Making governance work for water-energy-food nexus approaches

A new CDKN working paper by Andrew Scott of ODI explores the effectiveness of governing for the “water-energy-food nexus” of issues. The author looks at approaches that understand the links between sectors, recognise these in decision-making and promote integrated policy-making.

The concept of the water–energy–food (WEF) nexus has become widely used to help understand interdependencies among the three systems, and how they can be managed sustainably to meet growing demand. The water–energy–food nexus has especially been advocated to address conflicts among the sectors. However, governance in the water–energy–food nexus has not received much attention in the literature, particularly the institutions and politics governing the water–energy–food sectors.

This paper synthesises findings from CDKN-supported action research in this area. The paper draws from findings in Indonesia, Kenya and the Amazon Basin to show that the effectiveness of the horizontal (cross-sectoral) and vertical (between levels of government) coordination that is essential for a nexus approach is determined by institutional relationships, which can be influenced by political economy factors. The capacity of governing organisations to understand nexus links and to collaborate with each other is also critical.

The paper suggests that aiming for the ideal of comprehensiveness and integration in a nexus approach may be costly and impractical. Nevertheless, horizontal and vertical coordination are essential. Local-level decision-making will determine how trade-offs and synergies in the water–energy–food nexus are implemented. The capacities of local government organisations and decision-makers need to be strengthened to enhance their capacity to adopt nexus approaches and coordinate vertically.

Expanding vulnerability assessment for public lands: The social complement to ecological approaches

In recent years, federal land management agencies in the United States have been tasked to consider climate change vulnerability and adaptation in their planning. Ecological vulnerability approaches have been the dominant framework, but these approaches have significant limitations for fully understanding vulnerability in complex social-ecological systems in and around multiple-use public lands. In this paper, we describe the context of United States federal public lands management with an emphasis on the Bureau of Land Management to highlight this unique decision-making context. We then assess the strengths and weaknesses of an ecological vulnerability approach for informing decisionmaking. Next, we review social vulnerability methods in the context of public lands to demonstrate what these approaches can contribute to our understanding of vulnerability, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we suggest some key design principles for integrated social-ecological vulnerability assessments considering the context of public lands management, the limits of ecological vulnerability assessment, and existing approaches to social vulnerability assessment. We argue for the necessity of including social vulnerability in a more integrated social-ecological approach in order to better inform climate change adaptation.

Cambridge Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - Part 2

CCVA - Part 2 focuses on the risks from sea level rise and storm surges.  The summary report and two technical reports describe the methods and results from applying the Boston Harbor Flood Risk Model, which is based on the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) model, in a vulnerability assessment of key assets and populations in Cambridge, MA.  The Part 2 report complements the Part 1 report, which focuses on the risks from increasing temperatures and precipitation.  The two CCVA Reports form the technical foundation for the Cambridge Climate Change Preparedness & Resilience Plan that is being developed.

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Research Associate
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Senior Program Manager

Adapting to Climate Change in Minnesota: 2017 Report of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team

This 2017 report from Minnesota's Interagency Climate Adaptation Team updates previous versions from 2010 and 2013. The report describes observed and projected climate impacts in Minneosta, summarizes Minnesota state agency activities that are helping to adapt to climate change, presents statewide indicators of climate adaptation, and provides recommendations for future state action and interagency collaboration. 

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Manager, Advisory Services
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CED provides nationally-accredited, inventive, and demanding programs in landscape architecture, historic preservation, environmental planning & design, and environmental ethics. At CED, our students cultivate not only the skills they need to work as professional designers and practitioners, but the individual passions they have to make a difference in their world.

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Coastal Program Coordinator - S Florida
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Executive Administrator
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