In a non-stationary world, with intertwined resource systems, uncertain externalities, and high future stakes, it is essential that we better understand the existing interconnections across different resource systems and integrate them into resource allocation decision-making processes. Doing so will play an important role in improving our ability to develop long-term, sustainable resource allocation strategies and enable us to move away from reactive, short-term tactics.
Water, energy, and food securities are major constituents of a healthy economy; the ability to understand how the three resource systems interact, and the interdependencies between them, will be a key to the development of such an economy.
Decision-makers currently lack the proper tools to assess the implications of different resource allocation strategies; this is where modeling those interactions and communicating them through proper assessments and communication tools can be a key to facilitating that process. A large number of tools address different angles of this nexus and need to be built upon in order to properly assess current and future resource hotspots.
The main purpose of this contribution is to offer a guiding 7-Question Framework which helps in understanding, modeling, and assessing a resource nexus hotspot. This framework includes questions on system definition, stakeholder identification, scale, assessment criteria, communication, and data needs. While “modeling nexus issues” follows a common, guiding, holistic and cross-sectoral approach, localizing and contextualizing the issue in hand will be a key to assess trade-offs at a given scale.
After introducing the framework, three different case studies are demonstrated. The cases studies address three critical perspectives: water security focus, energy security focus, and food security focus; and at different scales (national, state, and international levels). They demonstrate that there is no one-size-fits-all model to address water-energy-food (WEF) related issues. The case studies will highlight how building on a common platform and nexus philosophy, three different models are created to respond to different critical questions.