Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Start a 14-Day Trial for You or Your Team.

Learn More →

What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging Resource Governance Concept

What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging... SYSTEMATIC REVIEW published: 30 October 2018 doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00128 What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging Resource Governance Concept Viviana Wiegleb* and Antje Bruns Governance and Sustainability Lab, Faculty of Regional and Environmental Sciences, Trier University, Trier, Germany In the context of accelerated global socio-environmental change, the Water-Energy-Food Nexus has received increasing attention within science and international politics by promoting integrated resource governance. This study explores the scientific nexus debates from a discourse analytical perspective to reveal knowledge and power Edited by: Jill A. Engel-Cox, relations as well as geographical settings of nexus research. We also investigate National Renewable Energy approaches to socio-nature relations that influence nexus research and subsequent Laboratory (DOE), United States political implications. Our findings suggest that the leading nexus discourse is dominated Reviewed by: by natural scientific perspectives and a neo-Malthusian framing of environmental Richard Meissner, Council for Scientific and Industrial challenges. Accordingly, the promoted cross-sectoral nexus approach to resource Research (CSIR), South Africa governance emphasizes efficiency, security, future sustainability, and poverty reduction. Simon P. Meisch, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Water, energy, and food are conceived as global trade goods that require close Studies, Germany monitoring, management and control, to be achieved via quantitative assessments and *Correspondence: technological interventions. Within the less visible discourse, social scientific perspectives Viviana Wiegleb engage with the social, political, and normative elements of the Water-Energy-Food wiegleb@uni-trier.de Nexus. These perspectives criticize the dominant nexus representation for its managerial, Specialty section: neoliberal, and utilitarian approach to resource governance. The managerial framing is This article was submitted to critiqued for masking power relations and social inequalities, while alternative framings Freshwater Science, a section of the journal acknowledge the political nature of resource governance and socio-nature relations. Frontiers in Environmental Science The spatial dimensions of the nexus debate are also discussed. Notably, the nexus is Received: 13 July 2018 largely shaped by western knowledge, yet applied mainly in specific regions of the Global Accepted: 10 October 2018 Published: 30 October 2018 South. In order for the nexus to achieve integrative solutions for sustainability, the debate Citation: needs to overcome its current discursive and spatial separations. To this end, we need Wiegleb V and Bruns A (2018) What Is to engage more closely with alternative nexus discourses, embrace epistemic pluralism Driving the Water-Energy-Food and encourage multi-perspective debates about the socio-nature relations we actually Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging Resource intend to promote. Governance Concept. Front. Environ. Sci. 6:128. Keywords: discourse analysis, geography of knowledge, resource governance, socio-nature relations, doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00128 sustainability Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 1 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? INTRODUCTION acts as governance concept, aiming to integrate resource sectors across policies and infrastructures to promote sustainability and In recent years, the Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach better resource allocation (e.g., Rasul, 2014; Laurentiis et al., 2016; has attracted growing attention within international politics, Karan et al., 2018). To achieve these goals, the nexus approach academia and other areas of society. Originally, the concept highlights the need for technological innovations, recycling, emerged within the realms of international politics under the and the reduction of waste. Moreover, the concept advertises influence of the World Economic Forum and related policy knowledge integration via inter- and transdisciplinary research makers. Cairns and Krzywoszynska (2016), for instance, trace approaches and collaborative decision-making (e.g., Ringler et al., the nexus back to the year 2008, where business leaders of 2013; Hernandez et al., 2014; Allouche et al., 2015; Conway et al., the World Economic Forum issued a call to engage with 2015; Laurentiis et al., 2016). nexus issues between economic growth and water, energy, Though international guiding concepts, like the Water- food resource systems. The Bonn2011 Nexus conference marks Energy-Food Nexus, may become very influential in shaping an additional milestone, which gained prominence through policy programs, and scientific funding schemes, critical its influential background paper: “Understanding the Nexus: engagement with these concepts is often limited or neglected. Background paper for the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference” (Hoff, Within the leading political and (natural) scientific debates, 2011). The World Economic Forum, simultaneously, published the nexus is rarely questioned but described as neutral and another leading report on “Water-Security: The Water-Food- apolitical concept. This represents an important misconception, Energy -Climate Nexus” (World Economic Forum). By arguing as “[i]nfluential concepts in policy making are not merely neutral that an integrative approach to water, energy and food may or scientific; they do not emerge by chance but, rather, are the enhance resource security, efficiency, poverty reduction and emanation of complex webs of interests, ideologies, and power” better resource governance across sectors, these documents set (Molle, 2008: p. 132). Hence, we deem it necessary to critically the tone for future debates. investigate the nexus approach before further endorsing it as The overarching nexus debate is shaped by many different analytical or resource governance framework. Timely reflexivity societal domains and the significant influence of development is important, as opening up such concepts to critical investigation actors. Hence, a large part of the nexus literature consists of can be very difficult, once they are established as social, political policy reports, position papers, working papers or strategy or scientific facts. The ambiguity of concepts like the nexus make documents compiled by international agencies, national them susceptible to processes of appropriation by powerful actors ministries, NGOs, consultancies, transdisciplinary networks, to suit particular agendas (Cairns and Krzywoszynska, 2016). or financial institutions like the World Bank. As the Water- While critical investigation of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Energy-Food Nexus debate gains traction, it progressively concept is limited, several studies exist that review the nexus influences international development and resource governance from a social scientific perspective. These contributions mainly approaches. The United Nations (UN) and EU Commission, challenge the nexus concept for neglecting socio-political aspects for instance, seek to adopt a nexus perspective to implement of resource use and allocation. They argue that the prevailing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; The Nexus technical-managerial nexus framing is inadequate for addressing Dialogue Programme, 2015). The nexus also acts as international social aspects like poverty reduction, distributional justice, or development agenda, which diffuses into regional policy power asymmetries in resource governance (e.g., Allouche et al., programs across multiple scales, mainly from north to south 2015; Benson et al., 2015; Foran, 2015; Leese and Meisch, (Middleton et al., 2015). International non-governmental 2015; Middleton et al., 2015; Mdee, 2017). Although this organizations such as IUCN and WWF highlight the need for critical research provides important insights into actor interests a nexus approach to achieve resource security (IUCN, 2013; and power relations, most of these papers are conceptual or WWF and SAB Miller, 2014). Although research organizations theoretical in nature. Empirical studies exist but often focus on like the Stockholm Environment Institute were involved in particular aspects of the nexus or specific geographical locations, organizing the Bonn2011 Nexus conference, the concept only which hinders an overarching generalization of research results. later became the focus of scientific investigation. Consequently, Mdee (2017), for instance, analyzes two case studies in Tanzania various academic nexus platforms emerged, as the nexus frames and concludes that, here, the nexus does not sufficiently research agendas and provides growing funding opportunities disaggregate the political nature of water allocation. Cairns for scientists. and Krzywoszynska (2016) identify the nexus as contested Despite this growing prominence, the nexus in its nascent “buzzword” (ibid. p. 164) but solely focus on UK natural resource form is still ambiguous and serves multiple purposes. First, debates, which may differ from international ones. it is employed as analytical perspective to describe and In order to address these shortcomings, we investigate better understand the interlinkages between water, energy, and the academic nexus debate from a meta-level perspective. To food resource systems (e.g., El Gafy et al., 2017; Martinez- overcome the methodological restrictions of most social scientific Hernandez et al., 2017). Second, it serves as boundary concept nexus research, we also aim to provide a strong empirical to facilitate discussion between the academia and politics foundation for our argument. To reveal overarching knowledge concerning resource governance and sustainable development and power relations, we take a discourse analytical approach (e.g., Bazilian et al., 2011; Hernandez et al., 2014; Abdullaev and to study the international scientific nexus debates. First, we Rakhmatullaev, 2016; Brouwer et al., 2018). Third, the nexus explore various discursive formations of the WEF-Nexus. Can Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 2 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? we identify dominant or marginalized discourses and, if so, what able to shift marginalized positions closer to the center of knowledge and power relations are at work? This relates to the attention in order to promote alternative interpretations or questions of who produces nexus knowledge and what knowledge policy options (Feindt and Oels, 2005; Glasze and Mattissek, is seen as more legitimate or authoritarian. We also focus on 2015). the geographical context of these knowledge and power relations In this article, we first outline our analytical framework and by analyzing the stem of nexus knowledge and its destination. discourse theoretical approach. In the following sections, we Second, we examine central discursive elements of the scientific present our research methodology and results. We then discuss WEF-Nexus by referring to the way environmental problems our findings in terms of discursive formations, elements, and are framed and what solutions are legitimized to solve these context of nexus research. The article concludes with some wider problems. Are there different socio-nature relations shaping implications and reflections on our findings. nexus discourses and what (political) implications emerge from this? Addressing these questions is important, as certain ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK understandings of environmental issues gain dominance and emerge as truths through specific knowledge and power Discourse analysis presents a well-established interpretative effects (Hajer, 1995; see section Analytical Framework). The research approach within social sciences and human geography. way environmental problems are defined is important for The primary aim of social scientific discourse analysis is to how these problems are dealt with politically. Particular identify ideas, concepts and categorizations through which we understanding of environmental challenges may also reflect understand and give meaning to the world (Waitt, 2010). For in physical or material effects (Feindt and Oels, 2005). In this the purpose of this paper, we define these ideas, concepts sense, academia plays an important part, as science currently and categorizations as discourses that arise from a particular holds the “monopoly on knowledge claims” (Hajer, 1995: social context (Hajer, 1995). Discourse analysis in geography p. 281) in western societies. Science is actively engaged in questions how spatially or environmentally relevant concepts shaping ideas, concepts and categorizations that have significant are established through language and social practices. Through political implications. While the nexus debate is influenced discourse analysis, geographical notions like “the Orient” (Said, by many different sectors, science plays a prominent role in 1978) or “national borders” (Newman, 2000) are identified defining and legitimizing the nexus as a resource governance as discursive entities that shape our social realities (beliefs, concept to be implemented by policy makers. We focus on values, norms, practices) and vice versa. Who is involved in the analyzing the scientific nexus discourse, as scientists are also constitution of these ideas, concepts and categorizations? What increasingly called upon as experts in environmental governance meaning is associated with them for what purpose? What social processes, where they play an important (political) part (Castree, and spatial effects result from these particular discourses and who 2015). During the Bonn2011 Nexus conference, for instance, is to be addressed? international scientists and research organizations like the Discourse theory is based on the assumption that discourses Stockholm Environment Institute took very active roles. In this manifest in talk, texts, social practices and institutional settings. sense, the nexus represents a hybrid concept, which renders the A discourse theoretical perspective emphasizes that social and distinction between scientific and non-scientific contributions natural phenomena can only be observed, perceived, and difficult. interpreted through language, texts, and within discourses This hybridization becomes particularly obvious in global (Dingler, 2005). Language and texts are not seen as a neutral environmental politics, where the boundaries between science medium through which information, events or reality are and non-science are increasingly blurred (e.g., Demeritt, communicated in a transparent way. Instead, language, and 2001; Grundmann, 2007).When regarding the nexus as a texts are argued to form social meaning and establish social hybrid, the conventional view of science as independent facts (Tonkiss, 2004). From a discourse theoretical standpoint, of the political or ideological realm becomes untenable. it is impossible to access reality directly in an objective and Science does not provide neutral or objective evidence for neutral way, as the perception of reality always takes place within rational decision-making. Instead, we need to recognize a discursive framework (Dingler, 2005). However, discourse the dynamic interactions or intrinsic connections between theory does not minimize the existence of physical processes. knowledge production and decision-making (Grundmann, Instead, environmental issues like climate change or the WEF- 2007; Wesselink et al., 2013; Benessia and Funtowicz, 2016). Nexus are established as social facts through expert language, Amidst this difficult distinction, we demarcate the scientific specific concepts and research practices. Environmental issues contributions to the nexus debate by focusing our analysis are interpreted as social and discursive entities despite referring exclusively on peer reviewed journal articles (see section to apparently natural phenomena (Feindt and Oels, 2005). Research Methodology). A discourse analysis of the academic According to Foucauldian discourse theory, the establishment literature allows us to identify the underlying socio-political of discursive entities as social facts is deeply embedded in socio- and geographical contexts of nexus research, different discursive temporal contexts. Ideas that become dominant common-sense formations, competing interpretations of environmental issues knowledge are (re)produced, maintained and circulated within and promoted solutions to these problems. By exposing these social and institutional settings, while alternative interpretations discursive formations and elements, discourse analysis is of the world are marginalized (Waitt, 2010). Discourse analysis Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 3 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? situates and interprets environmental accounts within their RESEARCH METHODOLOGY historical, cultural, and political settings instead of treating Data Selection and Corpus Compilation them as universally true knowledge claims (Dingler, 2005; Discourse analysis is based on social scientific approaches, as Hajer and Versteeg, 2005). From a discourse theoretical textual data are studied via qualitative research methods within perspective, environmental issues are not seen as naturally given their social, historical and geographical context (Tonkiss, 2004). problems but, rather, as being shaped by multiple competing During discourse analysis, linguistic and textual data gather in interpretations (Feindt and Oels, 2005). By establishing the WEF- large text corpora that are compiled in accordance to selection Nexus as environmental governance concept various actors are criteria reflecting the research goal (Waitt, 2010; Keller, 2013). As likely to hold different perceptions of what the problem really we aim to analyze the scientific nexus discourse, we assorted our is and what solutions are to be legitimized (Hajer, 1995). These text corpus in line with criteria allowing us to detect discursive struggles about the correct interpretation of environmental issues structures within the academic nexus literature (Table 1). Our are intrinsic to environmental discourses or political conflict and final text corpus comprises 352 academic documents which were can be revealed through discourse analysis (Feindt and Oels, subjected to further analysis (see Table S1). 2005). Scientific publications for our corpus were selected from Discourse analysis in the realms of environmental politics the Web of Science online database (last accessed 17.04.2018). pursues several objectives. First, discourse analysis aims to International scientific discourses manifest in English and identify why a particular understanding of environmental various text formats including peer-reviewed articles, conference issues gains dominance, while other understandings are materials, scientific books, dissertations or working papers, which discredited. Hence, environmental discourse analysis helps to can all be studies as data (Keller, 2013). However, to ensure reveal multiple competing interpretations of environmental data coherence, comparability and quality we only included peer- issues and their manifestation within leading or marginalized reviewed articles, proceeding papers and special issue editorial discourses. Discourse analysis may reveal the intrinsically contributions into our text corpus. political nature of what is presented as apolitical and objectively The Web of Science online database was searched with a true knowledge claims (Hajer, 1995; Feindt and Oels, 2005). combination of the keywords water, energy, food and nexus. For instance, although the WEF-Nexus is often presented as These keywords were selected, as the Water-Energy-Food Nexus “unarguably true” (Cairns and Krzywoszynska, 2016: p. 166), a designation is dominant within current scientific debates, discourse analytical approach to the nexus may expose political although multiple other names exist. These include for example: dynamics and several competing interpretations. Second, the Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus (Hoff, 2011), the discourse analysis closely engages with knowledge production water-energy nexus (Siddiqi and Anadon, 2011) or the water- and power effects within discourses. Competing interpretations food-energy-climate nexus (Beck and Walker, 2013). By focusing of environmental issues are often based on different forms of explicitly on these content-related keywords, we sought to knowledge. When a particular understanding of environmental guarantee the data’s immediate relevance for our research topic. issues gains dominance, its associated form of knowledge Furthermore, comparative searches including the additional production is legitimized as more authoritative, while other ways keywords climate or security did not result in a significantly of knowing are sidelined (Hajer, 1995; Waitt, 2010). According to different selection of documents. discourse theory, particular environmental accounts and forms The selection of texts was conducted with the Web of Science of knowledge are established as dominant and more legitimate database, as it identifies scientific peer-reviewed material, while by exercising power within discourses (Dingler, 2005). For also allowing a systematic literature review and data analysis. instance, a discourse perspective can illustrate how dominant Comparative searches with Google Scholar led to a similar interpretations of the nexus emerge from particular knowledge selection of scientific publications but contained additional text and power relations that operate within the nexus discourse. The way environmental issues are constituted through formats such as book chapters, working papers, technical reports and student thesis that did not meet our selection criteria. discourses, knowledge and power relations shapes if and how Although we compiled our text corpus in a controlled and a problem is dealt with politically. The interpretation of transparent way, several limitations are associated with this environmental issues that gains dominance enables or constrains approach. First, the Web of Science database is not free of particular policy options. It also defines the range of actors that bias and cannot represent a complete citation search or the are legitimized for the resolution of these issues. Hence, by entire range of scientific discourses within alternative text revealing marginalized discourse, discourse analysis may offer formats. Social sciences and humanities are also less likely alternative policy options and solutions. Apart from shaping to publish in peer-reviewed journals, which could result in political action, environmental discourses also manifest in an unintentional bias toward natural sciences. Older journals material and physical effects, as they are closely linked with social and scientific contributions are potentially underrepresented practices, institutional capacities and technologies (Feindt and Oels, 2005). within the Web of Science database. By focusing solely on contributions in English, we are also unable to display Our analytical approach is based on the Sociology of discourses taking place in other languages. Despite these Knowledge Approach to Discourse (Keller, 2005, 2011, 2013), limitations, we argue that the controlled compilation of our which combines Foucauldian discourse theory with the Peter extensive text corpus allows us to reconstruct discursive Berger and Thomas Luckmann sociology of knowledge tradition. