ISSUE XII: GOVERNING IN THE NEXUS (March 2020)
ISSUE X - Water-Agriculture Nexus (September 2019)
ISSUE VIII - Transport Trade-offs (March 2019)
ISSUE VII - The Water-Energy Nexus (December 2018)
Issue VI - Innovation (September 2018)
Innovation plays an important role in policy-making, especially when it comes to the water-energy-food nexus. Sometimes, however, innovation cannot meet the needs of all sectors at the same time, causing various tradeoffs. For example, while desalination technology produces extra water for residential and industrial use, it also requires extra energy inputs. In such situations then, how can policymakers reconcile diverging policy goals? And how can decision-makers analyse and account for the possible adverse effects of certain policies in other areas, for example the effects of agricultural policy in the water and energy sectors?
In the MAGIC project we analyse the role of innovations in the policy-making process and in the emergence of “nexus policies”. In this issue, we invite you to take a look at some of our case studies and the core theoretical issues surrounding the role of innovations.
Table of Contents
- Can Europe utilize bioenergy without compromising sustainability?
- Is Shale Gas Dead?
- Green bonds: how could they affect Nexus governance?
- What is the role of scientific innovations in EU policy?
In our first article we analyze the classic energy-food nexus issue, bioenergy. While it may be seen as a policy solution towards meeting climate goals, bioenergy also increases demand for land, water and agricultural inputs. Land and water resources are already heavily exploited in Europe, both directly and indirectly. In the European Union an important proportion of biomass is imported (for example through animal feed). Upscaling bioenergy production would thus raise new sustainability concerns: would Europe have enough land and water to meet its bioenergy use? To what degree does Europe depend on biomass from outside the EU? Would sustainability in Europe come at the cost of sustainability elsewhere?
Our second article explores hydraulic fracturing for shale gas extraction (fracking). This technology exemplifies some of the major challenges of the water-energy nexus. From a bio-economics viewpoint, shale gas is only viable if gas prices are high, making it a risky investment. From a geopolitical standpoint, shale gas may help increase energy security in countries that depend on natural gas imports, thus reducing risk. This case study illustrates the difficulty of assessing technological innovations, amid political and economic complexity when contrasting judgements can be made.
The third article takes a deep dive into green bonds, an increasingly popular option to finance climate and sustainable development policies. However, this policy solution may raise more questions than answers. If nation states act as issuers of green bonds, new debt may be created. If nation states act as regulators, questions arise with regard to what constitutes “green”, especially in the context of the nexus in which different factors, and the interactions between them, must be taken into account.
The issue closes with a more theoretical discussion of the issue of trust in the use of innovations as a policy solution. Scientific research and innovation do not necessarily translate into clear policy solutions. Innovations should thus be assessed not only as a solution to a practical problem, but also with regard to social impacts, political interests, and power asymmetries. The current erosion of trust in policy solutions points to the need to take into account potential benefits and uncertainties alike.
ISSUE V - The Governance Challenge (June 2018)
The nexus between water-energy-food can be defined in many ways, as a matter of interconnections, trade-offs and linkages. But perhaps one of the most important ways it should be conceived is as a governance issue. The institutions, coordination and rules concerning sustainability problems across the nexus are crucial to its effective governance. This issue explores some of the questions that arise from the understanding of the nexus as a policy challenge: how do water, energy and agricultural policies impact each other? How can policies be coordinated and harmonized at the European level? Which type of evidence can be used to govern the nexus? How are statistical indicators linked to governance? With this issue, we will be sharing with you some first-hand insights gained from our conversations with European policy makers.
The first article asks: Where do we govern the nexus? Although decisions made in distinct policy areas affect each other, there is no single European Commission (EC) body that governs the sectors of water, energy, food and the environment together. In this article, we share with you the information we learnt talking with policymakers from the EC and related agencies as part of the MAGIC Nexus project.
In the second article, we explore the role of numbers in governance. Numbers matter. Achieving robust quantitative analyses to measure policy effectiveness requires a great deal of time, money and institutional support. But are we paying enough attention to how metrics are influencing governance processes? This article takes a look at quantification through a governance lens to understand how our choices of quantification may affect governance outcomes and what we need to think about to ensure quality metrics when it comes to the nexus.
In our third and final article, we elaborate on one of the main themes of the MAGIC project: Governance In Complexity (the “GIC” of MAGIC). Everybody agrees that the nexus is complex: but what does complexity mean for governance? This article presents some reflections on what it means to govern when knowledge is incomplete, contradictory or even contested. A model of governance that expects to apply “solutions” to clearly identified “problems” assumes that the world is simple. Complexity means letting go of the ideal of command and control.
These articles are aimed at initiating a discussion on the governance challenges of the nexus. We welcome any comment and contribution to the discussion. You use our discussion forum, write to us or follow us on Twitter.
From the MAGIC Nexus Team.
Table of Contents
- Where do we govern the Nexus?
- Governing by numbers
- Complexity in Nexus Governance
ISSUE IV - Outsourcing: implications in a globalized world (March 2018)
In this the latest issue of The Nexus Times we are covering the critical issue of outsourcing and externalization of resources in European industry. The question is, what role does outsourcing play in the effectiveness of EU policies to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, promote renewable energies, increase recycling and reduce environmental impact of agriculture?
Due to the challeges in keeping track of externalized activities, they are difficult to measure and are often kept hidden from public view. In this edition we cover the externalization of waste, energy and water to explore the impacts of externalization from a nexus point of view - that is, from a cross-sectoral, big-picture systems perspective.
From the Magic Nexus team.
Table of Contents
- What if Europe had to process its own waste?
- What if energy imports mattered?
- What if healthy diets had a hidden cost?
ISSUE III - Agriculture and the Nexus (December 2017)
ISSUE II - Efficiency Paradox (September 2017)
Why focus on efficiency?
Efficiency has become a popular measure in many of the policy areas of the European Union, including energy policy, the circular economy and climate policy. However, despite its ubiquitous use, the term efficiency is surrounded by considerable confusion. Indeed, in some cases improvements in efficiency may lead to increased consumption. This edition of The Nexus Times enters in the current debate on efficiency targets with a critical analysis of the term efficiency and its related paradoxes.
In this edition, you will find two articles that discuss the efficiency paradox from different points of view, highlighting some of the challenges that efficiency targets may pose for the governance of the water-energy-food nexus. We also take you through the historical origins and development of the concept of efficiency, and talk about how this concept is used in two of the policy areas that MAGIC is analyzing: energy policy and the circular economy.
These articles are intended to generate a discussion on the use of the term efficiency in setting policy goals. We welcome any comments and contributions to the discussion, including article contributions. To get in touch, please use our discussion forum or write to us.
We hope you enjoy this latest edition of The Nexus Times!
The MAGIC Nexus team.
Table of Contents
- VIDEO: The paradox of energy efficiency
- The paradox of efficiency: Can uncertainty be governed?
- Paradox or Paradigm? A deeper discussion about societal goals
- Is renewable energy efficient?
- From religous concept to industrial tool
- The circular economy: A new efficiency paradox?