event 31 авг. 2018 time 09:00

Session at RGS 2018 // Operationalising an Ecosystem Approach for NEXUS Governance: The Case of Natural Resources Wales

The water-energy-food-environment nexus presents a significant governance challenge; representing a Gordian knot of entangled challenges, scales, perspectives, interests, and responsibilities. Designing and operationalising governance and management frameworks that capture and represent the different and changing dynamics of this complex and wicked system is supremely challenging. However, the Convention on Biological Diversity's 'Ecosystem Approach' (EA) is a framework that offers opportunities to tackle these wicked complexities.

category Sessions, Panels and Side Events tag Ecosystems tag Ecosystems / WEFE Nexus
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Based upon the twelve Malawi Principles the EA emphasizes integrated management best practice and offers a flexibility, breadth, and inclusivity that might account for the dynamics of managing complexity across the NEXUS. Although the EA's domestic impact in UK policy and practice has (historically) been minimal, this framework is now starting to be ‘re-discovered’ by devolved governance actors, such as the Welsh Government and their new natural resource management agency, Natural Resource Wales (NRW). Institutional re-alignment towards new processes, cultures, and leadership is notoriously difficult.

In this paper, based on extensive qualitative interviews with NRW managers, I/we explore the challenges, synergies and path ahead for NRW in operationalising the EA framework. This paper concludes with a number of key messages, and by speculating, if deemed ‘successful’ within NRW, where else might this ecosystem approach be used to structure management across the NEXUS.


  • Nick Kirsop-Taylor (University of Surrey / University of Exeter, UK)
  • Adam Hejnowicz (University of York, UK)
  • Karen Scott (University of Exeter, UK)

Chair: Kirsty Blackstock, James Hutton Institute, UK

About this Session

The concept of the food-energy-water-environment nexus has been in vogue since being identified as part of the ‘perfect storm’ of drivers on society by the UN in 2011. It has become a narrative to try to capture and explain the systemic nature of global wicked problems; and also to provide innovative solution to these wicked problems. For some, it is an invitation to grapple with the persistence of complex socio-ecological challenges and offer a site for transformation in our relationship to the material landscapes. For others, it remains a technical challenge to be resolved through optimisation of resource use in any given landscape. As social scientists, we are interested in how institutions, governance and management lie at the heart of either approach to the nexus in specific places and spaces.

The session "Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (1): Speed Talks" at the Annual Conference 2018 of the Royal Geographical Society involves contributions from those involved in Water-Energy-Food nexus research or those trying to manage or govern the nexus in practice, asking them to reflect on the following questions:

  • To what extent can the nexus be managed or governed?
  • To what extent does adopting a nexus perspective improve the governance of social-ecological systems?
  • Has the narrative of the nexus simulated innovative approaches or do the same fundamental governance and management challenges apply?
  • Are there new actors or sites for action emerging from taking a nexus lens?
  • Are new methodologies emerging from taking a nexus lens?
  • What can we learn from other governance and management domains; and what can nexus scholarship offer to others?

This session will consist of grouped speed talks followed by small group discussions with the presenters. The sister session Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (2) will involve a workshop based around a rapid synthesis of the main points.

Where and when

Part of Session "Adaptive management and governance of the food-energy-water-environment Nexus (1): Speed Talks"

31 Aug 2018

Glamorgan Building
Seminar Room -1.80

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