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 4 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? TABLE 1 | Criteria guiding the selection of documents for the overall text corpus. Selection criteria Justification Database Web of Science Core Collection WoS mainly comprises scientific text formats (Indexes = SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, Allows systematic literature review and analysis of results A&HCI, ESCI) Guarantees comparability of text formats within the final corpus Comparative Google Scholar searches did not result in a significantly different selection of scientific texts Timeframe All years No time limitation imposed on the literature search, in order to map the emergence and historical development of the WEF-Nexus discourse Language English Research focus on the international scientific nexus discourses, which is held in English. Restriction to one language to ensure data comparability and coherence during qualitative analysis Keywords searched Water; energy; food; nexus Content-related selection of keywords based on our research goal to identify scientific discourses around the WEF-Nexus. Comparative searches with the additional keywords security or climate did not result in a significantly different selection of documents Document types included Peer-reviewed articles; proceedings Selection of documents according to scientific standards to ensure data (total 352) papers; special issue editorial material comparability and coherence formations and draw overarching conclusions on nexus procedures. First, we identified the number of publications over discourses. time to trace the emergence and historical development of Discourse analysis presents an interpretative research nexus discourses. Second, the most frequent article keywords approach during which a justified selection of texts or text and journals were extracted to investigate scientific communities, extracts is analyzed in more detail. The selection of data for research approaches and thematic priorities around the nexus. this in-depth analysis is an open and criteria-driven process, Third, the location of nexus case-studies was derived from which consolidates the corpus material to represent the range article keywords and texts themselves. This geographical focus of of discourses and their structures. The selected texts need to nexus research was then opposed to the location of knowledge traverse and record the breadth of the entire corpus material production in terms of authors’ countries of work (affiliation). in a controlled way (Keller, 2013). Following these guidelines, For the in-depth analysis of our 27 selected papers, we we initially selected 22 documents from our corpus for an in employed the methodological suggestions provided by Keller depth analysis. These documents were chosen to outline the (2013) and his Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse. development of the scientific WEF-Nexus discourse(s) over As per Keller (2013), our analysis occurred along two lines, time, illustrate the discursive structures and comprise major namely the material or context dimension and a content-based thematic priorities. Hence, we selected the 10 most cited articles interpretative analysis. The analysis of both dimensions was and 12 additional texts, aiming to proportionally represent conducted via coding, commentaries and memos within the the distribution of publication years and most common article qualitative software ATLAS.Ti. keywords within our corpus (see Table S1). However, by The interpretative analysis of our 27 selected papers was focusing on the most cited documents, a bias emerges, as older conducted in an open and iterative process that was closely publications are cited more often. Focusing on most common linked to our data but also informed by our research goal (Keller, article keywords will most likely result in a selection of texts that 2013). Several questions guided our initial evaluation including: represent the dominant discourses. To overcome this bias and What key ideas, concepts, categories and classifications mobilized to also portray alternative or marginalizes nexus discourses, 5 in the documents (Waitt, 2010)? What re-occurring themes, additional texts were subjected to an in-depth analysis. These 5 images and metaphors cluster around the nexus (Tonkiss, 2004)? texts were selected from the Water Alternatives journal, which Following this initial evaluation, we followed the three stages presents one of the very few journals in our text corpus diverging suggested by Keller (2013) for an interpretative dissection of text from the mainstream nexus approach by taking a very critical passages. These three stages comprise an in-depth analysis of perspective. (i) interpretative schemes, (ii) phenomenal structure, and (iii) narrative structures: Data Analysis i. Interpretative schemes As mentioned above, discourse analysis is concerned with what is Interpretative frames are considered socially and historically being said as well as the social, historical and geographical context embedded devices for interpreting events and deriving possible in which things are being said (Hajer, 1995). Hence, our data actions. According to Keller (2013), for instance, the notion of analysis occurred in two main steps as shown in Figure 1. risk presents an overarching modern frame which structures the To gain a more detailed understanding of the social, historical perception and action toward certain phenomena like climate and geographical context of WEF-Nexus discourses, the overall change. text corpus (352 publications) was subjected to several analytical Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 5 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? FIGURE 1 | Different steps of data analysis based on Keller (2013). ii. Phenomenal structure role (The Nexus Dialogue Programme, 2015). Naturally, water, energy and food present the most frequent article keywords The phenomenal structure refers to the way phenomena like within our text corpus. Additional thematic priorities around the WEF-nexus are constituted within discourses in terms the nexus include sustainability, sustainable development, food of key themes, problem structure, legitimization of certain security, agriculture, bioenergy, climate change, IWRM, and actions and practices to deal with particular phenomena (Keller, water resources (Figure 2). 2013). Concretely, our analysis revolved around interpretations, The most prevalent journals in our text corpus are presented metaphors, and normative claims concerning the nexus concept, in Table 2. Regarding the scope and topics of these journals, problem and solution structures as well as conceptualizations of dominant research approaches and topics clustering around socio-environmental relations. the nexus become apparent. Most commonly, journals focus explicitly on resource management, environmental iii. Narratives science topics, technology and sustainable development. Narratives are story-lines that tie together various discursive Although some journals like Environmental Science & Policy, elements into a coherent structure to explain who is doing Water International, the International Journal of Water what and why. According to Hajer (1995), narratives combine Resources Development or Sustainability present themselves elements from different domains to provide actors with a set as interdisciplinary platforms that purposefully include social of symbolic reference that suggest a common understanding. and political aspects, we argue that Water Alternatives portrays These may be stories of progress, apocalypse, causalities, one of the very few critical social scientific journal in Table 2 responsibilities, or dangers (Keller, 2013). and our overall text corpus. Unlike other journals, Water The material and context dimension was investigated with a Alternative explicitly challenges the narrow framing of and focus on the role of particular actors within discourses, relations technical approach to water. The journal aims to focus more between actors, intended audiences and research approaches on the political dimensions of water resources development (e.g., natural or social sciences). By analyzing this material and through constructive critiques and alternative approaches context dimension of discourses, we can identify the social (Water Alternatives Journal, 2018). dynamics carried into the production of knowledge and texts The map presented in Figure 3 illustrates the geographical (Waitt, 2010). context of nexus research by comparing the places of Finally, results from our interpretative analysis and material nexus knowledge production to the location of nexus case- dimension were aggregated into general statements about the studies. Regarding individual countries and their frequency of discourses present in the overall corpus (Keller, 2013). occurrence, we detect that nexus knowledge is mainly produced in developed industrial countries of the Global North. Contrary RESULTS to this, the nexus is mainly applied and researched in developing countries of the Global South with a strong focus on South-East Social, Historical, and Geographical Asia. Context of Nexus Discourses Since 2009, research interest in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus has increased almost exponentially (Figure 2) with the sharpest Interpretative Analysis rise in the number of publications occurring between 2014 Based on our in-depth analysis, we identified two major and 2015. We relate this increase to the adoption of the discursive formations around the Water-Energy-Food Nexus SDGs in 2015, in which the nexus is to play an important which are characterized by different interpretative schemes, Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 6 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? FIGURE 2 | Number of publications over time and article keywords with a count higher than or equal to 10 (last accessed 17.04.2018). phenomenal structures, narratives and material context. population growth, increasing standard of living, urbanization Although it may prove difficult to clearly assign individual and environmental degradation. Climate change is interpreted documents to specific discourses, we associate 21 papers with the as aggravating this situation also in terms of poverty and lack leading nexus discourse, while only 6 constitute an alternative of access to resources. In the context of this worsening global formation. The main features of each discourse are presented resource crisis, the isolated development of water, energy, and below. food nurtures inefficient resource use and allocation. The sectoral approach to management practices, policies and institutional Most Influential Nexus Discourse settings concerning water, energy and food is seen as major Based on our in-depth analysis of 21 papers, we derived issue. Economic aspects are presented as additional challenge. overarching conclusions about the leading nexus discourse. Inefficient water use in agriculture, for example, is related to “[l]ow subsidized tariffs” (Abdullaev and Rakhmatullaev, 2016: i. Interpretative schemes p. 6) and the pricing of water below market value. Missing expert Within the leading nexus discourse, we identified interwoven knowledge and data on the interconnections between water, interpretative schemes. These include risk and security, an energy and food systems is also seen as major disadvantage. economic rationale and an overarching ecological modernization Related to these issues, the primary goals is to achieve frame shaped by techno-scientific approaches. The security and global resource security through an integrative nexus approach risk frame is shaped by the notion of resource scarcity posing a to water, energy and food. Resource demand needs to be risk to the global economy or humanity as a whole. Consequently, regulated, resource use optimized and consumption rendered resources like water, energy and food need to be securitized. For more efficient. Water, energy and food policies, programs, example, Bazilian et al. (2011) state that water, energy and food and institutions are to be managed in a cooperative cross- “all have deep security issues as they are fundamental to the sectoral way to advance sustainable development. As part of functioning of society” (ibid. p. 2). The techno-scientific rationale a nexus framework, resource use efficiency and optimization and ecological modernization frame aim to solve sustainability are achieved mainly via technological innovations and market issues by increasing resource use efficiency via technological and instruments. Market mechanisms, in this case, often relate scientific innovations. The economic rationale conceptualizes to water and energy pricing signals. For example, misguided and frames the nexus in terms of resource demand, supply, water and energy subsidies are to be eliminated, in order to consumption, input, output, trade-offs, volatility spill-overs, “introduce better pricing signals” (Bazilian et al., 2011: p. 4) and value chains, and economic efficiency. to encourage farmers to “invest in a more efficient irrigation technology” (Berardy and Chester, 2017: p. 8). Problems ii. Phenomenal structure of access and distribution of resources are solved primarily Problem descriptions and promoted solutions within the via policy integration, management and planning. To solve leading discourse are strongly related to the interpretative resource challenges in an integrative nexus approach, inter- and schemes mentioned above. Problems are framed prominently transdisciplinary research is promoted. in terms of global resource scarcity, constrains and over- The leading discourse is characterized by specific themes and ideas clustering around the nexus. First, the WEF-Nexus exploitation. Global water, energy, and food resources are argued to become increasingly scarce in response to economic and is employed as analytical concept to describe the interactions Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 7 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? TABLE 2 | Journals within the overall text corpus with a count higher than or equal to 10. Journals Nr. of publications in Journal scope and topics overall text corpus Water 21 Water science and technology; ecology; water resources management; water governance; ISSN 2073-4441 hydrology; hydraulics; water scarcity; flood risk; water quality Applied Energy 17 Energy conversion and conservation; optimization of energy processes; mitigation energy ISSN 0306-2619 pollutants; sustainable energy; innovative technologies; modeling and forecasting; energy conservation strategies Environmental Science & Policy 15 Interdisciplinary research of policy relevance on environmental issues; climate change; ISSN: 14629011 biodiversity; environmental pollution and wastes; production; transport; consumption; growth; demographic changes; well-being; health Water International 15 Journal of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA), founded for the sustainable ISSN: 0250-8060 management of water resources around the world International Journal of Water Resources 13 Interdisciplinary policy and practice-oriented journal that covers all aspects of water resources; Development water resources and their economic, financial, social and environmental-related impacts; ISSN: 0790-0627 interdependences and inter-linkages between the water and the agricultural, energy, industrial and health sectors in both developed and developing countries Journal of Cleaner Production 13 Focusing on cleaner production, environmental, and sustainability research and practice; ISSN: 0959-6526 cleaner production and technical processes; sustainable development; sustainable consumption; environmental sustainability assessment; sustainable products and services Environmental Science and Technology 11 Aim is to provide authoritative source of information for professionals in a wide range of (Letters) environmental disciplines; advances, trends and challenges in environmental science, ISSN: 0013-936X technology and policy Sustainability 11 Forum for studies related to sustainability, experimental and theoretical research relating to ISSN 2071-1050 natural sciences, social sciences and humanities; scientific predictions and impact assessments of global change and development; air pollution and climate change; water pollution and sanitation; misuse of land; desertification and drought; industrial development and energy crisis Advances in Water Resources 10 Theoretical, computational, or experimental approaches used to advance fundamental ISSN: 0309-1708 understanding of surface or subsurface water resources systems or the interaction between these systems; surface and subsurface hydrology; hydrodynamics and hydrometerology; multiphase transport phenomena; modeling fluids Environmental Progress & Sustainable 10 American Institute of Chemical Engineers reporting on critical issues of the environment, Energy including remediation and treatment of solid or aqueous wastes, air pollution, sustainability, and ISSN: 1944-7450 sustainable energy; alternate energy technologies; biofuels; biorefineries Water Alternatives 10 Aim is to challenge narrow framing of water problems and technical and engineering approach ISSN 1965-0175 to water; focus more on political dimension of water resources development and management at all scales; journal is to provide space for creative and free thinking on water, fostering debate, eliciting innovative alternatives, promoting original analyses and constructive critiques between water, energy and food. Interlinkages between water, critical points are only touched upon within the dominant energy, and food are conceptualized within a coupled systems discourse. approach characterized by feedbacks and interdependencies. The As shown in our Analytical Framework, discourses dominant perspective argues that a nexus approach will enable (re)produce particular nature-society relations. Within the us to better understand or assess the complex dynamics between leading nexus discourse, for instance, the environment is water, energy and food resource systems. Second, the WEF- addressed in a command and control approach that follows Nexus is supposed to act as “boundary concept” (Abdullaev a utilitarian logic and sees nature as economic resource. and Rakhmatullaev, 2016: p. 1) between science and policy. Environmental aspects need to be monitored and controlled Indeed, authors often state that nexus research should support for human use and benefit. Karan et al. (2018), for instance, decision-making to allocate increasingly limited resources more state that “since dollars are the only measure common to food, effectively. Third, the WEF-Nexus is directly promoted as energy, and water components, the changes in the sustainability emerging resource governance concept to achieve and monitor are formulated in terms of dollars” (ibid. p.20). Ringler et al. sustainable development. From this leading perspective, the (2013) argue that “natural resources are beginning to limit, to nexus is to reduce competition over resources, eliminate trade- a substantial degree, economic growth and human well-being offs, and maximize synergies between sectors. As the nexus goals” (ibid. p. 617). Nature and society are predominantly concept allows to implement more efficient infrastructure and conceptualized as two distinctly separate spheres; an approach environmental policies, increasing global demand for water, which is often referred to as Cartesian dualism (Dingler, 2005). energy, and food resource can be managed more effectively. This Cartesian dualism manifests in the coupled-systems The WEF-Nexus concept itself is rarely questioned and perspective which is typical for the dominant nexus approach. