Session 15-II - Science-Policy Interfacing for Managing a Natural Resource Nexus
[Governance and policy]

Convener - Floor Brouwer

Speaker Titel Abstract Kind of presentation
Carolin Märker Analyzing nexus governance in Germany - the state of policy integration among water, energy, and agricultural policy  Increasing impacts of climate change put major pressures on natural resources, such as water, energy, and food. However, many issues concerning the use of these resources are a problem of management rather than a problem of availability. Due to a historically grown institutional setting and sectoral mandates natural resource governance is often organized in separate silos. The nexus approach calls for an integrated management that takes interrelations and trade-offs into account. Therefore, in this paper, successful nexus governance is understood as an issue of policy coherence and policy integration. By using the concept of Environmental Policy Integration and its definition of a vertical and a horizontal dimension of policy integration the governance of the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus on the federal level in Germany is analyzed. To this end, a comprehensive qualitative document analysis and several expert interviews are conducted. The results, firstly, show an uneven proportion of vertical and horizontal policy integration for the German case. Whereas several instruments of vertical integration exist the horizontal dimension seems to be too weak in order to reach successful nexus governance. Secondly, the problem of nitrate pollution and the case of bioenergy are the most prominent issues regarding the FEW nexus in Germany. Even if clear regulations for both cases exist the state of successful integration highly differs. Thirdly, the analysis also revealed that new challenges for governance and management will come up, such as concerns in water management that are not yet adequately addressed. Generally, it becomes apparent that the energy sector by far receives most of the attention. This implies that not only the significance varies among the three sectors, but also that the importance of interconnections between the resources is determined by policy preferences rather than biophysical interrelations and that it can change over time. Oral (normal length)
Maria Witmer Success factors for the governance of the nexus between water, land, energy, food and climate  Successful nexus policy concerns the whole policy cycle and depends on political will, mindset, knowledge management and careful organization of the policy-making process. Success factors for a nexus policy process were deduced from cases and categorized into Knowledge management, Dealing with uncertainty and complexity, Social dynamics, Resources and Monitoring. Shared goals, perspectives and interests, as well as commitment and trust were enabling factors for success. Profound attention must be paid to these conditions, as they cannot be taken for granted in inter‐sectoral processes. The added value of a nexus approach stems from the exploitation of synergy between policies, avoidance of unforeseen conflicts and trade-offs, and innovative solutions stimulated by cross-sectoral views and relational learning. These benefits must be demonstrated to persuade politicians and policy-makers to use a nexus approach. As the list of success factors is extensive, the question arises when nexus governance is ‘good enough’. This may differ from one case to the other and must be explored by applying the success factors in practice. European policies for water, land, energy, food and climate reckons with mutual trade-offs but pays less attention to the opportunities for and benefits of synergy. Policy incoherence usually manifests during implementation in the member states and regions. The European Commission does not have an institutionalized procedure for a comprehensive nexus assessment of new policies. The result of such assessment could define the nexus scope of the policy-making process. Integrating themes can stimulate a nexus approach, for example circular and low-carbon economy related to resource efficiency and planetary boundaries, sustainable production, supply and consumption of healthy food related to public health. These themes cross disciplines and scales. New institutions, temperate or permanent, can be developed around these themes to facilitate a nexus policy process. This research formed part of the European Horizon 2020 project SIM4NEXUS. Oral (normal length)
Philip Nuss Socio-Economic Metabolism and Planetary Boundaries in Support of German Resource Policy  With the adoption of the Resource Efficiency Program in 2012, Germany was among the first countries to determine targets, guiding principles, and individual instruments and measures for the protection of natural resources. Common indicators monitoring progress are based on material flow accounting for an aggregated and input-based overview of material flows into the economy. However, individual policy measures and instruments are often viewed in isolation and indicators often do not take into account natural limits of resource use informed, e.g., by the planetary boundaries (PB) concept. This presentation will provide an overview of current research efforts by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) to inform resource policy by using data and knowledge on material cycles, associated environmental pressures, and environmental boundaries of the earth system. It will start by discussing the extent to which EU use of raw materials might have already surpassed their natural cycles and propose options for further integrating PBs into targets and indicators of sustainable resource use. Possible development paths toward a more resource efficient and greenhouse gas neutral society will be presented. Finally, political measures and instruments are examined through the lens of network analysis to identify measures targeting the same resources or supporting similar policy goals. Together these research efforts are hoped to further streamline socio-economic metabolism research into the policy realm and, by doing so, allow for a more integrated assessment of sustainable resource use. Oral (normal length)
