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  1. Water, energy, and food are all essential components of human societies. Collectively, their respective resource systems are interconnected in what is called the “nexus”. There is growing consensus that a holistic understanding of the interdependencies and trade-offs between these sectors and other related systems is critical to solving many of the global challenges they present. While nexus research has grown exponentially since 2011, there is no unified, overarching approach, and the implementation of concepts remains hampered by the lack of clear case studies. Here, we present the results of a collaborative thought exercise involving 75 scientists and summarize them into 10 key recommendations covering: the most critical nexus issues of today, emerging themes, and where future efforts should be directed. We conclude that a nexus community of practice to promote open communication among researchers, to maintain and share standardized datasets, and to develop applied case studies will facilitate transparent comparisons of models and encourage the adoption of nexus approaches in practice.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 11, 2023
  2. Abstract

    The security, resilience, and sustainability of urban water supply systems (UWSS) are challenged by global change pressures, including climate and land use changes, rapid urbanization, and population growth. Building on prior work on UWSS security and resilience, we quantify the sustainability of UWSS based on the performance of local sustainable governance and the size of global water and ecological footprints. We develop a new framework that integrates security, resilience, and sustainability to investigate trade-offs between these three distinct and inter-related dimensions. Security refers to the level of services, resilience is the system’s ability to respond to and recover from shocks, and sustainability refers to local and global impacts, and to the long-term viability of system services. Security and resilience are both relevant at local scale (city and surroundings), while for sustainability cross-scale and -sectoral feedbacks are important. We apply the new framework to seven cities selected from diverse hydro-climatic and socio-economic settings on four continents. We find that UWSS security, resilience, and local sustainability coevolve, while global sustainability correlates negatively with security. Approaching these interdependent goals requires governance strategies that balance the three dimensions within desirable and viable operating spaces. Cities outside these boundaries risk system failure in themore »short-term, due to lack of security and resilience, or face long-term consequences of unsustainable governance strategies. We discuss these risks in the context of poverty and rigidity traps. Our findings have strong implications for policy-making, strategic management, and for designing systems to operate sustainably at local and global scales.

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