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 8 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? FIGURE 3 | Geographical focus of nexus research and spaces of nexus knowledge production. Map based on places with equal or more than 10 counts. iii. Narratives promises to maximize synergies between resource systems, reduce trade-offs, optimize resource use, help us allocate These various discursive elements consolidate into a dominant limiting resources more effectively and promote sustainable nexus narrative based on apocalyptic story-lines. According development. to this narrative, multiple global crises cumulate in resource scarcity that poses an ultimate threat to human existence. Researchers and decision-makers are called upon to urgently Alternative and Marginalized Nexus Discourse adopt an integrative approach to water, energy and food Based on our in-depth analysis of 6 papers, we derived systems. Only a nexus approach, so the story goes, will overarching conclusions about the alternative or marginalized help us prevent a global catastrophe. A nexus approach nexus discourse. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 9 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? i. Interpretative schemes are embedded within their historical context and prevalent political discourses. This context, however, is often neglected. Contrary to the leading discourse, the alternative nexus discourse For example, the dominant natural scientific nexus approach is characterized by a social constructivist interpretative scheme. inadequately addresses the “social, productive and cultural For example, authors employ a “constructivist reading of values” (Mdee, 2017: p. 103) associated with resources like water. security” (Leese and Meisch, 2015: p. 700). Others highlight the The reason for this disregard is argued to result from a lack of “constructed and political nature of global resource scarcity” critical social sciences conceptualizations. By ignoring the social (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 616). This indicates that nexus aspects dimensions, “resource linkages remain thinly described and like “global resource scarcity” are not seen as objectively true under-theorized” (Foran, 2015: p. 656). Finally, the integration facts. Instead, it is argued that these notions are embedded of water, energy, and food sectors itself is seen as problematic. in wider socio-political contexts, political dynamics, and that It is suggested to compare the nexus to existing governance they are shaped by various actors and interests. As part of frameworks before endorsing it as new paradigm. From this this social constructivist perspective, authors focus on nexus alternative perspective, it remains questionable, whether the language, aim to “disaggregate narratives of water scarcity” nexus presents anything new, or may provide added value for (Mdee, 2017: p. 100) or analyze different interpretations of the resource governance. nexus amongst international actors. These social constructivist To overcome these challenges, an alternative nexus framing approaches emphasize the “particular policy settings, [. . . ] arenas is suggested that highlights the socio-political dimension of power and contestation” (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 616) of resource governance. This extended nexus approach surrounding the nexus approach. recognizes the political nature of decisions concerning resource use and allocation. A more in-depth political analysis may ii. Phenomenal structure be required to understand different assumptions already Within this alternative discourse, the dominant techno-scientific embedded in policy. This political analysis may also reveal nexus framing is defined as overarching problem. A primary the political nature of different narratives surrounding the critique focuses on the exclusion of socio-political dimensions nexus (e.g., scarcity). A more explicit focus on the socio- within the leading discourse. It is argued that decisions political dimensions will illuminate powerful interest and concerning resources like water, energy, and food are not power asymmetries concerning the re-allocation of resources. neutral but highly political. The allocation and distribution Researchers need to pay closer attention to the politicized of resources take place within areas of unequal power and relationship between water, energy, and food governance often lack transparency or public participation. For instance, systems in addition to the socio-political and historical Allouche et al. (2015) argue that the framing of the nexus as context of nexus narratives. For instance, the alternative technical issue actively “hides its politics” (ibid. p. 610). By nexus also “recognizes that global priorities may not reflect neglecting socio-political aspects, the current nexus framing local concerns” (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 618). A political may further powerful interests, and dominant worldviews. perspective allows to assess whether the nexus centralizes or Powerful actors may easily adopt and appropriate the nexus to de-centralizes control and decision-making, reduce or increase safeguard their interests, consolidate pre-established positions inequality. and marginalize subordinate actors. For example, framing To this end, the alternative perspective suggests to engage the nexus in terms of security creates a sense of alarm or more strongly with issues of social justice. To achieve poverty urgency and allows water, energy and food to be treated as reduction, the nexus needs to focus more on the question of: economic goods in order to address an apparent economic Whose water, energy and food use is to be secured? Whose emergency. By neglecting the politics of resource distribution water, energy, and food use is termed inefficient? How are the or scarcity, the dominant nexus risks “marginalizing those needs of the marginalized prioritized? To promote sustainable who are least likely to be able to articulate their needs” development, the nexus needs to “address poverty and redress (Mdee, 2017: p. 103). Furthermore, the current nexus is inequality and social justice” (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 619). challenged for not being sufficiently pro-poor, as its techno- Open and transparent decision-making are required to overcome managerial approach overlooks the complex dynamics between the dispossession of the poor. Resource governance needs to “financial investment, the developmental states, different classes be rendered more inclusive and collaborative. Additionally, of people, and distributional outcomes on the ground” the alternative nexus perspective highlights the need for (Foran, 2015: p. 656). interdisciplinary inquiry to foster a more holistic understanding The dominant nexus is also described as contested, of the resource nexus. The dominant approach is to be extended controversial, immature and diffuse political project that is by social scientific perspectives to value plural approaches toward “far from unified” (Benson et al., 2015: p. 759). Essentially, the nexus challenge. A social scientific perspective would focus the nexus itself is seen as socially constructed and normative more explicitly on power relations and asymmetries, implications concept. The alternative nexus discourse challenges the for people and socio-spatial patterns of inequalities. Extending “normative primacy” (Leese and Meisch, 2015: p. 696) of the the current nexus by social scientific approaches would highlight dominant nexus approach. It is argued that the nexus is not the importance of local contexts, diverse ways of knowing and shaped by objective scientific evidence. Instead, statements acknowledge the value of plural interpretations of resource issues. concerning resource scarcity or ineffective resource allocation An extended nexus “may help us think through multiple scales Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 10 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? and interfaces of competing claims for water use” (Mdee, 2017: p. Boundary Concept (Rockström et al., 2009) and the Club of 104). Rome’s Limits to Growth report (Meadows et al., 1972). Within the marginalized nexus discourses, a non-dualistic The two discourses have two distinctly separate intended view on nature and society is prevalent, as the relations audiences. Authors associated with the leading discourse aim to between society and nature are conceptualized as co-constituted. address and inform policy makers directly with their research Therefore, socio-nature need to be analyzed within their socio- results, in order to promote better and more sustainable decision- political, institutional, and historical context. making. Contrary to this, the marginalized discourse addresses authors involved in the dominant nexus framing, in order to iii. Narrative re-conceptualize the current nexus. These various discursive elements aggregate into a narrative opposing the dominant nexus story-line. The dominant techno- scientific nexus approach claims normative primacy but neglects DISCUSSION to address the highly political nature of resource governance, use and allocation. The dominant nexus framework is unable to By taking a discourse analytical approach, our findings reveal a splintered WEF-Nexus, with one leading and one counter- adequately address poverty or social justice, as power relation and asymmetries are neglected. To promote sustainable development discourse. This finding highlights that the nexus is not uniform but, rather, presents a contested concept that is shaped by and poverty eradication, the nexus needs to include social competing interpretations. According to Hajer (1995), discursive scientific political analysis and more collaborative decision- making. structures and formations are not given but emerge from a continuous struggle over discursive dominance, which indicates that the leading nexus discourse is not closer to an objective Material Dimension truth. Instead, it establishes and maintains its leading position by Two distinct research communities characterize the major exercising power in various ways (Dingler, 2005). For instance, discursive formations surrounding the Water-Energy-Food compared to the alternative approach, many more authors Nexus. The leading nexus discourse is shaped by natural are involved in (re)producing the prevalent nexus narrative. scientific, engineering and economic perspectives, which is The leading nexus discourse is also more prominent in terms mirrored in the scope and topics of the most common journals of number of publications, citations and range of scientific (Table 2). Leading nexus research focuses on assessing the journals. Within the leading approach, the nexus itself is interlinkages, trade-offs, and synergies between water, energy not questioned but handled as proven fact, while researchers and food systems via quantitative measurements and computer focus on targeting policy makers with their research findings. modeling. Papers associated with the leading nexus discourse By directly addressing policy makers, scientists contribute to are cited more often and prevail in terms of quantity. Many establishing, and promoting the nexus concept further within the more researchers and authors contribute to the dominant nexus political realm. We assume that this strategy is often successful, discourse. as researchers and research organizations are called upon as The alternative and marginalized nexus discourse is advisors when designing meetings like the Bonn2011 Nexus characterized by a critical social sciences community. The conference. alternative perspective takes a social constructivist and political Important consequences ensue from the leading nexus approach to resource management. Papers are often conceptual discourse continuously establishing and maintaining its and theoretical in nature. The marginalized discourse cumulates dominant position and supremacy over its counterpart. As shown in the Water Alternatives journal, one of the very few critical in our Analytical Framework, particular forms of knowledge journals found within our text corpus. Fewer authors shape the production are legitimized and seen as more authoritarian, alternative discourse and papers associated with this alternative depending on what understanding of environmental issues discourse are cited less frequently. They are, therefore, less gains dominance (Hajer, 1995). Based on our analysis, we influential in conceptualizing the nexus framework. showed that the leading nexus discourse is based on techno- Interestingly, both discourses refer to similar actors, events scientific research approaches. In other words, natural scientific, and institutions, which are often part of the international political economic, and engineering knowledge is seen as more legitimate sphere. Important points of reference include for example the and authoritarian when dealing with solutions surrounding United Nations (e.g., FAO), the Rio+20 summit, the MDGs and the nexus than social scientific knowledge. This observation SDGs and the IPCC platform. The World Economic Forum correlates with the powerful and persisting ideals of modernity: is identified as one of the major nexus promoters and the science and technology should merge to foster societal progress, Bonn2011 Nexus conference is often named as major milestone unlimited wealth, economic prosperity, and control over nature in developing the nexus. The Bonn conference is referred to (Benessia and Funtowicz, 2016). mostly in terms of its background paper provided by Hoff Additional knowledge and power effects reflect in the (2011). Indeed, the publications by Hoff (2011) and the World geographical context of nexus research. As shown in Figure 3, the Economic Forum (2011) present very influential texts that are nexus is shaped by western knowledge, which is then diffused or often mentioned and cited within our text corpus. The nexus is exported across the Global South with a strong focus on South- also sometimes compared to and associated with the Planetary East Asia. This observation is in line with the history of the Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 11 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? concept as traveling idea for development interventions. This is processes. This coupled-system approach to nature emerges also supported by Middleton et al. (2015), who demonstrate that from the natural scientific, economic and engineering knowledge international organizations and high-income donor countries base aiming to control, monitor and manage nature. Nature work with governments and politicians in South-East Asia to is perceived as economic resource to be used and regulated translate the nexus concept into national or regional policies. In for human benefit. Schmidt and Matthews (2018) even argue mainland South-East Asia, aid funding shifts toward the nexus, as that the nexus concept serves to financialize nature, as it was international organizations establish global nexus programs (e.g., deliberately developed by global financial networks to effect UN agencies). The projection of the nexus onto South-East Asia the transition from state-oriented to financialized approaches exemplifies the regionalization of a global policy discourse and of water development and sustainability. This conceptualization development agenda promoted through and beyond the Rio+20 of society-nature relations also underpins the security and conference or the World Economic Forum (Middleton et al., risk frame, ecological modernization approach, and economic 2015). rationale. As mentioned above, the leading nexus narrative This explicit regional focus of nexus research may have contends that population and economic growth, changing several reasons. First, the dominant discourse frames the need lifestyles, urbanization and climate change inevitably cumulate in for a nexus approach in terms of global resource scarcity a global resource scarcity that poses a threat to human existence. supposedly caused by rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles Suggested solutions for addressing these global risks are based and economic growth. Currently, these three trends coalesce in on scientific or technological innovations and market incentives South-East Asia. The geographical focus of nexus case studies aiming at allocating limited resources more effectively. largely corresponds with the region of the world exhibiting In this sense, the leading nexus discourse (re)produces a the highest density of fastest growing cities. Second, countries neo-Malthusian narrative: Giampietro (2018) even speaks of like India and China are experiencing population increases, “the return of the Neo-Malthusians” (ibid. p. 2). This neo- economic growth and rising standards of living. Resource Malthusian narrative locates the causes for resource scarcity governance debates in China or India also highlight the need in places that experience population and economic growth, for resource securitization and the coordination of competing changing lifestyles and urbanization. To date, these places are uses (e.g., Chen, 2007; Xue and Xiao, 2013). Additionally, major mainly located in countries of the Global South, which are river basins transcend countries like China, India, Myanmar, implicitly made responsible for unsustainable development and or Cambodia. The Mekong River, for instance, is extensively environmental degradation. Hence, neo-Malthusian approaches managed, researched, and appears several times within our are not neutral or objective but highly political. As Harvey (1974) text corpus. Its long lasting development history, institutional argues, neo-Malthusian approaches may have important political context and management settings to coordinate water, energy, implications by directing policies toward neo-imperialism and food supplies for rapidly growing cities may provide a abroad. Although this statement cannot be confirmed by our favorable platform for nexus research. We presume that the analysis and goes beyond the scope of this study, we illustrate specific combination of these factors contribute to South-East that nexus implementation and application strongly focuses on Asia’s particular popularity for nexus research. the Global South. In particular, the nexus is projected onto South- By embedding our geographical observations in the geography East Asia, which currently experiences population and economic of knowledge debate, we argue that the western idea of a growth, changing lifestyles, and urbanization. By interpreting single scientific rationality producing universally true knowledge environmental problems through a security and risk frame, is highly questionable, as science is spatially situated. As ecological modernization approach and an economic rationale, Livingstone (2003) illustrates: “What has been promoted as resource intensive (western) lifestyles, capitalist economies or scientific objectivity, as the ‘view from nowhere,’ turns out to utilitarian approaches to nature are not addressed as underlying have always been a ‘view from somewhere”’ (ibid. p.184). The problems. Hence, we argue that the leading nexus discourse universal claim of western nexus knowledge has to be challenged presents a typical techno-scientific approach to sustainability with regard to Middleton et al. (2015) observing that many that gears policies toward addressing environmental problems rural farmers, fishers or community groups in South-East Asia without dealing with deeper causes responsible for these do not perceive water, energy, and food as separate entities in problems (Harvey, 1974; Beck, 1992; Castree, 2001). The security the first place. This local approach to water, energy, and food and risk frame creates an additional sense of urgency for action, stands in contrast to the disciplinary fragmentation of knowledge which may legitimize far reaching interventions to control an occurring in the (western) world of scholars. apparent emergency. Inclusive decision-making and alternative Apart from these overarching knowledge and power effects, policy options may easily become suspended (Beck, 1992). our results also showthat the two discursive formations are To the contrary, the alternative nexus discourse actively shaped by distinct actor groups that conceive socio-nature engages with the political nature of resource governance, relations in very different ways. These differences are based on allocation and scarcity. Nature-society