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Advancing WEF nexus for climate change adaptation

Grant number: 20/00569-7
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: March 01, 2022 - February 29, 2024
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Convênio/Acordo: Universities New Zealand, Te Pōkai Tara
Mobility Program: SPRINT - Projetos de pesquisa - Mobilidade
Principal Investigator:Gabriela Marques Di Giulio
Grantee:Gabriela Marques Di Giulio
Principal researcher abroad: Silvia Serrao-Neumann
Institution abroad: University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Host Institution: Faculdade de Saúde Pública (FSP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:17/50423-6 - Globally and LOCally-sustainable food-water-energy innovation in Urban Living Labs: GLOCULL, AP.R


There is an increasing concern about water, energy and food security worldwide due to an expected increase in demand for these resources in the face of climate change and anthropogenic pressures. While water, energy and food issues have been traditionally addressed separately, the interrelation between these elements is becoming increasingly important. In recent years, the Water-Energy-Food nexus (WEF nexus) has become a widely discussed framework in the academic and political arenas, and has increasingly driven the research and policy discussion in the fields of sustainable development and resource security. The complexity of current social and environmental challenges requires holistic approaches and systems thinking to be fully understood, and adopting a systems perspective means to broaden our view and considering problems in their larger contexts. The WEF nexus can be considered as an application of systems thinking to the management of water, energy and food in order to inform trade-offs and limit unintended consequences, i.e. that sectoral solutions do not exacerbate existing or lead to new, larger problems, and to stimulate cross-sectoral synergies. Furthermore, climate change impacts on water, energy and food resources are also multidimensional requiring cross-sectoral adaptation approaches. It is clear then, that to address the WEF nexus you also need to consider climate change adaptation. Since local actors are at the forefront to implementing climate-friendly policies, thinking of the WEF nexus and climate change adaptation in a local context can bring direct environmental and socioeconomic benefits to communities. Thus, it is also worth highlighting the importance of local knowledge so that adaptation strategies are developed according to local specific needs, which can also contribute to less trade-offs between WEF nexus resources and the development of more synergies. In New Zealand, water, energy and food sectors are generally managed separately, and discussions relating to the WEF nexus are missing from current policies. The introduction of a systems approach might then bring great benefits to society and the environment through a more integrated policy framework for natural resource management. On the other hand, New Zealand has considerable experience enacting collaborative, stakeholder-led policy implementation in natural resource management when compared with the Brazilian context. Considering this context, important questions emerge. What are the current key questions, opportunities and research gaps relating to WFE for climate change adaptation in Brazil and New Zealand? To what extent can systems thinking methods be adjusted to better understand the connections in the nexus? Can the nexus approach help the adaptation processes to climate change? To investigate these issues, we propose a series of exchange activities with researchers from the University of São Paulo (Brazil) and the University of Waikato (New Zealand) between May 2020 and April 2022 (24 months in total). The proposal fosters knowledge exchange and experiences; leverages existing data; and lays the foundation for a joint project proposal. The teams will also offer lectures in both countries regarding related aspects of environmental sustainability, e.g. communication of climate change information to decision makers and transdisciplinary research applied to planning for climate change adaptation. (AU)

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