Panel 6. Integration of Water, Energy and Food systems as an opportunity for resilience: institutions, spaces, and social justice

To make our planet more resilient, our food, water and energy systems need to be more resilient. The systemic integration of these domains - what has now become known as the Water-Energy-Food nexus - requires transformative partnerships that take cross-sectoral collaboration as a starting point. The capacity for resilience, however, greatly hinges on the spatial claims of water, energy and food systems. Building resilience in these domains in isolation can breed conflict over space in terms of land and water, and as such may benefit from a move towards more spatial integration. Next to achieving synergies, better spatial use efficiency and cost reduction, one of the assumptions underlying the pursuit for spatial integration is that it will elicit enhanced legitimacy and social and spatial justice for a sustainable future. The success of such spatial integration, however, greatly depends on the ability of institutional arrangements to facilitate transformative partnerships, and on the ability of the latter to foster changes to the very systems in which they operate.

This panel aims to explore general conditions, institutional mechanisms, and the role of digital tools in supporting a shift towards integrative and adaptive institutional arrangements by facilitating transformative partnerships in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus. Civil society, governments, businesses and public utilities need to step across invisible but persistent boundaries and build transformative partnerships that produce programmes that are innovative, resilient, adaptive, and just in social and spatial terms. This panel provides a venue to start exchanging thoughts and ideas across different fields in public policy, social geography, and land use planning.

The panel addresses questions such as:

  • What institutional mechanisms impede or foster transformative partnerships?
  • How can new collaborations between actors across the water, energy, food systems foster systemic transformation from within, instead of responding to exogenous influences?
  • What is needed to entrench instances of transformative partnerships on a systemic level?
  • How can interactive geospatial tools and planning support systems help to facilitate the process of cross-sectoral and spatial integration?
  • What may concepts of energy justice, food security and water rights contribute to designing socially and spatially just integrations in water, energy and food sectors?
  • To what extent may the integration of (renewable) energy systems with water management and food provision enhance social and spatial justice?