relations are and reflected in the different forms of knowledge, interpretative acknowledged to have political dimensions that must be schemes, competing problem definitions, and opposing solutions investigate within their socio-political, institutional and suggested to solve these problems. Within the leading nexus historical contexts. The alternative nexus discourse suggests discourse, nature and society are interpreted as two separate expanding the current nexus to focus more explicitly on power but coupled systems, interlinked through dynamic feedback asymmetries, social justice and the socio-political or historical Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 12 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? context of resource allocation, in order to overcome poverty and nexus will be able to promote sustainable resource governance. social inequalities. More social scientific and political analysis are Instead of creating emblematic issues shaped by techno- promoted in addition to more collaborative decision-making. scientific approaches, we wish to see a wider debate around However, this alternative nexus approach is less visible and which nature and society relations actually intend to promote influential within the overarching nexus discourse. (Hajer, 1995). Our analysis demonstrates that the nexus discourse as a whole Within the alternative nexus discourse, critical scholars argue is shaped by distinctly separate discursive formations, knowledge along the same lines (e.g., Allouche et al., 2015). In this sense, bases, and limited geographical foci. Despite highlighting the we position this paper in the realms of what we termed the need for integrative approaches, the leading nexus discourse takes alternative nexus discourse. Discourse analysis cannot produce place in a rather confined intellectual and geographical space. objectively true knowledge, as the researcher is an integral part Instead of conceptualizing the nexus in a truly interdisciplinary of the analysis and may reproduce or contribute to particular way, social scientific knowledge seems to be less legitimate discourses. Despite this intrinsic limitation, discourse analysis or authoritarian and plays a negligible role in shaping the presents a valuable analytical perspective for environmental overarching nexus idea. Additionally, the nexus is mainly research. First, we illustrate the distinct discursive formations informed by western knowledge, which is then exported to the and the wider context of the nexus concept. Second, most social Global South. scientific contributions are conceptual or theoretical in nature These distinctions then contrast with the definition of the term and discourse analysis provides a strong empirical foundation nexus, which refers to the “connection or series of connections for our argument. By exposing different discursive formations, linking two or more things” and “a connected group or series” various interpretations of environmental issues or possible (Oxford Dictionary, 2018). Both nexus discourses advertise solutions, we hope to emphasize and strengthen alternative integrative solutions via inter- and transdisciplinary research nexus positions. This may also help to promote alternative approaches and collaborative decision-making (Ringler et al., interpretations or policy options (Feindt and Oels, 2005; Glasze 2013; Hernandez et al., 2014; Allouche et al., 2015; Conway and Mattissek, 2015). et al., 2015; Laurentiis et al., 2016). We attribute this divide between rhetoric and real collaboration to a misconception of CONCLUSION integration. As shown by Hofer and Meisch (2018), narrowly framed and solution-oriented research often promotes a limited In this paper, we closely engaged with the Water-Energy- understanding of disciplinary integration. Instead of endorsing Food Nexus and showed that the concept in its current truly inter- and transdisciplinary exchange, genuine cooperation form is shaped by several fractures and lines of conflict. between scientific disciplines is actually limited. Research By employing a discourse analytical approach, we identified projects aiming to integrate different types of knowledge often two distinct formations of the scientific nexus discourse. The reflect wider power imbalances between natural and social leading discourse is based on natural scientific, economic, and sciences. While such research projects are largely dominated engineering research approaches, frames problems in terms by techno-scientific approaches, social scientists taking marginal of resource scarcity or global crises and aims to solve these positions are often required to subscribe to natural scientific problems via technological innovations or market incentives. analytical frames and are employed as “afterthoughts” (Strang, The leading discourse occupies much more space by establishing 2009: p. 6). However, genuine collaboration, multiple types of and maintaining its authoritative position in various ways. We expertise, and truly integrative approaches are required to explain argue that the leading techno-scientific nexus reproduces a neo- the complexities of environmental challenges (e.g., Strang, 2009; Malthusian narrative which directs policies toward addressing Gerlak and Mukhtarov, 2015). environmental issues without dealing with the root causes In this sense, we do not oppose or refute the WEF-Nexus for these problems. Its counter-discourse is based on social concept per se. Instead, we argue that the overarching nexus scientific approaches, identifies the current techno-scientific discourse needs to bridge the current gap between rhetoric nexus framing as major problem, and actively engages with the and real collaboration by developing into a more holistic, socio-political aspects of resource governance. We illustrate that inter-, and transdisciplinary concept that also moves beyond this alternative nexus discourse is less influential and seen as less its current spatial constrains and scientific reductionism. The legitimate. A second line of separation runs between places of current nexus debate needs to overcome its limitations by nexus knowledge production, located in Global North, and nexus endorsing epistemic pluralism and knowledge claims from application focusing mainly on South-East Asia. By referring to various sources and places. For this purpose, the techno- the geography of knowledge debate, we claim that the nexus as managerial approach, on the one hand, needs to recognize and western concept cannot have universal aspiration. acknowledge the deeply political nature of resource use and We conclude that the current Water-Energy-Food Nexus governance. Indeed, any debate about the nexus “necessarily represents a splintered concept that is shaped by separation entails a political or ideological dimension that must be explicitly rather than integrative approaches to resource governance. In acknowledged” (Giampietro, 2018: p. 4). Social scientists, on order for the nexus to critically investigate solutions for future the other hand, are called upon to become more future and sustainability, it needs to overcome its discursive and spatial action-oriented, by engaging in environmental debates early separations. By embracing epistemic pluralism and different on and by moving beyond purely theoretical and conceptual forms of knowledge from different sources or places, the nexus approaches. Otherwise, it remains questionable whether the can develop into a more holistic concept. We also suggest to Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 13 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? engage more closely with the geographies of nexus knowledge: conception and design of the study. All authors contributed What are local nexus approaches and conceptualizations of socio- to manuscript revision, read and approved the submitted nature relations in countries where western nexus knowledge version. is currently applied? To support more integrative and diverse discussions, we also encourage social scientists to engage sooner ACKNOWLEDGMENTS and more actively in ongoing environmental debates. As shown, environmental politics are often shaped by natural scientific and We would like to thank all members of the Governance and techno-scientific approaches to sustainability. Social scientists Sustainability Lab, who commented on earlier versions of this are called upon to engage and contribute to environmental article and Jonathan Hassel for helping to produce the map for discourses by becoming more future and action-oriented. To the this paper. This research has been partially funded by the German contrary, natural scientists are encouraged to acknowledge and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the recognize the political nature of resource use and governance. project funding number 01 LN 1316 A. The publication was also Timely involvement of multiple perspectives could result in more funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the fundamental debates about the nature and society we intend to German Research Foundation (DFG) within the Open Access promote instead of endorsing emblematic issues and concepts. Publishing funding programme. AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL VW contributed to the conception and design of the study, The Supplementary Material for this article can be found conducted the study, organized the database, and wrote the first online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs. draft of the manuscript. AB supervised and contributed to the 2018.00128/full#supplementary-material REFERENCES Chen, J. (2007). Rapid urbanization in China: a real challenge to soil protection and food security. Catena 69, 1–15. doi: 10.1016/j.catena.2006.04.019 Abdullaev, I., and Rakhmatullaev, S. (2016). Setting up the agenda for water Conway, D., van Garderen, E. A., Deryng, D., Dorling, S., Krueger, T., Landman, reforms in Central Asia: does the nexus approach help? Environ. Earth Sci. 75, W., et al. (2015). Climate and southern Africa’s water-energy-food nexus. Nat. 870–880. doi: 10.1007/s12665-016-5409-8 Clim. Change 5, 837–846. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2735 Allouche, J., Middleton, C., and Gyawali, D. (2015). Technical veil, hidden politics: Demeritt, D. (2001). The construction of global warming and the politics of interrogating the power linkages behind the nexus. Water Altern. 8, 610–626. science. Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr. 91, 307–337. doi: 10.1111/0004-5608.00245 Bazilian, M., Rogner, H., Howells, M., Hermann, S., Arent, D., Gielen, Dingler, J. (2005). The discursive nature of nature: towards a post- D., et al. (2011). Considering the energy, water and food nexus: modern concept of nature. J. Environ. Policy Plann. 7, 209–225. towards an integrated modelling approach. Energy Policy 39, 7896–7906. doi: 10.1080/15239080500339679 doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.09.039 El Gafy, I., Grigg, N., and Reagan, W. (2017). Water-food-energy nexus index to Beck, M. B., and Walker, R. V. (2013). On water security, sustainability, and maximize the economic water and energy productivity in an optimal cropping the water-food-energy-climate nexus. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng. 7, 626–639. pattern. Water Int. 42, 495–503. doi: 10.1080/02508060.2017.1309630 doi: 10.1007/s11783-013-0548-6 Feindt, P. H., and Oels, A. (2005). Does discourse matter? Discourse analysis Beck, U. (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage. in environmental policy making. J. Environ.Policy Plann. 7, 161–173. Benessia, A., and Funtowicz, S. (2016). “Never Late, Never Lost and Never doi: 10.1080/15239080500339638 Unprepared,” in The Rightful Place of Science: Science on the Verge, eds A. Foran, T. (2015). Node and regime: interdisciplinary analysis of water-energy-food Benessia, S. Funtowicz, M. Giampietro, Â. G. Pereira, J. R. Ravetz, R. Strand, J. nexus in the Mekong region. Water Altern. 8, 655–674. P. van der Sluijs (Tempe, AZ: Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes), Gerlak, A. K., and Mukhtarov, F. (2015). ‘Ways of knowing’water: integrated 71–114. water resources management and water security as complementary Benson, D., Gain, A., and Rouillard, J. (2015). Water governance in a comparative discourses. Int. Environ. Agreements: Politics Law Econ. 15, 257–272. ′ ′ perspective: from IWRM to a nexus approach? Water Altern. 8, 756–773. doi: 10.1007/s10784-015-9278-5 Berardy, A., and Chester, M. V. (2017). Climate change vulnerability in Giampietro, M. (2018). Perception and representation of the resource nexus at the the food, energy, and water nexus: concerns for agricultural production interface between society and the natural environment. Sustainability 10:2545. in Arizona and its urban export supply. Environ. Res. Lett. 12:035004. doi: 10.3390/su10072545 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5e6d Glasze, G., and Mattissek, A. (2015). “Diskursforschung in der Humangeographie: Brouwer, F., Avgerinopoulos, G., Fazekas, D., Laspidou, C., Mercure, J-F., Pollitt, Konzeptionelle Grundalgen und empirische Operationalisierungen,“ H., et al. (2018). Energy modelling and the Nexus concept. Energy Strategy Rev. in Handbuch Diskurs und Raum: Theorien und Methoden für die 19, 1–6. doi: 10.1016/j.esr.2017.10.005 Humangeographie sowie die sozial-und kulturwissenschaftliche Raumforschung, Cairns, R., and Krzywoszynska, A. (2016). Anatomy of a buzzword: the eds G. Glasze and A. Mattissek (Bielefeld: transcript Verlag), 11–60. emergence of ‘the water-energy-food nexus’ in UK natural resource Grundmann, R. (2007). Climate change and knowledge politics. Env. Polit. 16, debates. Environ. Sci. Policy, 64, 164–170. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016. 414–432. doi: 10.1080/09644010701251656 07.007 Hajer, M., and Versteeg, W. (2005). A decade of discourse analysis of Castree, N. (2001). “Socializing Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics,” in Social environmental politics: achievements, challenges, perspectives. J. Environ. Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics, eds N. Castree and B. Braun (Oxford: Policy Plann. 7, 175–184. doi: 10.1080/15239080500339646 Blackwell), 1–19. Hajer, M. A. (1995). The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Castree, N. (2015). Changing the Anthropo(s)cene: geographers, global Modernization and the Policy Process. Oxford: Clarendon Press. environmental change and the politics of knowledge. Dialog. Human Harvey, D. (1974). Population, resources, and the ideology of science. Econ. Geogr. Geogr. 5, 301–316. doi: 10.1177/2043820615613216 50, 256–277. doi: 10.2307/142863 Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 14 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Hernandez, R. R., Easter, S. B., Murphy-Mariscal, M. L., Maestre, F. T., Ringler, C., Bhaduri, A., and Lawford, R. (2013). The nexus across water, Tavassoli, M., Allen, E. B., et al. (2014). Environmental impacts of energy, land and food (WELF): potential for improved resource use utility-scale solar energy. Renewab. Sustain. Energy Rev. 29, 766–779. efficiency? Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 5, 617–624. doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2013. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2013.08.041 11.002 Hofer, S., and Meisch, S. (2018). “Extremwetter: Konstellationen des Klimawandels Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, III F. S., Lambin, in der Literatur der frühen Neuzeit,” in Extremwetter: Konstellationen des E., et al. (2009). Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for Klimawandels in der Literatur der frühen Neuzeit eds S. Hofer and S. Meisch humanity. Ecol. Soc. 14, 1–31. (Baden-Baden: Nomos), 9–68. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. London: Vintage Books. Hoff, H. (2011). Understanding the nexus: Background paper for the Bonn2011 Schmidt, J. J., and Matthews, N. (2018). From state to system: financialization Nexus Conference. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute. and the water-energy-food-climate nexus. Geoforum 91, 151–159. IUCN (2013). Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions: Building doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.03.001 Partnerships for Innovation in Water, Energy and Food Security. Available online Siddiqi, A., and Anadon, L. D. (2011). The water–energy nexus in Middle East at: https://www.iucn.org/theme/water/our-work/past-projects/nexus and North Africa. Energy Policy 39, 4529–4540. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011. Karan, E., Asadi, S., Mohtar, R., and Baawain, M. (2018). Towards the optimization 04.023 of sustainable food-energy-water systems: a stochastic approach. J. Clean. Prod. Strang, V. (2009). Integrating the social and natural sciences in environmental 171, 662–674. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.10.051 research: a discussion paper. Environ. Dev. Sustain. 11, 1–18. Keller, R. (2005). Analysing discourse. An approach from the sociology of doi: 10.1007/s10668-007-9095-2 knowledge. Forum Qualit. Social Res. 6, 1–18. doi: 10.17169/fqs-6.3.19 The Nexus Dialogue Programme (2015). Nexus and the SDGs: Water-Energy- Keller, R. (2011). The sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD). Hum. Food Nexus serves the SDGs. Available online at: https://www.nexus-dialogue- Stud. 34, 43–65. doi: 10.1007/s10746-011-9175-z programme.eu/about/nexus-and-the-sdgs/ Keller, R. (2013). Doing Discourse Research: an Introduction for Social Scientists. Tonkiss, F. (2004). “Discourse analysis,” in, Researching Society and Culture ed C. London: Sage. Seale (London: Sage), 477–492. Laurentiis, V., de Hunt, D. V. L., and Rogers, C. D. F. (2016). Overcoming Waitt, G. (2010). “Doing Foucauldian Discourse Analysis - Revealing Social food security challenges within an energy/water/food nexus (ewfn) approach. Identities,” in Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography, ed I. Hay Sustainability 8:95. doi: 10.3390/su8010095 (Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press Canada). Leese, M., and Meisch, S. (2015). Securitising sustainability? Questioning the’water, Water Alternatives Journal (2018). Manifesto. Available online at: http://www. energy and food-security nexus’. Water Altern. 8, 695–709. water-alternatives.org/index.php/manifesto Livingstone, D. N. (2003). Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Wesselink, A., Buchanan, K. S., Georgiadou, Y., and Turnhout, E. (2013). Technical Knowledge. London; Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. knowledge, discursive spaces and politics at the science–policy interface. Martinez-Hernandez, E., Leach, M., and Yang, A. (2017). Understanding water- Environ. Sci. Policy 30, 1–9. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2012.12.008 energy-food and ecosystem interactions using the nexus simulation tool World Economic Forum (2011). Water Security: The Water–Food–Energy– NexSym. Appl. Energy 206, 1009–1021. doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.09.022 Climate Nexus. Washington, DC: World Economic Forum. Mdee, A. (2017). Disaggregating orders of water scarcity-the politics of nexus in WWF and SAB Miller (2014). The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Insights Into Resilient the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, Tanzania. Water Altern. 10, 100–115. Development. Available online at: http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/sab03_ Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D. L., Randers, J., and Behrens, W. W. (1972). The 01_sab_wwf_project_nexus_final.pdf. Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Xue, Y., and Xiao, S. (2013). Generalized congestion of power systems: insights Mankind. New York, NY: Universe Books. from the massive blackouts in India. J. Modern Power Syst. Clean Energy 1, Middleton, C., Allouche, J., Gyawali, D., and Allen, S. (2015). The rise and 91–100. doi: 10.1007/s40565-013-0014-2 implications of the water-energy-food nexus in Southeast Asia through an environmental justice lens. Water Altern. 8, 627–654. Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was Molle, F. (2008). Nirvana concepts, narratives and policy models: Insights from the conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could water sector. Water Altern. 1, 131–156. be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Newman, D. (2000). The lines that separate us: borders in a “borderless” world. Prog. Hum. Geogr. 30, 143–161. Copyright © 2018 Wiegleb and Bruns. This is an open-access article distributed Oxford Dictionary (2018). Nexus. Available online at: https://en. under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, oxforddictionaries.com/definition/nexus distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original Rasul, G. (2014). Food, water, and energy security in South Asia: a nexus author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication perspective from the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Environ. Sci. Policy 39, in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, 35–48. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2014.01.010 distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 15 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers in Environmental Science Unpaywall

