RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


152 Water Energy and Food Nexus: Dealing with a wicked problem? (1): WEF NEXUS Thinking: UK and International Perspectives
Convenor(s) Alice Bows-Larkin (The University of Manchester, UK)
Marian Scott (University of Glasgow, UK)
Paul Kemp (University of Southampton, UK)
Chair(s) Marian Scott (University of Glasgow, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract This session will explore WEF nexus challenges and associated methodologies and ask if parallels can be drawn from existing wicked problem solutions. Treating Water, Energy and Food (WEF) as an integrated system opens up space to explore efficiency gains and opportunities for innovative low impact solutions. These gains/solutions can arise from exploiting and interrogating interdependencies, identifying ancillary benefits and remediation of vulnerabilities. An integrated nexus view is not without challenges, as it possesses many of the attributes that characterise ‘Wicked Problems’. There are many Nexus challenges which include defining and characterising the dynamic WEF network (web), understanding and modelling the dynamic context of the WEF, accounting for and incorporating stakeholder views and, dealing with incomplete and/or contradictory knowledge. Presentations from a wide range of UK and international research projects will explore the NEXUS from interdisciplinary perspectives. This will include the latest NEXUS thinking from the three major EPSRC WEF sandpit projects, that collectively aim to create transformative research on the water energy food nexus, and seek revolutionary approaches to the complex challenges in this area. The session will include presentation of various WEF Nexus case studies and methodologies that address or present insights into the pertinent issues, in both a UK and international context.

Linked Sessions Water Energy and Food Nexus: Dealing with a wicked problem? (2): WEF NEXUS Thinking: Methods for addressing wicked problems
Water Energy and Food Nexus: Dealing with a wicked problem? (3): WEF NEXUS Thinking: Views from different scales and perspectives
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
A structured approach for upscaling innovation across the water-energy-food nexus
Alice Bows-Larkin (The University of Manchester, UK)
Carly McLachlan (The University of Manchester, UK)
Robert Sparkes (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
The WEF nexus has been the subject of significant recent research to identify the system dynamics across the three sectors, develop strategies for studying the nexus, and to describe examples of nexus activities around the world. Stepping Up is an EPSRC funded interdisciplinary research project exploring the water-energy-food nexus through identification of real world examples and systematic assessment of the potential for deploying these at scale. We are assessing if the benefits of such niche innovation can endure at scale, what policy and governance frameworks could facilitate deployment and the implications for the sustainability of the innovation under future changes in climate (both mitigation policy and environmental impacts). In this presentation, we identify and discuss key trends for methodological development in the nexus literature, including modelling approaches, dealing with trade-offs, the role of indicators, and the use of country and technology case studies. We will present a new methodological approach which includes: identifying case studies; building agent based models and developing system rules to upscale innovations; and assessing the impact of upscaled scenarios under climate change. We will close with issues that we would like to explore with other researchers working on nexus or other wicked problems.

