Managing the Resource Nexus: If We Want to Go Far, Go Together

  • 2020/01/28     Dresden, Germany

    Image: Stacey Roden/UNU-FLORES

    By Ksenia Kuritsyna, Communications and Advocacy

    At her inaugural lecture as Director of UNU-FLORES, Prof. Edeltraud Guenther stressed the increasing necessity of coming back to the roots of the Latin term nexus to seek a “common denominator” for all working on it in academia.

    Delivered as part of the Nexus Seminar Series, the 41st instalment entitled “Measuring and Managing the Resource Nexus” took place on 16 December 2019 at the Festsaal of TU Dresden’s Faculty of Business and Economics. Comparing the initial meaning of the nexus term with its modern interpretation, Prof. Guenther stressed that “connectivity, interlinkage and integrated thinking” lie at its core. This definition can be considered the necessary basis, from which all engaged in scientific research can proceed.

    “The Nexus Approach to environmental resources management examines the interrelatedness and interdependencies of environmental resources and their transitions and fluxes across spatial scales and between compartments. Instead of just looking at individual components, the functioning, productivity, and management of a complex system are taken into consideration.”

    UNU-FLORES began its journey towards an integrated approach for achieving sustainable development with a focus on the management of water, soil, and waste. In his opening remarks, the Rector of Technische Universität Dresden, Prof. Hans Müller-Steinhagen, recalled the journey since the inception of the Institute.

    During the lecture, Prof. Guenther stressed that considering interconnections is crucial not only within the environmental field of study but also beyond soil, water, climate, food, and energy security are closely interlinked with political and economic security, while all the components are also interdependent.

    In addition to the cross-sectoral synergies, modern scientific research should not be done independently from and only presented to policymakers and business at a later stage but conducted with the active participation of the latter. To demonstrate the relevance of the science-policy interlinkage, Prof. Guenther gave two examples of projects at UNU-FLORES – one on water reuse in Mezquital Valley, Mexico, and another on soil and land-use management on the Loess Plateau, China.

    Backing the statement, DrFloor Brouwer from Wageningen University and Research, who was invited as discussant at the inaugural lecture, shared about the SIM4Nexus project for a resource-efficient Europe. The project is part of the Nexus Project Cluster, a network that aims to enhance nexus-compliant research and initiatives around water, land, food, energy, and climate. UNU-FLORES is on the Steering Committee of the Nexus Project Cluster.

    Image: Stacey Roden/UNU-FLORES

    Basing the Nexus Approach on transdisciplinarity, Dr Brouwer gave a real-life example of testing SIM4Nexus in the business plans of water, land, and energy management authorities in South England. This showed its applicability in the economic sector as well as demonstrated mutual interests with the engagement of stakeholders and/or policymakers.

    According to Prof. Guenther, a multifaceted structure and the consideration of the science-policy interface, as well as economic measure component, contribute to strengthening a nexus beyond environmental issues and thus create better interlinkages between sectors for enhanced cooperation and more efficient realisation of projects. Concluding her talk, Prof. Guenther cited an African saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

    The event culminated in a Q&A session followed by a reception. The former discussed questions about measuring the nexus and the application of the Nexus Approach in business. Prof. Guenther and Dr Brouwer also further shared concrete examples from UNU-FLORES’s research and the SIM4Nexus project.