What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging Resource Governance Concept

Frontiers in Environmental ScienceOct 30, 2018

Loading next page...
 
/lp/unpaywall/what-is-driving-the-water-energy-food-nexus-discourses-knowledge-and-1gwIbz0zFN

References

References for this paper are not available at this time. We will be adding them shortly, thank you for your patience.

Publisher
Unpaywall
ISSN
2296-665X
DOI
10.3389/fenvs.2018.00128
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

SYSTEMATIC REVIEW published: 30 October 2018 doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00128 What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging Resource Governance Concept Viviana Wiegleb* and Antje Bruns Governance and Sustainability Lab, Faculty of Regional and Environmental Sciences, Trier University, Trier, Germany In the context of accelerated global socio-environmental change, the Water-Energy-Food Nexus has received increasing attention within science and international politics by promoting integrated resource governance. This study explores the scientific nexus debates from a discourse analytical perspective to reveal knowledge and power Edited by: Jill A. Engel-Cox, relations as well as geographical settings of nexus research. We also investigate National Renewable Energy approaches to socio-nature relations that influence nexus research and subsequent Laboratory (DOE), United States political implications. Our findings suggest that the leading nexus discourse is dominated Reviewed by: by natural scientific perspectives and a neo-Malthusian framing of environmental Richard Meissner, Council for Scientific and Industrial challenges. Accordingly, the promoted cross-sectoral nexus approach to resource Research (CSIR), South Africa governance emphasizes efficiency, security, future sustainability, and poverty reduction. Simon P. Meisch, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Water, energy, and food are conceived as global trade goods that require close Studies, Germany monitoring, management and control, to be achieved via quantitative assessments and *Correspondence: technological interventions. Within the less visible discourse, social scientific perspectives Viviana Wiegleb engage with the social, political, and normative elements of the Water-Energy-Food wiegleb@uni-trier.de Nexus. These perspectives criticize the dominant nexus representation for its managerial, Specialty section: neoliberal, and utilitarian approach to resource governance. The managerial framing is This article was submitted to critiqued for masking power relations and social inequalities, while alternative framings Freshwater Science, a section of the journal acknowledge the political nature of resource governance and socio-nature relations. Frontiers in Environmental Science The spatial dimensions of the nexus debate are also discussed. Notably, the nexus is Received: 13 July 2018 largely shaped by western knowledge, yet applied mainly in specific regions of the Global Accepted: 10 October 2018 Published: 30 October 2018 South. In order for the nexus to achieve integrative solutions for sustainability, the debate Citation: needs to overcome its current discursive and spatial separations. To this end, we need Wiegleb V and Bruns A (2018) What Is to engage more closely with alternative nexus discourses, embrace epistemic pluralism Driving the Water-Energy-Food and encourage multi-perspective debates about the socio-nature relations we actually Nexus? Discourses, Knowledge, and Politics of an Emerging Resource intend to promote. Governance Concept. Front. Environ. Sci. 6:128. Keywords: discourse analysis, geography of knowledge, resource governance, socio-nature relations, doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2018.00128 sustainability Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 1 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? INTRODUCTION acts as governance concept, aiming to integrate resource sectors across policies and infrastructures to promote sustainability and In recent years, the Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach better resource allocation (e.g., Rasul, 2014; Laurentiis et al., 2016; has attracted growing attention within international politics, Karan et al., 2018). To achieve these goals, the nexus approach academia and other areas of society. Originally, the concept highlights the need for technological innovations, recycling, emerged within the realms of international politics under the and the reduction of waste. Moreover, the concept advertises influence of the World Economic Forum and related policy knowledge integration via inter- and transdisciplinary research makers. Cairns and Krzywoszynska (2016), for instance, trace approaches and collaborative decision-making (e.g., Ringler et al., the nexus back to the year 2008, where business leaders of 2013; Hernandez et al., 2014; Allouche et al., 2015; Conway et al., the World Economic Forum issued a call to engage with 2015; Laurentiis et al., 2016). nexus issues between economic growth and water, energy, Though international guiding concepts, like the Water- food resource systems. The Bonn2011 Nexus conference marks Energy-Food Nexus, may become very influential in shaping an additional milestone, which gained prominence through policy programs, and scientific funding schemes, critical its influential background paper: “Understanding the Nexus: engagement with these concepts is often limited or neglected. Background paper for the Bonn2011 Nexus Conference” (Hoff, Within the leading political and (natural) scientific debates, 2011). The World Economic Forum, simultaneously, published the nexus is rarely questioned but described as neutral and another leading report on “Water-Security: The Water-Food- apolitical concept. This represents an important misconception, Energy -Climate Nexus” (World Economic Forum). By arguing as “[i]nfluential concepts in policy making are not merely neutral that an integrative approach to water, energy and food may or scientific; they do not emerge by chance but, rather, are the enhance resource security, efficiency, poverty reduction and emanation of complex webs of interests, ideologies, and power” better resource governance across sectors, these documents set (Molle, 2008: p. 132). Hence, we deem it necessary to critically the tone for future debates. investigate the nexus approach before further endorsing it as The overarching nexus debate is shaped by many different analytical or resource governance framework. Timely reflexivity societal domains and the significant influence of development is important, as opening up such concepts to critical investigation actors. Hence, a large part of the nexus literature consists of can be very difficult, once they are established as social, political policy reports, position papers, working papers or strategy or scientific facts. The ambiguity of concepts like the nexus make documents compiled by international agencies, national them susceptible to processes of appropriation by powerful actors ministries, NGOs, consultancies, transdisciplinary networks, to suit particular agendas (Cairns and Krzywoszynska, 2016). or financial institutions like the World Bank. As the Water- While critical investigation of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Energy-Food Nexus debate gains traction, it progressively concept is limited, several studies exist that review the nexus influences international development and resource governance from a social scientific perspective. These contributions mainly approaches. The United Nations (UN) and EU Commission, challenge the nexus concept for neglecting socio-political aspects for instance, seek to adopt a nexus perspective to implement of resource use and allocation. They argue that the prevailing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; The Nexus technical-managerial nexus framing is inadequate for addressing Dialogue Programme, 2015). The nexus also acts as international social aspects like poverty reduction, distributional justice, or development agenda, which diffuses into regional policy power asymmetries in resource governance (e.g., Allouche et al., programs across multiple scales, mainly from north to south 2015; Benson et al., 2015; Foran, 2015; Leese and Meisch, (Middleton et al., 2015). International non-governmental 2015; Middleton et al., 2015; Mdee, 2017). Although this organizations such as IUCN and WWF highlight the need for critical research provides important insights into actor interests a nexus approach to achieve resource security (IUCN, 2013; and power relations, most of these papers are conceptual or WWF and SAB Miller, 2014). Although research organizations theoretical in nature. Empirical studies exist but often focus on like the Stockholm Environment Institute were involved in particular aspects of the nexus or specific geographical locations, organizing the Bonn2011 Nexus conference, the concept only which hinders an overarching generalization of research results. later became the focus of scientific investigation. Consequently, Mdee (2017), for instance, analyzes two case studies in Tanzania various academic nexus platforms emerged, as the nexus frames and concludes that, here, the nexus does not sufficiently research agendas and provides growing funding opportunities disaggregate the political nature of water allocation. Cairns for scientists. and Krzywoszynska (2016) identify the nexus as contested Despite this growing prominence, the nexus in its nascent “buzzword” (ibid. p. 164) but solely focus on UK natural resource form is still ambiguous and serves multiple purposes. First, debates, which may differ from international ones. it is employed as analytical perspective to describe and In order to address these shortcomings, we investigate better understand the interlinkages between water, energy, and the academic nexus debate from a meta-level perspective. To food resource systems (e.g., El Gafy et al., 2017; Martinez- overcome the methodological restrictions of most social scientific Hernandez et al., 2017). Second, it serves as boundary concept nexus research, we also aim to provide a strong empirical to facilitate discussion between the academia and politics foundation for our argument. To reveal overarching knowledge concerning resource governance and sustainable development and power relations, we take a discourse analytical approach (e.g., Bazilian et al., 2011; Hernandez et al., 2014; Abdullaev and to study the international scientific nexus debates. First, we Rakhmatullaev, 2016; Brouwer et al., 2018). Third, the nexus explore various discursive formations of the WEF-Nexus. Can Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 2 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? we identify dominant or marginalized discourses and, if so, what able to shift marginalized positions closer to the center of knowledge and power relations are at work? This relates to the attention in order to promote alternative interpretations or questions of who produces nexus knowledge and what knowledge policy options (Feindt and Oels, 2005; Glasze and Mattissek, is seen as more legitimate or authoritarian. We also focus on 2015). the geographical context of these knowledge and power relations In this article, we first outline our analytical framework and by analyzing the stem of nexus knowledge and its destination. discourse theoretical approach. In the following sections, we Second, we examine central discursive elements of the scientific present our research methodology and results. We then discuss WEF-Nexus by referring to the way environmental problems our findings in terms of discursive formations, elements, and are framed and what solutions are legitimized to solve these context of nexus research. The article concludes with some wider problems. Are there different socio-nature relations shaping implications and reflections on our findings. nexus discourses and what (political) implications emerge from this? Addressing these questions is important, as certain ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK understandings of environmental issues gain dominance and emerge as truths through specific knowledge and power Discourse analysis presents a well-established interpretative effects (Hajer, 1995; see section Analytical Framework). The research approach within social sciences and human geography. way environmental problems are defined is important for The primary aim of social scientific discourse analysis is to how these problems are dealt with politically. Particular identify ideas, concepts and categorizations through which we understanding of environmental challenges may also reflect understand and give meaning to the world (Waitt, 2010). For in physical or material effects (Feindt and Oels, 2005). In this the purpose of this paper, we define these ideas, concepts sense, academia plays an important part, as science currently and categorizations as discourses that arise from a particular holds the “monopoly on knowledge claims” (Hajer, 1995: social context (Hajer, 1995). Discourse analysis in geography p. 281) in western societies. Science is actively engaged in questions how spatially or environmentally relevant concepts shaping ideas, concepts and categorizations that have significant are established through language and social practices. Through political implications. While the nexus debate is influenced discourse analysis, geographical notions like “the Orient” (Said, by many different sectors, science plays a prominent role in 1978) or “national borders” (Newman, 2000) are identified defining and legitimizing the nexus as a resource governance as discursive entities that shape our social realities (beliefs, concept to be implemented by policy makers. We focus on values, norms, practices) and vice versa. Who is involved in the analyzing the scientific nexus discourse, as scientists are also constitution of these ideas, concepts and categorizations? What increasingly called upon as experts in environmental governance meaning is associated with them for what purpose? What social processes, where they play an important (political) part (Castree, and spatial effects result from these particular discourses and who 2015). During the Bonn2011 Nexus conference, for instance, is to be addressed? international scientists and research organizations like the Discourse theory is based on the assumption that discourses Stockholm Environment Institute took very active roles. In this manifest in talk, texts, social practices and institutional settings. sense, the nexus represents a hybrid concept, which renders the A discourse theoretical perspective emphasizes that social and distinction between scientific and non-scientific contributions natural phenomena can only be observed, perceived, and difficult. interpreted through language, texts, and within discourses This hybridization becomes particularly obvious in global (Dingler, 2005). Language and texts are not seen as a neutral environmental politics, where the boundaries between science medium through which information, events or reality are and non-science are increasingly blurred (e.g., Demeritt, communicated in a transparent way. Instead, language, and 2001; Grundmann, 2007).When regarding the nexus as a texts are argued to form social meaning and establish social hybrid, the conventional view of science as independent facts (Tonkiss, 2004). From a discourse theoretical standpoint, of the political or ideological realm becomes untenable. it is impossible to access reality directly in an objective and Science does not provide neutral or objective evidence for neutral way, as the perception of reality always takes place within rational decision-making. Instead, we need to recognize a discursive framework (Dingler, 2005). However, discourse the dynamic interactions or intrinsic connections between theory does not minimize the existence of physical processes. knowledge production and decision-making (Grundmann, Instead, environmental issues like climate change or the WEF- 2007; Wesselink et al., 2013; Benessia and Funtowicz, 2016). Nexus are established as social facts through expert language, Amidst this difficult distinction, we demarcate the scientific specific concepts and research practices. Environmental issues contributions to the nexus debate by focusing our analysis are interpreted as social and discursive entities despite referring exclusively on peer reviewed journal articles (see section to apparently natural phenomena (Feindt and Oels, 2005). Research Methodology). A discourse analysis of the academic According to Foucauldian discourse theory, the establishment literature allows us to identify the underlying socio-political of discursive entities as social facts is deeply embedded in socio- and geographical contexts of nexus research, different discursive temporal contexts. Ideas that become dominant common-sense formations, competing interpretations of environmental issues knowledge are (re)produced, maintained and circulated within and promoted solutions to these problems. By exposing these social and institutional settings, while alternative interpretations discursive formations and elements, discourse analysis is of the world are marginalized (Waitt, 2010). Discourse analysis Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 3 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? situates and interprets environmental accounts within their RESEARCH METHODOLOGY historical, cultural, and political settings instead of treating Data Selection and Corpus Compilation them as universally true knowledge claims (Dingler, 2005; Discourse analysis is based on social scientific approaches, as Hajer and Versteeg, 2005). From a discourse theoretical textual data are studied via qualitative research methods within perspective, environmental issues are not seen as naturally given their social, historical and geographical context (Tonkiss, 2004). problems but, rather, as being shaped by multiple competing During discourse analysis, linguistic and textual data gather in interpretations (Feindt and Oels, 2005). By establishing the WEF- large text corpora that are compiled in accordance to selection Nexus as environmental governance concept various actors are criteria reflecting the research goal (Waitt, 2010; Keller, 2013). As likely to hold different perceptions of what the problem really we aim to analyze the scientific nexus discourse, we assorted our is and what solutions are to be legitimized (Hajer, 1995). These text corpus in line with criteria allowing us to detect discursive struggles about the correct interpretation of environmental issues structures within the academic nexus literature (Table 1). Our are intrinsic to environmental discourses or political conflict and final text corpus comprises 352 academic documents which were can be revealed through discourse analysis (Feindt and Oels, subjected to further analysis (see Table S1). 