Routledge Handbook of the Resource Nexus
Demand for natural resources has grown rapidly for decades, and is expected to continue growing. These trends lead to repercussions, risks, and threats for humans and ecosystems at different scales. The challenges of sustainable resource management and governance are on numerous agendas, ranging from the G7 and G20 summits to UNEP’s International Resource Panel, World Economic Forum, SDG implementation, and a growing community of international scholars. Research highlights the importance of accounting for the interdependencies of resource use and sustainability goals such as eliminating hunger, mitigating climate change, and expanding energy access. There is a need to understand interdependencies and the feasibility of more integrated approaches.
Debate is often framed in terms of a “nexus” between water, energy, and food (sometimes including other resources).1 The main aim of this handbook is to come to grips with what the nexus2 is about, provide a reference textbook with an overview, and a survey on emerging and cutting-edge research, and application of the concept. This handbook is edited by five dedicated scholars, drawing on different schools of thought from different continents. Assembling a wide group of more than 50 authors across a host of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, this volume rests on a thorough review of relevant literature and, in emerging with a distinct and original perspective, it conceptualizes the resource nexus as a heuristic for understanding critical interlinkages between uses of different natural resources for systems of provision such as water, energy, and food. The editors organized a symposium which took place in London in March 2015, debating various aspects of the resource nexus and refining the concept and defining the structure of the handbook. All chapters have been reviewed several times. Many chapters seek to contribute to realization and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, see Chapter 32, as well as Chapters 4, 19, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29), which endeavor to achieve greater opportunities and a better life for the world population as a whole and for our globe’s poorest citizens, in particular while reducing environmental pressures. These goals – especially SDG2 (food), SDG6 (water), SDG7 (energy), SDG12 (sustainable consumption and production), and SDG15 (sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems) – have extensive and enumerable links to natural resource use, underlining the need for integrative approaches.
If implemented in ways that overlook critical interlinkages, the SDGs may well risk a further acceleration of natural resource demand and degradation, ensuing numerous knock-on effects on individuals, communities, businesses and societies – and the ecosystems on which all depend. Similarly, we perceive this nexus handbook to be connected to topics such as resource efficiency, circular economy, and many others (Bleischwitz, Welfens, Zhang 2011) – all grappling with solutions aimed at more sustainable use of natural resources at different levels (micro, meso, and macro). This handbook enables readers to understand (Part I), measure (Part II), assess and model (Part III), compare political economies (Part IV), learn from applications (Part V), and upscale solutions (Part VI). The handbook’s six parts and 32 chapters are carefully organized around these aims. As a whole, the handbook seeks to combine analytical rigor with attempts to be transformative – i.e. shaping transformations towards sustainability – in realms of research and knowledge-making, as well as practice and implementation.
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