Journal article Open Access

Perception and Representation of the Resource Nexus at the Interface between Society and the Natural Environment

Giampietro, Mario

Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the resource nexus. This has created the co-existence of different understandings and uses of the concept. In this regard, experiences in the EU H2020 project ‘Moving towards adaptive governance in complexity: Informing nexus security’ are consistent with findings reported in the literature: (i) The inconvenient message of the nexus is difficult to get across, it being incompatible with the currently dominant rosy narratives about sustainability. Indeed, from a historic perspective, the nexus can be seen as a revival of the ideological fight between cornucopians and neo-Malthusians; (ii) Silo structures in existing institutions are a problem for the governance of the nexus, and so is the resulting reductionist strategy of addressing and fixing one issue at the time; (iii) Scientific inquiry is currently not providing the quality inputs needed for a meaningful discussion of the resource nexus. Entanglement of resource flows is rooted in the complex metabolic pattern of social-ecological systems, the analysis of which requires a complex systems approach and relational analysis. Contemporary reductionist models simply make the nexus invisible to the analyst.

The author's host institution, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, has received financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the "María de Maeztu" program for Units of Excellence (MDM-2015-0552).
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