2005). Scientific publications for our corpus were selected from Discourse analysis in the realms of environmental politics the Web of Science online database (last accessed 17.04.2018). pursues several objectives. First, discourse analysis aims to International scientific discourses manifest in English and identify why a particular understanding of environmental various text formats including peer-reviewed articles, conference issues gains dominance, while other understandings are materials, scientific books, dissertations or working papers, which discredited. Hence, environmental discourse analysis helps to can all be studies as data (Keller, 2013). However, to ensure reveal multiple competing interpretations of environmental data coherence, comparability and quality we only included peer- issues and their manifestation within leading or marginalized reviewed articles, proceeding papers and special issue editorial discourses. Discourse analysis may reveal the intrinsically contributions into our text corpus. political nature of what is presented as apolitical and objectively The Web of Science online database was searched with a true knowledge claims (Hajer, 1995; Feindt and Oels, 2005). combination of the keywords water, energy, food and nexus. For instance, although the WEF-Nexus is often presented as These keywords were selected, as the Water-Energy-Food Nexus “unarguably true” (Cairns and Krzywoszynska, 2016: p. 166), a designation is dominant within current scientific debates, discourse analytical approach to the nexus may expose political although multiple other names exist. These include for example: dynamics and several competing interpretations. Second, the Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus (Hoff, 2011), the discourse analysis closely engages with knowledge production water-energy nexus (Siddiqi and Anadon, 2011) or the water- and power effects within discourses. Competing interpretations food-energy-climate nexus (Beck and Walker, 2013). By focusing of environmental issues are often based on different forms of explicitly on these content-related keywords, we sought to knowledge. When a particular understanding of environmental guarantee the data’s immediate relevance for our research topic. issues gains dominance, its associated form of knowledge Furthermore, comparative searches including the additional production is legitimized as more authoritative, while other ways keywords climate or security did not result in a significantly of knowing are sidelined (Hajer, 1995; Waitt, 2010). According to different selection of documents. discourse theory, particular environmental accounts and forms The selection of texts was conducted with the Web of Science of knowledge are established as dominant and more legitimate database, as it identifies scientific peer-reviewed material, while by exercising power within discourses (Dingler, 2005). For also allowing a systematic literature review and data analysis. instance, a discourse perspective can illustrate how dominant Comparative searches with Google Scholar led to a similar interpretations of the nexus emerge from particular knowledge selection of scientific publications but contained additional text and power relations that operate within the nexus discourse. The way environmental issues are constituted through formats such as book chapters, working papers, technical reports and student thesis that did not meet our selection criteria. discourses, knowledge and power relations shapes if and how Although we compiled our text corpus in a controlled and a problem is dealt with politically. The interpretation of transparent way, several limitations are associated with this environmental issues that gains dominance enables or constrains approach. First, the Web of Science database is not free of particular policy options. It also defines the range of actors that bias and cannot represent a complete citation search or the are legitimized for the resolution of these issues. Hence, by entire range of scientific discourses within alternative text revealing marginalized discourse, discourse analysis may offer formats. Social sciences and humanities are also less likely alternative policy options and solutions. Apart from shaping to publish in peer-reviewed journals, which could result in political action, environmental discourses also manifest in an unintentional bias toward natural sciences. Older journals material and physical effects, as they are closely linked with social and scientific contributions are potentially underrepresented practices, institutional capacities and technologies (Feindt and Oels, 2005). within the Web of Science database. By focusing solely on contributions in English, we are also unable to display Our analytical approach is based on the Sociology of discourses taking place in other languages. Despite these Knowledge Approach to Discourse (Keller, 2005, 2011, 2013), limitations, we argue that the controlled compilation of our which combines Foucauldian discourse theory with the Peter extensive text corpus allows us to reconstruct discursive Berger and Thomas Luckmann sociology of knowledge tradition. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 4 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? TABLE 1 | Criteria guiding the selection of documents for the overall text corpus. Selection criteria Justification Database Web of Science Core Collection WoS mainly comprises scientific text formats (Indexes = SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, Allows systematic literature review and analysis of results A&HCI, ESCI) Guarantees comparability of text formats within the final corpus Comparative Google Scholar searches did not result in a significantly different selection of scientific texts Timeframe All years No time limitation imposed on the literature search, in order to map the emergence and historical development of the WEF-Nexus discourse Language English Research focus on the international scientific nexus discourses, which is held in English. Restriction to one language to ensure data comparability and coherence during qualitative analysis Keywords searched Water; energy; food; nexus Content-related selection of keywords based on our research goal to identify scientific discourses around the WEF-Nexus. Comparative searches with the additional keywords security or climate did not result in a significantly different selection of documents Document types included Peer-reviewed articles; proceedings Selection of documents according to scientific standards to ensure data (total 352) papers; special issue editorial material comparability and coherence formations and draw overarching conclusions on nexus procedures. First, we identified the number of publications over discourses. time to trace the emergence and historical development of Discourse analysis presents an interpretative research nexus discourses. Second, the most frequent article keywords approach during which a justified selection of texts or text and journals were extracted to investigate scientific communities, extracts is analyzed in more detail. The selection of data for research approaches and thematic priorities around the nexus. this in-depth analysis is an open and criteria-driven process, Third, the location of nexus case-studies was derived from which consolidates the corpus material to represent the range article keywords and texts themselves. This geographical focus of of discourses and their structures. The selected texts need to nexus research was then opposed to the location of knowledge traverse and record the breadth of the entire corpus material production in terms of authors’ countries of work (affiliation). in a controlled way (Keller, 2013). Following these guidelines, For the in-depth analysis of our 27 selected papers, we we initially selected 22 documents from our corpus for an in employed the methodological suggestions provided by Keller depth analysis. These documents were chosen to outline the (2013) and his Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse. development of the scientific WEF-Nexus discourse(s) over As per Keller (2013), our analysis occurred along two lines, time, illustrate the discursive structures and comprise major namely the material or context dimension and a content-based thematic priorities. Hence, we selected the 10 most cited articles interpretative analysis. The analysis of both dimensions was and 12 additional texts, aiming to proportionally represent conducted via coding, commentaries and memos within the the distribution of publication years and most common article qualitative software ATLAS.Ti. keywords within our corpus (see Table S1). However, by The interpretative analysis of our 27 selected papers was focusing on the most cited documents, a bias emerges, as older conducted in an open and iterative process that was closely publications are cited more often. Focusing on most common linked to our data but also informed by our research goal (Keller, article keywords will most likely result in a selection of texts that 2013). Several questions guided our initial evaluation including: represent the dominant discourses. To overcome this bias and What key ideas, concepts, categories and classifications mobilized to also portray alternative or marginalizes nexus discourses, 5 in the documents (Waitt, 2010)? What re-occurring themes, additional texts were subjected to an in-depth analysis. These 5 images and metaphors cluster around the nexus (Tonkiss, 2004)? texts were selected from the Water Alternatives journal, which Following this initial evaluation, we followed the three stages presents one of the very few journals in our text corpus diverging suggested by Keller (2013) for an interpretative dissection of text from the mainstream nexus approach by taking a very critical passages. These three stages comprise an in-depth analysis of perspective. (i) interpretative schemes, (ii) phenomenal structure, and (iii) narrative structures: Data Analysis i. Interpretative schemes As mentioned above, discourse analysis is concerned with what is Interpretative frames are considered socially and historically being said as well as the social, historical and geographical context embedded devices for interpreting events and deriving possible in which things are being said (Hajer, 1995). Hence, our data actions. According to Keller (2013), for instance, the notion of analysis occurred in two main steps as shown in Figure 1. risk presents an overarching modern frame which structures the To gain a more detailed understanding of the social, historical perception and action toward certain phenomena like climate and geographical context of WEF-Nexus discourses, the overall change. text corpus (352 publications) was subjected to several analytical Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 5 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? FIGURE 1 | Different steps of data analysis based on Keller (2013). ii. Phenomenal structure role (The Nexus Dialogue Programme, 2015). Naturally, water, energy and food present the most frequent article keywords The phenomenal structure refers to the way phenomena like within our text corpus. Additional thematic priorities around the WEF-nexus are constituted within discourses in terms the nexus include sustainability, sustainable development, food of key themes, problem structure, legitimization of certain security, agriculture, bioenergy, climate change, IWRM, and actions and practices to deal with particular phenomena (Keller, water resources (Figure 2). 2013). Concretely, our analysis revolved around interpretations, The most prevalent journals in our text corpus are presented metaphors, and normative claims concerning the nexus concept, in Table 2. Regarding the scope and topics of these journals, problem and solution structures as well as conceptualizations of dominant research approaches and topics clustering around socio-environmental relations. the nexus become apparent. Most commonly, journals focus explicitly on resource management, environmental iii. Narratives science topics, technology and sustainable development. Narratives are story-lines that tie together various discursive Although some journals like Environmental Science & Policy, elements into a coherent structure to explain who is doing Water International, the International Journal of Water what and why. According to Hajer (1995), narratives combine Resources Development or Sustainability present themselves elements from different domains to provide actors with a set as interdisciplinary platforms that purposefully include social of symbolic reference that suggest a common understanding. and political aspects, we argue that Water Alternatives portrays These may be stories of progress, apocalypse, causalities, one of the very few critical social scientific journal in Table 2 responsibilities, or dangers (Keller, 2013). and our overall text corpus. Unlike other journals, Water The material and context dimension was investigated with a Alternative explicitly challenges the narrow framing of and focus on the role of particular actors within discourses, relations technical approach to water. The journal aims to focus more between actors, intended audiences and research approaches on the political dimensions of water resources development (e.g., natural or social sciences). By analyzing this material and through constructive critiques and alternative approaches context dimension of discourses, we can identify the social (Water Alternatives Journal, 2018). dynamics carried into the production of knowledge and texts The map presented in Figure 3 illustrates the geographical (Waitt, 2010). context of nexus research by comparing the places of Finally, results from our interpretative analysis and material nexus knowledge production to the location of nexus case- dimension were aggregated into general statements about the studies. Regarding individual countries and their frequency of discourses present in the overall corpus (Keller, 2013). occurrence, we detect that nexus knowledge is mainly produced in developed industrial countries of the Global North. Contrary RESULTS to this, the nexus is mainly applied and researched in developing countries of the Global South with a strong focus on South-East Social, Historical, and Geographical Asia. Context of Nexus Discourses Since 2009, research interest in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus has increased almost exponentially (Figure 2) with the sharpest Interpretative Analysis rise in the number of publications occurring between 2014 Based on our in-depth analysis, we identified two major and 2015. We relate this increase to the adoption of the discursive formations around the Water-Energy-Food Nexus SDGs in 2015, in which the nexus is to play an important which are characterized by different interpretative schemes, Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 6 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? FIGURE 2 | Number of publications over time and article keywords with a count higher than or equal to 10 (last accessed 17.04.2018). phenomenal structures, narratives and material context. population growth, increasing standard of living, urbanization Although it may prove difficult to clearly assign individual and environmental degradation. Climate change is interpreted documents to specific discourses, we associate 21 papers with the as aggravating this situation also in terms of poverty and lack leading nexus discourse, while only 6 constitute an alternative of access to resources. In the context of this worsening global formation. The main features of each discourse are presented resource crisis, the isolated development of water, energy, and below. food nurtures inefficient resource use and allocation. The sectoral approach to management practices, policies and institutional Most Influential Nexus Discourse settings concerning water, energy and food is seen as major Based on our in-depth analysis of 21 papers, we derived issue. Economic aspects are presented as additional challenge. overarching conclusions about the leading nexus discourse. Inefficient water use in agriculture, for example, is related to “[l]ow subsidized tariffs” (Abdullaev and Rakhmatullaev, 2016: i. Interpretative schemes p. 6) and the pricing of water below market value. Missing expert Within the leading nexus discourse, we identified interwoven knowledge and data on the interconnections between water, interpretative schemes. These include risk and security, an energy and food systems is also seen as major disadvantage. economic rationale and an overarching ecological modernization Related to these issues, the primary goals is to achieve frame shaped by techno-scientific approaches. The security and global resource security through an integrative nexus approach risk frame is shaped by the notion of resource scarcity posing a to water, energy and food. Resource demand needs to be risk to the global economy or humanity as a whole. Consequently, regulated, resource use optimized and consumption rendered resources like water, energy and food need to be securitized. For more efficient. Water, energy and food policies, programs, example, Bazilian et al. (2011) state that water, energy and food and institutions are to be managed in a cooperative cross- “all have deep security issues as they are fundamental to the sectoral way to advance sustainable development. As part of functioning of society” (ibid. p. 2). The techno-scientific rationale a nexus framework, resource use efficiency and optimization and ecological modernization frame aim to solve sustainability are achieved mainly via technological innovations and market issues by increasing resource use efficiency via technological and instruments. Market mechanisms, in this case, often relate scientific innovations. The economic rationale conceptualizes to water and energy pricing signals. For example, misguided and frames the nexus in terms of resource demand, supply, water and energy subsidies are to be eliminated, in order to consumption, input, output, trade-offs, volatility spill-overs, “introduce better pricing signals” (Bazilian et al., 2011: p. 4) and value chains, and economic efficiency. to encourage farmers to “invest in a more efficient irrigation technology” (Berardy and Chester, 2017: p. 8). Problems ii. Phenomenal structure of access and distribution of resources are solved primarily Problem descriptions and promoted solutions within the via policy integration, management and planning. To solve leading discourse are strongly related to the interpretative resource challenges in an integrative nexus approach, inter- and schemes mentioned above. Problems are framed prominently transdisciplinary research is promoted. in terms of global resource scarcity, constrains and over- The leading discourse is characterized by specific themes and ideas clustering around the nexus. First, the WEF-Nexus exploitation. Global water, energy, and food resources are argued to become increasingly scarce in response to economic and is employed as analytical concept to describe the interactions Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 7 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? TABLE 2 | Journals within the overall text corpus with a count higher than or equal to 10. Journals Nr. of publications in Journal scope and topics overall text corpus Water 21 Water science and technology; ecology; water resources management; water governance; ISSN 2073-4441 hydrology; hydraulics; water scarcity; flood risk; water quality Applied Energy 17 Energy conversion and conservation; optimization of energy processes; mitigation energy ISSN 0306-2619 pollutants; sustainable energy; innovative technologies; modeling and forecasting; energy conservation strategies Environmental Science & Policy 15 Interdisciplinary research of policy relevance on environmental issues; climate change; ISSN: 14629011 biodiversity; environmental pollution and wastes; production; transport; consumption; growth; demographic changes; well-being; health Water International 15 Journal of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA), founded for the sustainable ISSN: 0250-8060 management of water resources around the world International Journal of Water Resources 13 Interdisciplinary policy and practice-oriented journal that covers all aspects of water resources; Development water resources and their economic, financial, social and environmental-related impacts; ISSN: 0790-0627 interdependences and inter-linkages between the water and the agricultural, energy, industrial and health sectors in both developed and developing countries Journal of Cleaner Production 13 Focusing on cleaner production, environmental, and sustainability research and practice; ISSN: 0959-6526 cleaner production and technical processes; sustainable development; sustainable consumption; environmental sustainability assessment; sustainable products and services Environmental Science and Technology 11 Aim is to provide authoritative source of information for professionals in a wide range of (Letters) environmental disciplines; advances, trends and challenges in environmental science, ISSN: 0013-936X technology and policy Sustainability 11 Forum for studies related to sustainability, experimental and theoretical research relating to ISSN 2071-1050 natural sciences, social sciences and humanities; scientific predictions and impact assessments of global change and development; air pollution and climate change; water pollution and sanitation; misuse of land; desertification and drought; industrial development and energy crisis Advances in Water Resources 10 Theoretical, computational, or experimental approaches used to advance fundamental ISSN: 0309-1708 understanding of surface or subsurface water resources systems or the interaction between these systems; surface and subsurface hydrology; hydrodynamics and hydrometerology; multiphase transport phenomena; modeling fluids Environmental Progress & Sustainable 10 American Institute of Chemical Engineers reporting on critical issues of the environment, Energy including remediation and treatment of solid or aqueous wastes, air pollution, sustainability, and ISSN: 1944-7450 sustainable energy; alternate energy technologies; biofuels; biorefineries Water Alternatives 10 Aim is to challenge narrow framing of water problems and technical and engineering approach ISSN 1965-0175 to water; focus more on political dimension of water resources development and management at all scales; journal is to provide space for creative and free thinking on water, fostering debate, eliciting innovative alternatives, promoting original analyses and constructive critiques between water, energy and food. Interlinkages between water, critical points are only touched upon within the dominant energy, and food are conceptualized within a coupled systems discourse. approach characterized by feedbacks and interdependencies. The As shown in our Analytical Framework, discourses dominant perspective argues that a nexus approach will enable (re)produce particular nature-society relations. Within the us to better understand or assess the complex dynamics between leading nexus discourse, for instance, the environment is water, energy and food resource systems. Second, the WEF- addressed in a command and control approach that follows Nexus is supposed to act as “boundary concept” (Abdullaev a utilitarian logic and sees nature as economic resource. and Rakhmatullaev, 2016: p. 1) between science and policy. Environmental aspects need to be monitored and controlled Indeed, authors often state that nexus research should support for human use and benefit. Karan et al. (2018), for instance, decision-making to allocate increasingly limited resources more state that “since dollars are the only measure common to food, effectively. Third, the WEF-Nexus is directly promoted as energy, and water components, the changes in the sustainability emerging resource governance concept to achieve and monitor are formulated in terms of dollars” (ibid. p.20). Ringler et al. sustainable development. From this leading perspective, the (2013) argue that “natural resources are beginning to limit, to nexus is to reduce competition over resources, eliminate trade- a substantial degree, economic growth and human well-being offs, and maximize synergies between sectors. As the nexus goals” (ibid. p. 617). Nature and society are predominantly concept allows to implement more efficient infrastructure and conceptualized as two distinctly separate spheres; an approach environmental policies, increasing global demand for water, which is often referred to as Cartesian dualism (Dingler, 2005). energy, and food resource can be managed more effectively. This Cartesian dualism manifests in the coupled-systems The WEF-Nexus concept itself is rarely questioned and perspective which is typical for the dominant nexus approach. