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Mapping the Nexus workshops

In the last fortnight, Robert Sparkes took part in two workshops that tried to map the Water-Energy-Food nexus, looking at the driving forces, overlaps and interactions in all three systems. The workshops were funded by the ESRC Nexus Network, and run by Dr Guy Ziv from Leeds.

“At the first workshop, we used a structured technique called Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping to identify the major drivers for water, energy and food demand in the UK, and to decide how strong the links were within this system. Helped by the Centre for Facilitation we followed a strict procedure designed to produce three comparable and quantifiable maps (one each for water/energy/food) and then linked them together.

At the second workshop, a new group looked at the maps with a fresh set of eyes (I was the only person at both workshops). Here we were looking to see whether there were any disagreements with the original maps, or to spot obvious mistakes. There was a lot more discussion and suggestions for improvement than anyone expected, which must show just how complex the W-E-F nexus can be! After a morning of crossing out and adding in, a new nexus map was agreed on.

We then ran some thought experiments to see how thet system would change in the future. What will be the most important driver for water, energy or food demand if the climate is four degrees hotter? What if we leave the EU and migration is reduced? We explored the strength of each link in the network, and Guy will now computerise and analyse our ideas to test the way that the water-energy-food system responds to these future changes.”

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