Priscila Carvalho A Normative-Institutional Approach to the Water-energy Nexus: The case study of Brazil  Sustainable resource management is amongst the most pressing challenges recognised under multiple global agendas. The operational-resource interdependencies between water and energy are the subject of several nexus studies that analyse the critical interactions between them at resource use level and its challenges to resource governance. Most of the existing work has favoured the integration of water and energy sectors based on quantitative approaches to address their interlinkages and tackle trade-offs. However, from a legal perspective, very little is known about how these sectors should be integrated in practice. This study will go further by proposing a normative-institutional approach that can offer a flexible, integrated and adequate legal treatment to overcome the tensions between water and energy in the context of asymmetrical governance, norms, regulation, planning, and policies. There is not only a gap in the literature in relation to the institutional-normative aspects of the water-energy nexus but in some cases its explicit rejection or subordination to the orientation of experts and techno-scientific approach. By bringing together the various aspects of water-energy nexus challenges in Brazil, including as an issue of a collision of normative principles, this study highlights the existing risks to an interpretation of the law that recognises the water-energy nexus. A normative-institutional approach split in substantive, institutional and procedural dimensions is necessary to fill this gap and enhance participatory and equitable resource management. This research will present a method based on the laws of balancing principles through fair, rational, inclusive and transparent procedures, which can address the different dimensions of resource nexus. It will support decision-making environments and procedures that consider the realisation at different degrees of the legal principles that guide natural resource use. Furthermore, it will support a new interpretation of the law that recognises the resource nexus and addresses the critical cross-resource interlinkages and conflicts. Oral (short presentation)
Maria Ana Rodriguez Science-Policy dialogue for better WEF Nexus policies. Realizing the potential and managing the risks of solar powered irrigation in Chile and Tunisia  Electricity is rarely available to farmers on small, dispersed plots and high fuel costs mean that smallholder farmers cannot rely on diesel or petrol pumps for lifting the necessary water resources. Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) offer an inexpensive and effective alternative to electric and fuel-based pumps, enabling farmers to overcome energy-related access and cost constraints to expanding irrigation and thus ensuring food security. On the other hand, the access to SPIS poses challenges for the sustainable use of water resources. The Nexus Dialogue Programme together with partner institutions have conducted research studies on the use of SPIS by farmers in Chile and Tunisia and its impact on the use of natural resources. In both cases, the overuse of groundwater poses a challenge for the preservation of the resource itself and thus the longer-term sustainability of food security in the exploited areas. Presenting the case studies from Chile and Tunisia, we want to foster a dialogue between the research and policy sectors and discuss with the audience how the WEF Nexus is useful to facilitate an inter-sectoral dialogue that will allow a balanced use of natural resources that promote synergies and minimizes trade-offs. This in turn can ensure the longer-term sustainability of climate-smart technologies like SPIS. Oral (normal length)
Nike Sommerwerk Which impact do networks for biodiversity really have? Lessons learned from national biodiversity platforms, challenges and opportunities  To combat the global biodiversity crisis, the best available knowledge and smart ways for its implementation are required. However, knowledge provided by biodiversity researchers and suggestions for its implementation are not sufficiently referred to and used during decision-making in the policy realm. Therefore, science-policy interfaces have been created to facilitate the sharing and dissemination of knowledge and to support societal and political negotiation processes. Structures like biodiversity platforms and networks (e.g. German Network-Forum for Biodiversity Research (NeFo), Belgian Biodiversity Platform, Swiss Biodiversity Forum, Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB), France) support biodiversity researchers in participating actively in policy processes. They furthermore create opportunities for dialogues among different stakeholders, help to increase the visibility of biodiversity research and foster the societal awareness for biodiversity. Many of these platforms and networks are