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 8 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? FIGURE 3 | Geographical focus of nexus research and spaces of nexus knowledge production. Map based on places with equal or more than 10 counts. iii. Narratives promises to maximize synergies between resource systems, reduce trade-offs, optimize resource use, help us allocate These various discursive elements consolidate into a dominant limiting resources more effectively and promote sustainable nexus narrative based on apocalyptic story-lines. According development. to this narrative, multiple global crises cumulate in resource scarcity that poses an ultimate threat to human existence. Researchers and decision-makers are called upon to urgently Alternative and Marginalized Nexus Discourse adopt an integrative approach to water, energy and food Based on our in-depth analysis of 6 papers, we derived systems. Only a nexus approach, so the story goes, will overarching conclusions about the alternative or marginalized help us prevent a global catastrophe. A nexus approach nexus discourse. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 9 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? i. Interpretative schemes are embedded within their historical context and prevalent political discourses. This context, however, is often neglected. Contrary to the leading discourse, the alternative nexus discourse For example, the dominant natural scientific nexus approach is characterized by a social constructivist interpretative scheme. inadequately addresses the “social, productive and cultural For example, authors employ a “constructivist reading of values” (Mdee, 2017: p. 103) associated with resources like water. security” (Leese and Meisch, 2015: p. 700). Others highlight the The reason for this disregard is argued to result from a lack of “constructed and political nature of global resource scarcity” critical social sciences conceptualizations. By ignoring the social (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 616). This indicates that nexus aspects dimensions, “resource linkages remain thinly described and like “global resource scarcity” are not seen as objectively true under-theorized” (Foran, 2015: p. 656). Finally, the integration facts. Instead, it is argued that these notions are embedded of water, energy, and food sectors itself is seen as problematic. in wider socio-political contexts, political dynamics, and that It is suggested to compare the nexus to existing governance they are shaped by various actors and interests. As part of frameworks before endorsing it as new paradigm. From this this social constructivist perspective, authors focus on nexus alternative perspective, it remains questionable, whether the language, aim to “disaggregate narratives of water scarcity” nexus presents anything new, or may provide added value for (Mdee, 2017: p. 100) or analyze different interpretations of the resource governance. nexus amongst international actors. These social constructivist To overcome these challenges, an alternative nexus framing approaches emphasize the “particular policy settings, [. . . ] arenas is suggested that highlights the socio-political dimension of power and contestation” (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 616) of resource governance. This extended nexus approach surrounding the nexus approach. recognizes the political nature of decisions concerning resource use and allocation. A more in-depth political analysis may ii. Phenomenal structure be required to understand different assumptions already Within this alternative discourse, the dominant techno-scientific embedded in policy. This political analysis may also reveal nexus framing is defined as overarching problem. A primary the political nature of different narratives surrounding the critique focuses on the exclusion of socio-political dimensions nexus (e.g., scarcity). A more explicit focus on the socio- within the leading discourse. It is argued that decisions political dimensions will illuminate powerful interest and concerning resources like water, energy, and food are not power asymmetries concerning the re-allocation of resources. neutral but highly political. The allocation and distribution Researchers need to pay closer attention to the politicized of resources take place within areas of unequal power and relationship between water, energy, and food governance often lack transparency or public participation. For instance, systems in addition to the socio-political and historical Allouche et al. (2015) argue that the framing of the nexus as context of nexus narratives. For instance, the alternative technical issue actively “hides its politics” (ibid. p. 610). By nexus also “recognizes that global priorities may not reflect neglecting socio-political aspects, the current nexus framing local concerns” (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 618). A political may further powerful interests, and dominant worldviews. perspective allows to assess whether the nexus centralizes or Powerful actors may easily adopt and appropriate the nexus to de-centralizes control and decision-making, reduce or increase safeguard their interests, consolidate pre-established positions inequality. and marginalize subordinate actors. For example, framing To this end, the alternative perspective suggests to engage the nexus in terms of security creates a sense of alarm or more strongly with issues of social justice. To achieve poverty urgency and allows water, energy and food to be treated as reduction, the nexus needs to focus more on the question of: economic goods in order to address an apparent economic Whose water, energy and food use is to be secured? Whose emergency. By neglecting the politics of resource distribution water, energy, and food use is termed inefficient? How are the or scarcity, the dominant nexus risks “marginalizing those needs of the marginalized prioritized? To promote sustainable who are least likely to be able to articulate their needs” development, the nexus needs to “address poverty and redress (Mdee, 2017: p. 103). Furthermore, the current nexus is inequality and social justice” (Allouche et al., 2015: p. 619). challenged for not being sufficiently pro-poor, as its techno- Open and transparent decision-making are required to overcome managerial approach overlooks the complex dynamics between the dispossession of the poor. Resource governance needs to “financial investment, the developmental states, different classes be rendered more inclusive and collaborative. Additionally, of people, and distributional outcomes on the ground” the alternative nexus perspective highlights the need for (Foran, 2015: p. 656). interdisciplinary inquiry to foster a more holistic understanding The dominant nexus is also described as contested, of the resource nexus. The dominant approach is to be extended controversial, immature and diffuse political project that is by social scientific perspectives to value plural approaches toward “far from unified” (Benson et al., 2015: p. 759). Essentially, the nexus challenge. A social scientific perspective would focus the nexus itself is seen as socially constructed and normative more explicitly on power relations and asymmetries, implications concept. The alternative nexus discourse challenges the for people and socio-spatial patterns of inequalities. Extending “normative primacy” (Leese and Meisch, 2015: p. 696) of the the current nexus by social scientific approaches would highlight dominant nexus approach. It is argued that the nexus is not the importance of local contexts, diverse ways of knowing and shaped by objective scientific evidence. Instead, statements acknowledge the value of plural interpretations of resource issues. concerning resource scarcity or ineffective resource allocation An extended nexus “may help us think through multiple scales Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 10 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? and interfaces of competing claims for water use” (Mdee, 2017: p. Boundary Concept (Rockström et al., 2009) and the Club of 104). Rome’s Limits to Growth report (Meadows et al., 1972). Within the marginalized nexus discourses, a non-dualistic The two discourses have two distinctly separate intended view on nature and society is prevalent, as the relations audiences. Authors associated with the leading discourse aim to between society and nature are conceptualized as co-constituted. address and inform policy makers directly with their research Therefore, socio-nature need to be analyzed within their socio- results, in order to promote better and more sustainable decision- political, institutional, and historical context. making. Contrary to this, the marginalized discourse addresses authors involved in the dominant nexus framing, in order to iii. Narrative re-conceptualize the current nexus. These various discursive elements aggregate into a narrative opposing the dominant nexus story-line. The dominant techno- scientific nexus approach claims normative primacy but neglects DISCUSSION to address the highly political nature of resource governance, use and allocation. The dominant nexus framework is unable to By taking a discourse analytical approach, our findings reveal a splintered WEF-Nexus, with one leading and one counter- adequately address poverty or social justice, as power relation and asymmetries are neglected. To promote sustainable development discourse. This finding highlights that the nexus is not uniform but, rather, presents a contested concept that is shaped by and poverty eradication, the nexus needs to include social competing interpretations. According to Hajer (1995), discursive scientific political analysis and more collaborative decision- making. structures and formations are not given but emerge from a continuous struggle over discursive dominance, which indicates that the leading nexus discourse is not closer to an objective Material Dimension truth. Instead, it establishes and maintains its leading position by Two distinct research communities characterize the major exercising power in various ways (Dingler, 2005). For instance, discursive formations surrounding the Water-Energy-Food compared to the alternative approach, many more authors Nexus. The leading nexus discourse is shaped by natural are involved in (re)producing the prevalent nexus narrative. scientific, engineering and economic perspectives, which is The leading nexus discourse is also more prominent in terms mirrored in the scope and topics of the most common journals of number of publications, citations and range of scientific (Table 2). Leading nexus research focuses on assessing the journals. Within the leading approach, the nexus itself is interlinkages, trade-offs, and synergies between water, energy not questioned but handled as proven fact, while researchers and food systems via quantitative measurements and computer focus on targeting policy makers with their research findings. modeling. Papers associated with the leading nexus discourse By directly addressing policy makers, scientists contribute to are cited more often and prevail in terms of quantity. Many establishing, and promoting the nexus concept further within the more researchers and authors contribute to the dominant nexus political realm. We assume that this strategy is often successful, discourse. as researchers and research organizations are called upon as The alternative and marginalized nexus discourse is advisors when designing meetings like the Bonn2011 Nexus characterized by a critical social sciences community. The conference. alternative perspective takes a social constructivist and political Important consequences ensue from the leading nexus approach to resource management. Papers are often conceptual discourse continuously establishing and maintaining its and theoretical in nature. The marginalized discourse cumulates dominant position and supremacy over its counterpart. As shown in the Water Alternatives journal, one of the very few critical in our Analytical Framework, particular forms of knowledge journals found within our text corpus. Fewer authors shape the production are legitimized and seen as more authoritarian, alternative discourse and papers associated with this alternative depending on what understanding of environmental issues discourse are cited less frequently. They are, therefore, less gains dominance (Hajer, 1995). Based on our analysis, we influential in conceptualizing the nexus framework. showed that the leading nexus discourse is based on techno- Interestingly, both discourses refer to similar actors, events scientific research approaches. In other words, natural scientific, and institutions, which are often part of the international political economic, and engineering knowledge is seen as more legitimate sphere. Important points of reference include for example the and authoritarian when dealing with solutions surrounding United Nations (e.g., FAO), the Rio+20 summit, the MDGs and the nexus than social scientific knowledge. This observation SDGs and the IPCC platform. The World Economic Forum correlates with the powerful and persisting ideals of modernity: is identified as one of the major nexus promoters and the science and technology should merge to foster societal progress, Bonn2011 Nexus conference is often named as major milestone unlimited wealth, economic prosperity, and control over nature in developing the nexus. The Bonn conference is referred to (Benessia and Funtowicz, 2016). mostly in terms of its background paper provided by Hoff Additional knowledge and power effects reflect in the (2011). Indeed, the publications by Hoff (2011) and the World geographical context of nexus research. As shown in Figure 3, the Economic Forum (2011) present very influential texts that are nexus is shaped by western knowledge, which is then diffused or often mentioned and cited within our text corpus. The nexus is exported across the Global South with a strong focus on South- also sometimes compared to and associated with the Planetary East Asia. This observation is in line with the history of the Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 11 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? concept as traveling idea for development interventions. This is processes. This coupled-system approach to nature emerges also supported by Middleton et al. (2015), who demonstrate that from the natural scientific, economic and engineering knowledge international organizations and high-income donor countries base aiming to control, monitor and manage nature. Nature work with governments and politicians in South-East Asia to is perceived as economic resource to be used and regulated translate the nexus concept into national or regional policies. In for human benefit. Schmidt and Matthews (2018) even argue mainland South-East Asia, aid funding shifts toward the nexus, as that the nexus concept serves to financialize nature, as it was international organizations establish global nexus programs (e.g., deliberately developed by global financial networks to effect UN agencies). The projection of the nexus onto South-East Asia the transition from state-oriented to financialized approaches exemplifies the regionalization of a global policy discourse and of water development and sustainability. This conceptualization development agenda promoted through and beyond the Rio+20 of society-nature relations also underpins the security and conference or the World Economic Forum (Middleton et al., risk frame, ecological modernization approach, and economic 2015). rationale. As mentioned above, the leading nexus narrative This explicit regional focus of nexus research may have contends that population and economic growth, changing several reasons. First, the dominant discourse frames the need lifestyles, urbanization and climate change inevitably cumulate in for a nexus approach in terms of global resource scarcity a global resource scarcity that poses a threat to human existence. supposedly caused by rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles Suggested solutions for addressing these global risks are based and economic growth. Currently, these three trends coalesce in on scientific or technological innovations and market incentives South-East Asia. The geographical focus of nexus case studies aiming at allocating limited resources more effectively. largely corresponds with the region of the world exhibiting In this sense, the leading nexus discourse (re)produces a the highest density of fastest growing cities. Second, countries neo-Malthusian narrative: Giampietro (2018) even speaks of like India and China are experiencing population increases, “the return of the Neo-Malthusians” (ibid. p. 2). This neo- economic growth and rising standards of living. Resource Malthusian narrative locates the causes for resource scarcity governance debates in China or India also highlight the need in places that experience population and economic growth, for resource securitization and the coordination of competing changing lifestyles and urbanization. To date, these places are uses (e.g., Chen, 2007; Xue and Xiao, 2013). Additionally, major mainly located in countries of the Global South, which are river basins transcend countries like China, India, Myanmar, implicitly made responsible for unsustainable development and or Cambodia. The Mekong River, for instance, is extensively environmental degradation. Hence, neo-Malthusian approaches managed, researched, and appears several times within our are not neutral or objective but highly political. As Harvey (1974) text corpus. Its long lasting development history, institutional argues, neo-Malthusian approaches may have important political context and management settings to coordinate water, energy, implications by directing policies toward neo-imperialism and food supplies for rapidly growing cities may provide a abroad. Although this statement cannot be confirmed by our favorable platform for nexus research. We presume that the analysis and goes beyond the scope of this study, we illustrate specific combination of these factors contribute to South-East that nexus implementation and application strongly focuses on Asia’s particular popularity for nexus research. the Global South. In particular, the nexus is projected onto South- By embedding our geographical observations in the geography East Asia, which currently experiences population and economic of knowledge debate, we argue that the western idea of a growth, changing lifestyles, and urbanization. By interpreting single scientific rationality producing universally true knowledge environmental problems through a security and risk frame, is highly questionable, as science is spatially situated. As ecological modernization approach and an economic rationale, Livingstone (2003) illustrates: “What has been promoted as resource intensive (western) lifestyles, capitalist economies or scientific objectivity, as the ‘view from nowhere,’ turns out to utilitarian approaches to nature are not addressed as underlying have always been a ‘view from somewhere”’ (ibid. p.184). The problems. Hence, we argue that the leading nexus discourse universal claim of western nexus knowledge has to be challenged presents a typical techno-scientific approach to sustainability with regard to Middleton et al. (2015) observing that many that gears policies toward addressing environmental problems rural farmers, fishers or community groups in South-East Asia without dealing with deeper causes responsible for these do not perceive water, energy, and food as separate entities in problems (Harvey, 1974; Beck, 1992; Castree, 2001). The security the first place. This local approach to water, energy, and food and risk frame creates an additional sense of urgency for action, stands in contrast to the disciplinary fragmentation of knowledge which may legitimize far reaching interventions to control an occurring in the (western) world of scholars. apparent emergency. Inclusive decision-making and alternative Apart from these overarching knowledge and power effects, policy options may easily become suspended (Beck, 1992). our results also showthat the two discursive formations are To the contrary, the alternative nexus discourse actively shaped by distinct actor groups that conceive socio-nature engages with the political nature of resource governance, relations in very different ways. These differences are based on allocation and scarcity. Nature-society relations are and reflected in the different forms of knowledge, interpretative