nexus thinking’ to ‘nexus action’ (Cosust 2019 Vol 40:117-123). One means of integrating resource sectors, which are measured in different units and time scales, is through the development of a composite indicator. To this end, the WEF Nexus Index has been developed (WRC Report no. 2959/1/19) following the methodology developed by the European Commission JRC Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards.
This composite indicator, which utilises the multi-centric WEF nexus as its conceptual framework, and is comprised of the three resource sectors i.e. Water, Energy and Food as equal pillars/sub-indices. Each resource sector is, in turn, made up of ‘access’ and ‘availability’ sub-pillars, which are also weighted equally. Following a review of 87 globally available indicators, 21 relevant indicators were selected to construct the WEF Nexus Index (as presented in Figure 1). Sufficient data is available for the composite indicator to be determined for 170 nations for current (2019) data availability. The WEF Nexus Index should not be viewed as an end in itself, but rather as an entry point into the underlying pillars, sub-pillars and indicators. It can also catalyse, or be utilised in parallel with, complementary quantitative and qualitative nexus assessments. For further information regarding the development of the WEF Nexus Index refer to the OSF PrePrint or the WRC Report.
This research was supported by the Water Research Commission (Project Number: K5/2959), the National Research Foundation (Grant Number: 114692) of South Africa and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands through the WEF-Tools project of the Partnership Programme for Water and Development (DUPC2) under Activity Number no. 28325 / DME0121369 through IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.