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Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems

Climate Change, Social Changes, Technological Development

Ed. by Inostroza, Luis / Fürst, Christine

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Connecting cities and their environments: Harnessing the water-energy-food nexus for sustainable urban development

Arthur Chan
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  • International Development Research Centre (Ottawa, Canada) - Climate Change and Water Program, Canada
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Published Online: 2015-12-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2015-0017


Thousands of years of development have made the production and consumption of water, energy, and food for urban environments more complex. While the rise of cities has fostered social and economic progress, the accompanying environmental pressures threaten to undermine these benefits. The compounding effects of climate change, habitat loss, pollution, overexploitation (in addition to financial constraints) make the individual management of these three vital resources incompatible with rapidly growing populations and resource-intensive lifestyles. Nexus thinking is a critical tool to capture opportunities for urban sustainability in both industrialised and developing cities. A nexus approach to water, energy, and food security recognises that conventional decisionmaking, strictly confined within distinct sectors, limits the sustainability of urban development. Important nexus considerations include the need to collaborate with a wide spectrum of stakeholders, and to “re-integrate” urban systems. This means recognising the opportunities coming from the interconnected nature of cities and metropolitan regions, including links with rural environments and wider biophysical dynamics.

Keywords: water-energy-food nexus; urban resilience; resource efficiency; sustainable cities; urban governance


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About the article

Received: 2014-06-24

Accepted: 2015-09-30

Published Online: 2015-12-17

Published in Print: 2015-01-01

Citation Information: Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-3669, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2015-0017.

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© 2015. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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