acknowledged to have political dimensions that must be schemes, competing problem definitions, and opposing solutions investigate within their socio-political, institutional and suggested to solve these problems. Within the leading nexus historical contexts. The alternative nexus discourse suggests discourse, nature and society are interpreted as two separate expanding the current nexus to focus more explicitly on power but coupled systems, interlinked through dynamic feedback asymmetries, social justice and the socio-political or historical Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 12 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? context of resource allocation, in order to overcome poverty and nexus will be able to promote sustainable resource governance. social inequalities. More social scientific and political analysis are Instead of creating emblematic issues shaped by techno- promoted in addition to more collaborative decision-making. scientific approaches, we wish to see a wider debate around However, this alternative nexus approach is less visible and which nature and society relations actually intend to promote influential within the overarching nexus discourse. (Hajer, 1995). Our analysis demonstrates that the nexus discourse as a whole Within the alternative nexus discourse, critical scholars argue is shaped by distinctly separate discursive formations, knowledge along the same lines (e.g., Allouche et al., 2015). In this sense, bases, and limited geographical foci. Despite highlighting the we position this paper in the realms of what we termed the need for integrative approaches, the leading nexus discourse takes alternative nexus discourse. Discourse analysis cannot produce place in a rather confined intellectual and geographical space. objectively true knowledge, as the researcher is an integral part Instead of conceptualizing the nexus in a truly interdisciplinary of the analysis and may reproduce or contribute to particular way, social scientific knowledge seems to be less legitimate discourses. Despite this intrinsic limitation, discourse analysis or authoritarian and plays a negligible role in shaping the presents a valuable analytical perspective for environmental overarching nexus idea. Additionally, the nexus is mainly research. First, we illustrate the distinct discursive formations informed by western knowledge, which is then exported to the and the wider context of the nexus concept. Second, most social Global South. scientific contributions are conceptual or theoretical in nature These distinctions then contrast with the definition of the term and discourse analysis provides a strong empirical foundation nexus, which refers to the “connection or series of connections for our argument. By exposing different discursive formations, linking two or more things” and “a connected group or series” various interpretations of environmental issues or possible (Oxford Dictionary, 2018). Both nexus discourses advertise solutions, we hope to emphasize and strengthen alternative integrative solutions via inter- and transdisciplinary research nexus positions. This may also help to promote alternative approaches and collaborative decision-making (Ringler et al., interpretations or policy options (Feindt and Oels, 2005; Glasze 2013; Hernandez et al., 2014; Allouche et al., 2015; Conway and Mattissek, 2015). et al., 2015; Laurentiis et al., 2016). We attribute this divide between rhetoric and real collaboration to a misconception of CONCLUSION integration. As shown by Hofer and Meisch (2018), narrowly framed and solution-oriented research often promotes a limited In this paper, we closely engaged with the Water-Energy- understanding of disciplinary integration. Instead of endorsing Food Nexus and showed that the concept in its current truly inter- and transdisciplinary exchange, genuine cooperation form is shaped by several fractures and lines of conflict. between scientific disciplines is actually limited. Research By employing a discourse analytical approach, we identified projects aiming to integrate different types of knowledge often two distinct formations of the scientific nexus discourse. The reflect wider power imbalances between natural and social leading discourse is based on natural scientific, economic, and sciences. While such research projects are largely dominated engineering research approaches, frames problems in terms by techno-scientific approaches, social scientists taking marginal of resource scarcity or global crises and aims to solve these positions are often required to subscribe to natural scientific problems via technological innovations or market incentives. analytical frames and are employed as “afterthoughts” (Strang, The leading discourse occupies much more space by establishing 2009: p. 6). However, genuine collaboration, multiple types of and maintaining its authoritative position in various ways. We expertise, and truly integrative approaches are required to explain argue that the leading techno-scientific nexus reproduces a neo- the complexities of environmental challenges (e.g., Strang, 2009; Malthusian narrative which directs policies toward addressing Gerlak and Mukhtarov, 2015). environmental issues without dealing with the root causes In this sense, we do not oppose or refute the WEF-Nexus for these problems. Its counter-discourse is based on social concept per se. Instead, we argue that the overarching nexus scientific approaches, identifies the current techno-scientific discourse needs to bridge the current gap between rhetoric nexus framing as major problem, and actively engages with the and real collaboration by developing into a more holistic, socio-political aspects of resource governance. We illustrate that inter-, and transdisciplinary concept that also moves beyond this alternative nexus discourse is less influential and seen as less its current spatial constrains and scientific reductionism. The legitimate. A second line of separation runs between places of current nexus debate needs to overcome its limitations by nexus knowledge production, located in Global North, and nexus endorsing epistemic pluralism and knowledge claims from application focusing mainly on South-East Asia. By referring to various sources and places. For this purpose, the techno- the geography of knowledge debate, we claim that the nexus as managerial approach, on the one hand, needs to recognize and western concept cannot have universal aspiration. acknowledge the deeply political nature of resource use and We conclude that the current Water-Energy-Food Nexus governance. Indeed, any debate about the nexus “necessarily represents a splintered concept that is shaped by separation entails a political or ideological dimension that must be explicitly rather than integrative approaches to resource governance. In acknowledged” (Giampietro, 2018: p. 4). Social scientists, on order for the nexus to critically investigate solutions for future the other hand, are called upon to become more future and sustainability, it needs to overcome its discursive and spatial action-oriented, by engaging in environmental debates early separations. By embracing epistemic pluralism and different on and by moving beyond purely theoretical and conceptual forms of knowledge from different sources or places, the nexus approaches. Otherwise, it remains questionable whether the can develop into a more holistic concept. We also suggest to Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 13 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? engage more closely with the geographies of nexus knowledge: conception and design of the study. All authors contributed What are local nexus approaches and conceptualizations of socio- to manuscript revision, read and approved the submitted nature relations in countries where western nexus knowledge version. is currently applied? To support more integrative and diverse discussions, we also encourage social scientists to engage sooner ACKNOWLEDGMENTS and more actively in ongoing environmental debates. As shown, environmental politics are often shaped by natural scientific and We would like to thank all members of the Governance and techno-scientific approaches to sustainability. Social scientists Sustainability Lab, who commented on earlier versions of this are called upon to engage and contribute to environmental article and Jonathan Hassel for helping to produce the map for discourses by becoming more future and action-oriented. To the this paper. This research has been partially funded by the German contrary, natural scientists are encouraged to acknowledge and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the recognize the political nature of resource use and governance. project funding number 01 LN 1316 A. The publication was also Timely involvement of multiple perspectives could result in more funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the fundamental debates about the nature and society we intend to German Research Foundation (DFG) within the Open Access promote instead of endorsing emblematic issues and concepts. Publishing funding programme. AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL VW contributed to the conception and design of the study, The Supplementary Material for this article can be found conducted the study, organized the database, and wrote the first online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs. draft of the manuscript. AB supervised and contributed to the 2018.00128/full#supplementary-material REFERENCES Chen, J. (2007). Rapid urbanization in China: a real challenge to soil protection and food security. Catena 69, 1–15. doi: 10.1016/j.catena.2006.04.019 Abdullaev, I., and Rakhmatullaev, S. (2016). Setting up the agenda for water Conway, D., van Garderen, E. A., Deryng, D., Dorling, S., Krueger, T., Landman, reforms in Central Asia: does the nexus approach help? Environ. Earth Sci. 75, W., et al. (2015). Climate and southern Africa’s water-energy-food nexus. Nat. 870–880. doi: 10.1007/s12665-016-5409-8 Clim. Change 5, 837–846. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2735 Allouche, J., Middleton, C., and Gyawali, D. (2015). Technical veil, hidden politics: Demeritt, D. (2001). The construction of global warming and the politics of interrogating the power linkages behind the nexus. Water Altern. 8, 610–626. science. Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr. 91, 307–337. doi: 10.1111/0004-5608.00245 Bazilian, M., Rogner, H., Howells, M., Hermann, S., Arent, D., Gielen, Dingler, J. (2005). The discursive nature of nature: towards a post- D., et al. (2011). Considering the energy, water and food nexus: modern concept of nature. J. Environ. Policy Plann. 7, 209–225. towards an integrated modelling approach. Energy Policy 39, 7896–7906. doi: 10.1080/15239080500339679 doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.09.039 El Gafy, I., Grigg, N., and Reagan, W. (2017). Water-food-energy nexus index to Beck, M. B., and Walker, R. V. (2013). On water security, sustainability, and maximize the economic water and energy productivity in an optimal cropping the water-food-energy-climate nexus. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng. 7, 626–639. pattern. Water Int. 42, 495–503. doi: 10.1080/02508060.2017.1309630 doi: 10.1007/s11783-013-0548-6 Feindt, P. H., and Oels, A. (2005). Does discourse matter? Discourse analysis Beck, U. (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage. in environmental policy making. J. Environ.Policy Plann. 7, 161–173. Benessia, A., and Funtowicz, S. (2016). “Never Late, Never Lost and Never doi: 10.1080/15239080500339638 Unprepared,” in The Rightful Place of Science: Science on the Verge, eds A. Foran, T. (2015). Node and regime: interdisciplinary analysis of water-energy-food Benessia, S. Funtowicz, M. Giampietro, Â. G. Pereira, J. R. Ravetz, R. Strand, J. nexus in the Mekong region. Water Altern. 8, 655–674. P. van der Sluijs (Tempe, AZ: Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes), Gerlak, A. K., and Mukhtarov, F. (2015). ‘Ways of knowing’water: integrated 71–114. water resources management and water security as complementary Benson, D., Gain, A., and Rouillard, J. (2015). Water governance in a comparative discourses. Int. Environ. Agreements: Politics Law Econ. 15, 257–272. ′ ′ perspective: from IWRM to a nexus approach? Water Altern. 8, 756–773. doi: 10.1007/s10784-015-9278-5 Berardy, A., and Chester, M. V. (2017). Climate change vulnerability in Giampietro, M. (2018). Perception and representation of the resource nexus at the the food, energy, and water nexus: concerns for agricultural production interface between society and the natural environment. Sustainability 10:2545. in Arizona and its urban export supply. Environ. Res. Lett. 12:035004. doi: 10.3390/su10072545 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5e6d Glasze, G., and Mattissek, A. (2015). “Diskursforschung in der Humangeographie: Brouwer, F., Avgerinopoulos, G., Fazekas, D., Laspidou, C., Mercure, J-F., Pollitt, Konzeptionelle Grundalgen und empirische Operationalisierungen,“ H., et al. (2018). Energy modelling and the Nexus concept. Energy Strategy Rev. in Handbuch Diskurs und Raum: Theorien und Methoden für die 19, 1–6. doi: 10.1016/j.esr.2017.10.005 Humangeographie sowie die sozial-und kulturwissenschaftliche Raumforschung, Cairns, R., and Krzywoszynska, A. (2016). Anatomy of a buzzword: the eds G. Glasze and A. Mattissek (Bielefeld: transcript Verlag), 11–60. emergence of ‘the water-energy-food nexus’ in UK natural resource Grundmann, R. (2007). Climate change and knowledge politics. Env. Polit. 16, debates. Environ. Sci. Policy, 64, 164–170. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2016. 414–432. doi: 10.1080/09644010701251656 07.007 Hajer, M., and Versteeg, W. (2005). A decade of discourse analysis of Castree, N. (2001). “Socializing Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics,” in Social environmental politics: achievements, challenges, perspectives. J. Environ. Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics, eds N. Castree and B. Braun (Oxford: Policy Plann. 7, 175–184. doi: 10.1080/15239080500339646 Blackwell), 1–19. Hajer, M. A. (1995). The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Castree, N. (2015). Changing the Anthropo(s)cene: geographers, global Modernization and the Policy Process. Oxford: Clarendon Press. environmental change and the politics of knowledge. Dialog. Human Harvey, D. (1974). Population, resources, and the ideology of science. Econ. Geogr. Geogr. 5, 301–316. doi: 10.1177/2043820615613216 50, 256–277. doi: 10.2307/142863 Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 14 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128 Wiegleb and Bruns What Is Driving the Water-Energy-Food Nexus? Hernandez, R. R., Easter, S. B., Murphy-Mariscal, M. L., Maestre, F. T., Ringler, C., Bhaduri, A., and Lawford, R. (2013). The nexus across water, Tavassoli, M., Allen, E. B., et al. (2014). Environmental impacts of energy, land and food (WELF): potential for improved resource use utility-scale solar energy. Renewab. Sustain. Energy Rev. 29, 766–779. efficiency? Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 5, 617–624. doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2013. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2013.08.041 11.002 Hofer, S., and Meisch, S. (2018). “Extremwetter: Konstellationen des Klimawandels Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin, III F. S., Lambin, in der Literatur der frühen Neuzeit,” in Extremwetter: Konstellationen des E., et al. (2009). Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for Klimawandels in der Literatur der frühen Neuzeit eds S. Hofer and S. Meisch humanity. Ecol. Soc. 14, 1–31. (Baden-Baden: Nomos), 9–68. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. London: Vintage Books. Hoff, H. (2011). Understanding the nexus: Background paper for the Bonn2011 Schmidt, J. J., and Matthews, N. (2018). From state to system: financialization Nexus Conference. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute. and the water-energy-food-climate nexus. Geoforum 91, 151–159. IUCN (2013). Nexus Dialogue on Water Infrastructure Solutions: Building doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.03.001 Partnerships for Innovation in Water, Energy and Food Security. Available online Siddiqi, A., and Anadon, L. D. (2011). The water–energy nexus in Middle East at: https://www.iucn.org/theme/water/our-work/past-projects/nexus and North Africa. Energy Policy 39, 4529–4540. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011. Karan, E., Asadi, S., Mohtar, R., and Baawain, M. (2018). Towards the optimization 04.023 of sustainable food-energy-water systems: a stochastic approach. J. Clean. Prod. Strang, V. (2009). Integrating the social and natural sciences in environmental 171, 662–674. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.10.051 research: a discussion paper. Environ. Dev. Sustain. 11, 1–18. Keller, R. (2005). Analysing discourse. An approach from the sociology of doi: 10.1007/s10668-007-9095-2 knowledge. Forum Qualit. Social Res. 6, 1–18. doi: 10.17169/fqs-6.3.19 The Nexus Dialogue Programme (2015). Nexus and the SDGs: Water-Energy- Keller, R. (2011). The sociology of knowledge approach to discourse (SKAD). Hum. Food Nexus serves the SDGs. Available online at: https://www.nexus-dialogue- Stud. 34, 43–65. doi: 10.1007/s10746-011-9175-z programme.eu/about/nexus-and-the-sdgs/ Keller, R. (2013). Doing Discourse Research: an Introduction for Social Scientists. Tonkiss, F. (2004). “Discourse analysis,” in, Researching Society and Culture ed C. London: Sage. Seale (London: Sage), 477–492. Laurentiis, V., de Hunt, D. V. L., and Rogers, C. D. F. (2016). Overcoming Waitt, G. (2010). “Doing Foucauldian Discourse Analysis - Revealing Social food security challenges within an energy/water/food nexus (ewfn) approach. Identities,” in Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography, ed I. Hay Sustainability 8:95. doi: 10.3390/su8010095 (Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press Canada). Leese, M., and Meisch, S. (2015). Securitising sustainability? Questioning the’water, Water Alternatives Journal (2018). Manifesto. Available online at: http://www. energy and food-security nexus’. Water Altern. 8, 695–709. water-alternatives.org/index.php/manifesto Livingstone, D. N. (2003). Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Wesselink, A., Buchanan, K. S., Georgiadou, Y., and Turnhout, E. (2013). Technical Knowledge. London; Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. knowledge, discursive spaces and politics at the science–policy interface. Martinez-Hernandez, E., Leach, M., and Yang, A. (2017). Understanding water- Environ. Sci. Policy 30, 1–9. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2012.12.008 energy-food and ecosystem interactions using the nexus simulation tool World Economic Forum (2011). Water Security: The Water–Food–Energy– NexSym. Appl. Energy 206, 1009–1021. doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.09.022 Climate Nexus. Washington, DC: World Economic Forum. Mdee, A. (2017). Disaggregating orders of water scarcity-the politics of nexus in WWF and SAB Miller (2014). The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Insights Into Resilient the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, Tanzania. Water Altern. 10, 100–115. Development. Available online at: http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/sab03_ Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D. L., Randers, J., and Behrens, W. W. (1972). The 01_sab_wwf_project_nexus_final.pdf. Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Xue, Y., and Xiao, S. (2013). Generalized congestion of power systems: insights Mankind. New York, NY: Universe Books. from the massive blackouts in India. J. Modern Power Syst. Clean Energy 1, Middleton, C., Allouche, J., Gyawali, D., and Allen, S. (2015). The rise and 91–100. doi: 10.1007/s40565-013-0014-2 implications of the water-energy-food nexus in Southeast Asia through an environmental justice lens. Water Altern. 8, 627–654. Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was Molle, F. (2008). Nirvana concepts, narratives and policy models: Insights from the conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could water sector. Water Altern. 1, 131–156. be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Newman, D. (2000). The lines that separate us: borders in a “borderless” world. Prog. Hum. Geogr. 30, 143–161. Copyright © 2018 Wiegleb and Bruns. This is an open-access article distributed Oxford Dictionary (2018). Nexus. Available online at: https://en. under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, oxforddictionaries.com/definition/nexus distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original Rasul, G. (2014). Food, water, and energy security in South Asia: a nexus author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication perspective from the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Environ. Sci. Policy 39, in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, 35–48. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2014.01.010 distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Frontiers in Environmental Science | www.frontiersin.org 15 October 2018 | Volume 6 | Article 128

Journal

Frontiers in Environmental ScienceUnpaywall

Published: Oct 30, 2018

There are no references for this article.