UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


The global resource nexus - a new approach to advance understanding of sustainability transitions

(c) UCL Creative Media

7 October 2015

The global resource nexus can be seen as a relatively new concept for understanding transformations. The nexus addresses the interconnections between demand for, production of, and use of multiple natural resources simultaneously. With increasing demand becoming more erratic and uncer- tain, and supplies being dependent on some producing regions under stress, the nexus amplifies single issues and drives regions toward instability and conflicts. The biofuel dilemma illustrates this lack of a systemic approach impressively: neither environmen- tal externalities nor resource consequences nor socio-economic impacts were originally addressed. Initial biofuel agendas were mainly driven by narrowly defined CO2 reduction targets. Such silo approach is often visible and leads to a number of unintended side-effects. The resource nexus with its focus on inter-linkages, synergies and trade-offs presents an opportunity to revitalize and systematically take forward previous and disparate approaches for integration. The contribution will present a framework for a nexus approach, cases of analysis and initial experience with its application, e.g. from Ethiopia and from the MENA region. The contribution will discuss strengths and weaknesses of the nexus approach for advance understanding of the transformations. An operational perspective will be proposed which will be derived from current metrics. An outline of a modelling approach will be provided, making use of existing tools (e.g. SEI’s WEAP-LEAP), which have been developed and applied (e.g. in Ethiopia and California). This will emphasize the necessity of further research to assess resource nexus.

The global resource nexus - a new approach to advance understanding of sustainability transitions. Transformations 2015 People and the planet in the anthropocene Stockholm, Sweeden.

Hoff, H., Bleischwitz, R., Spataru, C. (2015)

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