New Book on the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

  • 2018/06/05     Dresden, Germany

    Image: MarinMtk/iStock

    By Defne Altiok, Communications and Advocacy and Stephan Hülsmann, Systems and Flux Analysis Considering Global Change Assessment

    The sustainable use of natural resources is central to every major environmental crisis the world faces today. As different aspects of climate change, urbanisation, and population growth are increasingly posing challenges for our planet, the world’s scarce resources are being exposed to the risk of depletion.

    To reduce environmental risks and maintain survival and well-being of humankind globally, the United Nations (UN) Member States agreed on a framework for working towards a sustainable future – including the responsible use and management of resources – as presented in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    On World Environment Day 2018, UNU-FLORES launches its new book Managing Water, Soil and Waste Resources to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals: Monitoring and Implementation of Integrated Resources Management (2018). Advancing the Nexus Approach, it takes into account the interconnectedness and complexity of environmental resource management. The book explores key aspects of monitoring and implementing a Water-Soil-Waste Nexus Approach and how this will help achieving the SDGs.

    “In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to end poverty, ensure prosperity for all, and protect the planet. As part of the United Nations system, UNU-FLORES works steadfastly to contribute towards sustainable development and thereby the SDGs.”

    Read more on A Nexus Approach towards the SDGs

    In accordance with the SDGs, World Environment Day is celebrated every year on 5 June to raise global awareness and take action on environmental issues and problems, and promote transforming our world into a sustainable future.

    Resulting from position papers submitted for the Dresden Nexus Conference (DNC) in 2017, the book furthers the discussion on how to successfully implement SDGs and advance a Nexus Approach. Providing a detailed description on the ways resource systems interact and support each other at horizontal and vertical nexus dimensions, it contemplates on novel and emerging strategies through a resources perspective, focusing on the close relationships and interdependencies of Water-Soil-Waste cycles.

    Highlights of Managing Water, Soil and Waste Resources to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals: Monitoring and Implementation of Integrated Resources Management (2018)

    • focus on the importance of monitoring resource use and how to advance it at the international level to support SDG implementation
    • exemplify the resources perspective on the Nexus Approach by exploring how to close the nitrogen cycle and stay within planetary boundaries
    • elaborate on proven and emerging strategies for nexus implementation, highlighting means to enhance, monitor, and analyse stakeholder participation
    • explain how the horizontal and vertical nexus dimensions interact and can support SDG implementation

    In the attempt to conserve and carefully manage our planet’s environmental resources, World Environment Day 2018 campaigns particularly encourage elimination of plastic pollution on a global scale and advance sustainability through recycling and elimination of single-use plastic, referring in particular to SDG 12 on “Responsible Consumption and Production”.

    This SDG, as outlined in one of the chapters of the book, is particularly integrative in nature and requires a “vertical nexus approach” across governance levels and spatial scales, which could mean streamlined policies on reducing plastic waste at transnational (e.g., EU) levels. Achieving targets of SDG 12 also implies effective monitoring of resource use at the global scale, for which specific recommendations are made in another chapter of the book.

    Book Chapters Authors
    The Nexus Approach as Tool for Achieving SDGs: Trends and Needs Stephan Hülsmann and Reza Ardakanian
    Key Strategies to Achieve the SDGs and Consequences for Monitoring Resource Use Stefan Bringezu
    The Urgent Need to Re-engineer Nitrogen-Efficient Food Production for the Planet Ilje Pikaar, Silvio Matassa, Korneel Rabaey, Bronwyn Laycock, Nico Boon, and Willy Verstraete
    Participatory Processes and Integrated Modelling Supporting Nexus Implementations Alex Smajgl
    Games for Aiding Stakeholder Deliberation on Nexus Policy Issues Junko Mochizuki, Piotr Magnuszewski, and Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer
    Governance of Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A Social Network Analysis Approach to Understanding Agency Behaviour Mathew Kurian, Kent E. Portney, Gerhard Rappold, Bryce Hannibal, and Solomon H. Gebrechorkos
    Integrated SDG Implementation—How a Cross-Scale (Vertical) and Cross-Regional Nexus Approach Can Complement Cross-Sectoral (Horizontal) Integration Holger Hoff

    In order to successfully reach resource-related goals, UNU-FLORES’s new book encourages cooperation on the sustainable management of environmental resources and emphasises the need for developing integrated solutions to be implemented, instead of looking at individual components of problems. Tackling the SDGs from a nexus perspective, the book adopts a process-oriented approach on environmental resources management and articulates the experience of the community of decision makers and scientists from various disciplines.


    Hülsmann, Stephan and Ardakanian, Reza, eds. 2018. Managing Water, Soil and Waste Resources to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals: Monitoring and Implementation of Integrated Resources Management. Cham: Springer International Publishing.