Researchers from the University of Exeter are leading a pioneering international research project to deliver new guidance for governments to safeguard long-term provision of crucial natural resources.
Experts from Exeter's Centre for Water Systems and Energy Policy Group are collaborating on the key research project, which aims to investigate how policy makers can develop strategies to meet the challenges that climate change could have on water, food and energy provision.
The team have been awarded a substantial grant worth €700k by the European Commission for the H2020 project SIM4NEXUS (Sustainable Integrated Management FOR the NEXUS of water-land-food-energy-climate for a resource-efficient Europe) – a four-year, €7.9m consortium of 26 partners from 16 European countries.
The project will aim to utilise a variety of different methods, including a Serious Game – a decision-based platform that allows policy makers to play out different scenarios to see what would bring the best outcome – to test and evaluate potential policy decisions.
This Serious Game would cover a vast array of scenarios, from regional to global scale situations over the short, medium and long term.
Professor Dragan Savic, Professor Ed Keedwell and Dr Lydia Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia from the Centre for Water Systems, and Professor Catherine Mitchell from the Energy Policy Group are the University of Exeter's representatives on the project.
The University research team will also lead the UK Case Study (Devon and Cornwall at regional level), together with fellow project partners South West Water The collaboration established in this consortium is a continuation of previous engagement in other EU projects (WASSERMED, WIDEST, PREPARED).
Professor Savic said: "The first step in 'Nexus' policy making is to understand the relationships between water, food and energy in order to be able not only to identify and manage risks more effectively, but also uncover potential opportunities for how to learn to thrive on the resources that are available.
"However as yet, it appears that no comprehensive study in the UK not in Europe has assessed the interaction between the water, food, energy sectors, and it is therefore unclear of the extent of imbalances within the Nexus.
"I'm delighted that we have been given this opportunity not only to work with our European partners, but also to investigate the Nexus and practical implications for a large UK Water Company, such as South West Water."
Lewis Jones, from South West Water added: "We are delighted to be a partner in this multinational, collaborative project. Understanding the water, land, food and energy nexus in the face of climate change and a growing population is a significant challenge for the Westcountry where our unique environment supports both a thriving tourism industry and an extensive agriculture industry. Protecting this environment and providing resilient water and wastewater services for the region will be crucial to a sustainable future."