Food, water and energy- a perfect storm? The WEFWEBs project
Marian Scott (University of Glasgow, UK)
Securing a sustainable supply of water, energy and food for all is a key global issue, particularly as 17 new sustainable development goals are agreed (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/), including water, energy, and food. Sir John Beddington coined the phrase "a perfect storm" around food, water and energy security in the context of climate change and growing populations. An increasing demand for land/food/energy/water, urbanisation and the need to limit exploitation of such resources (our natural capital) as well as a drive to economic growth puts tension on local, national and international resources, and our management systems. The WEFWEbs project (EPSRC EP N005600/1), recognises the complexity of the interconnections in the FEW system, which includes physical and natural processes, policy and people. All are interconnected, and impacted by climate and demographic change. Understanding the interdependencies between the different processes is essential to increase our ability to effectively predict and manage them. The feasibility and utility of WEF nexus mapping relies on an appropriate synthesis and interpretation of the available data and models, drawn from a wide variety of sources, including measurement and monitoring of the physical and ecological environment, process, statistical, behavioural and lifecycle models, and more qualitative data sources drawn from the diverse stakeholder communities, using recent developments in participatory mapping, crowd sourcing and social media. Some of the challenges we face lie in linking the different data sources which may be sparse, sometimes very spatially and temporally aggregated, as well as big (and there are also scale challenges). Once we have made those connections, then we need to analyse, aggregate and integrate the data with existing models in support of decision making. Other challenges lie in communicating the outputs to academics, policy-makers and other stakeholders.
Water Energy Food: Vaccinating the NEXUS
Paul Kemp (University of Southampton, UK)
Markus Owen (University of Nottingham, UK)
Dapeng Yu (Loughborough University, UK)
Darren Lumbroso (HR Wallingford Ltd, UK)
Mariella di Lorenzo (University of Bath, UK)
Sarah Purdy (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Michelle Acuto (University College London, UK)
Shaun Larcom (University of Cambridge, UK)
The demand for water, energy, and food (WEF) will increase with a growing population and a shift to a larger proportion of people living high hydrocarbon dependent lifestyles. Integrated, efficient, and sustainable resources management across the WEF sectors is essential to enhance and maintain quality of life, and requires the overall system to adapt over appropriate timescales. In an analogy of the human immune system, resilience can by enhanced by shocks (infection/injury) to the WEF nexus that lead to adaptation and long-term memories. Drought may drive improvements in water storage and demand management; floods may lead to enhanced engineering of river and coastal infrastructure. Through shocks to the system (vaccination), society is provided the opportunity to improve resilience and sustainable management of the WEF sectors. The EPSRC WEF Vaccination project investigates historic, potential and future shocks to the WEF nexus to provide insight and tools that will help plan greater resilience for the UK WEF systems. In this context, shocks are represented by: 1) historic events of flooding and droughts; 2) controlled experimental manipulation in the flume; and 3) defined inputs to models and scenario analysis. The project will identify interconnections between WEF through the development of an integrated framework. This will reveal vulnerabilities in the system and the diverse connections between the three facets of the nexus. The talk will focus on the methodological approaches used to demonstrate the WEF vaccination concept in the two case studies being undertaken, and the approach to integration for translating the research findings to relevant stakeholders.
Visual analysis of trade-offs in the water-energy-food nexus to support infrastructure investment decision-making in developing countries
Julien Harou (University of Manchester, UK)
Anthony Hurford (University of Manchester, UK)
Global population and economic growth are increasing demands for water, energy and food. Water resources can underpin all three whilst also supporting a range of ecosystem services. There are systemic interactions between the supply of water, energy and food, so security in each can be a function of activities across these sectors. Developing countries in particular, tend to lack coordinated planning, meaning water resources can become over-allocated by interventions planned separately by different sectors and unforeseen adverse impacts can occur. Populations tend to be more directly reliant on ecosystem services than in developed countries, increasing their vulnerability to change. To prevent such situations arising, it is beneficial to take a system scale approach to selecting new water infrastructure investments and their operating rules. Because of the multitude of inter-relationships in a river basin, the impacts of any proposed intervention can be challenging to understand. This challenge is only confounded by climatic change and other uncertainties around societal and economic developments during the lifetime of proposed infrastructure investments. Our proposed approach addresses all these challenges to better inform decision-making on river-basin interventions. It involves building a simulation model of a river basin system to evaluate the impacts of different interventions (infrastructure investments and/or operating rule changes) then linking the model to a multi-criteria search to identify the highest performing combinations of intervention options. Results are interactively visualised to understand them more intuitively. Stakeholders can be involved in defining the model's features and the metrics by which it evaluates system performance, to promote use of its outputs as the basis for consensus building about basin development. The approach is illustrated with examples from case studies in four developing countries – Brazil, Kenya, Nepal and Myanmar.
Improving decision-making on the water-land-food-energy-climate Nexus
David Savic (University of Exeter, UK)
Lydia Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia (University of Exeter, UK)
The H2020 SIM4NEXUS project will develop methods which facilitate the design of policies and will be able to bridge the knowledge and technology gaps in the field of the water-land-food-energy-climate Nexus under climate change conditions. The project aims to develop a methodology of integration using a complexity science approach and a Serious Game, as an integrating tool for testing and evaluating policy decisions. The Serious Game will be operable at various scales ranging from regional to global and at different time horizons - short, medium and long-term