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The Economics of the Water-Energy-Land-Food Nexus: How to Contribute to Restoration Goals?

Organizer: Attig-Bahar, F., Cremades, R.
Format: Online

Abstract:

Delivering water, energy, and food for all in a sustainable and equitable way is one of the major
challenges faced by our societies. Understanding the local dynamics of water, energy, land, and
food with a nexus approach can help developing pathways to meet these challenges. The nexus
helps us to understand the socio-ecological system dynamics connecting the local scale
processes with the earth system in multiple ways. It is known that consumers in cities are
connected to the ecosystem services of neighboring rivers, nearby and distant landscapes. It is
also known that societies failed to steer the ongoing trends — in particular the dynamics of
urbanization — to ensure a sustainable environment. However, reducing those impacts might
not be enough, since the current policy landscape is turning into ecological restoration.
How restoration could be operationalized? What does it mean in the regional and local policy
context? How the local dynamics of the water-energy-land-food nexus could be steered
towards restoration goals? Could river and landscape restoration goals contribute to the restoration of Earth system components and nutrient cycles (N, P, C) at different spatial and
temporal scales? How does this contribute to biodiversity? The water-energy-land-food nexus
can help us connect the economic goals of local planning (efficiency, impact reduction,
robustness, equity, …) with the sustainable management of the regional and global commons,
and thus help us to understand the consequences of different criteria for decisions. Can the current criteria for local planning contribute to restoration goals? Our session will discuss these issues departing from state-of-the-art activities on the nexus across world regions, with a focus on interacting nexus elements between and within regions: transboundary rivers, city-river basin interactions, advantages and limitations of circular systems, and irrigation and energy, i.a. We aim for an agenda-setting event exploring new ideas for policy and societal engagement from a cross-sectoral and inclusive perspective.