Journal article Open Access

Relational analysis of the resource nexus in arid land crop production

Cabello, Violeta; Renner, Ansel; Giampietro, Mario

While a large number of descriptive studies have delineated the interlinkages between water, food and energy resources in the last decade, there is still need for systematic conceptualization of resource nexus interconnections. This paper proposes a theory of relational analysis of the nexus based on the analytical concept of nexus networks. A taxonomy of nexus interconnections, detailing sequential and hierarchical connections, is characterized between and amongst the technosphere and biosphere. We illustrate the use of a novel diagnostic tool with regard to its ability to integrate macro-, meso- and microscale drivers of nexus problems. We apply this framework to problems generated by intensive crop production for exportation in an arid landscape (driven by external markets) and sustainable management of water resources (driven by public policies) in a southern Spanish region. We elucidate interconnected causal mechanisms for groundwater overexploitation and profile different social-ecological patterns on a spatially-explicit basis. The proposed approach is capable of accounting for the water-energy-food resource nexus in an integrated and multi-level fashion, addressing the tensions generated by both multi-functionality and resource entanglement in complex social-ecological systems.

This research has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 689669 corresponding to the project Moving Towards Adap- tive Governance In Complexity: Informing Nexus Security ( www.magic- ); the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (FPU15/03376); the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, through the "María de Maeztu "program for Units of Excellence (MDM-2015-0552).
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