already well established and have gained professional experience over several years in the activities outlined above. Against this background, the focus of the suggested contribution is to analyze and evaluate how European biodiversity platforms and networks function effectively, and what they have achieved. This includes i.a. the following questions: • Under which different governance and institutional arrangements have biodiversity platforms and networks been set up, under which conditions do they operate and what are common pros and cons? • How have the missions, tools, and governance of biodiversity platforms and networks evolved over time? • What are challenges in maintaining these biodiversity platforms and networks? • Which actors/stakeholder groups are reached and how? • Do biodiversity platforms and networks reach their aim to inform and improve decision making in policy and civil society? And how can this impact be assessed scientifically? From this, lessons learned, challenges and opportunities will be derived and discussed. Recommendations will be given on how to set up biodiversity platforms and networks and how to improve Oral (short presentation)
Roger Strand The biophysical and institutional nexus of the Circular Economy: old tensions, new expectations.  In 2013, the idea of a “circular economy” entered the stage of European policy-making. The Circular Economy promotes a future in which linear ‘make-use-dispose’ cultures are replaced by more circular models. We argue that the Circular Economy is a nexus policy. A nexus policy is a policy that aims at overcoming silos, that is, fragmented policies that try to govern one issue at the time. The circular economy is a nexus policy because it aims to reconcile economic interests and environmental concerns, by allegedly transforming the challenge of waste management into the opportunity to keep the value of resources for as long as possible in the economy. This presentation describes and discusses how circularity is conceived, imagined and enacted in current EU policy-making. It traces the messy assemblage of institutions, actors, waste streams, biophysical flows, policy objectives, scientific disciplines, values, expectations, promises and aspirations that make up collective imaginations of circular futures. Our findings are based on interviews with European Commission policy officers and a review of policy documents. The presentation will show how the Circular Economy promises to overcome the chasm between the environmentalist discourses of scarcity, security and sustainability, and the discourses of smart and inclusive growth around which the European project is built. The presentation will explore options for future governance by reflecting on how narratives of “stop” and “go” get reconciled in Circular Economy policies, which (and whose) interests and agencies are promoted and repressed respectively and, finally, which type of scientific knowledge and evidence is needed to support policy makers in the uncertainty context of the Circular Economy. This will lead to the argument that it is necessary to move beyond narrow ideas of “innovation” and “techno-fixes” and that proposes to think about novel modes of caring for our environment. Oral (normal length)
Srinivasa Reddy Srigiri Polycentric governance of Water-Energy-Food Nexus – conceptual and methodological advances for analysis  Water-Energy-Food nexus governance, from a normative point of view, is meant to reduce trade-offs and increase synergies in promoting goals of water, energy and food securities. However, it is less clear how WEF nexus governance can be conceptualised and analysed from a methodological point of view. The three WEF securities are provided by complex interactions within social-ecological systems (SES) and their simultaneous provision requires sustainable resource governance across different actor-types, sectors, governance levels and scales. It thus makes a case for polycentric governance systems. Addressing these interdependencies is fundamentally a political process involving multiple actors with different perceptions, interests and practices as well as different underlying institutions/rules. It hence requires coordination among different actors for changing or sustaining institutions, policy goals and policy instruments that guide actions leading to sustainable outcomes. Coordination again may be achieved through combinations of three ideal-types governance modes: hierarchies, markets and networks, each with its strengths and weaknesses. It is argued that complex natural resource governance systems are unlikely to be achieved by a single governance mode but rather by synergistic combinations of governance modes. From a methodological point of view, expanding institutional analysis of a single action situation to include a network of multiple action situations that explicate multidirectional causal relations has been useful in analysing polycentric governance. In the case of WEF securities, analysis of adjacent action situations in different policy domains has the potential for assessing inconsistencies among policies, institutions and policy instruments affecting overlapping actors interested in same natural resource systems in different empirical contexts. We hence propose the above conceptual and methodological framework for analysing interdependencies in the WEF related Sustainable Development Goals with empirical insights from a multi-country study. Oral (normal length)
Harry Lehmann Sustainable Development and Resource Productivity - The Nexus Approaches   Oral (short presentation)