IWA Publishing

Book Summary: Governing the Nexus: Water, Soil and Waste Resources Considering Global Change

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A recent collection edited by Mathew Kurian and Reza Ardakanian examines the integrated management, of water, soil and waste.

This edited volume by authors from multiple disciplines promotes the nexus approach as a policy-relevant means of environmental management by focusing on integrated management of water, soil and waste resources. It moves discussions on the nexus approach from a largely biophysical focus towards the institutional sphere and is therefore particularly relevant for readers with an interest in the policy aspects of sustainable resource management in UN member states.The book is edited by members of the recently established UNU-FLORES Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources in Dresden, Germany. “The nexus conceptually links multiple resource-use practices and serves paradigmatically to understand interrelations among such practices that were previously considered in isolation.” The chapters focus particularly on institutional arrangements and governance structures that can advance the promising, yet relatively new and thus under-explored, nexus approach in the light of urbanization, climate change and demographic changes. Authors question intersections between and within biophysical and institutional environments, look at feedback loops and interactions between them, and ask how hybrid, trans-disciplinary capacities can enhance nexus competencies and lead to a more integrated form of resource governance.

The book provides a comprehensive and nuanced view of the state-of-the art of this approach by giving a historical perspective; comparing and contrasting it with similar approaches and perspectives on integrated resource fluxes; and scoping out current challenges and potential ways forward.

Throughout the book, practical examples of policy challenges – e.g. how to foster wastewater irrigation systems – illustrate how the more integrative perspective on water–waste– soil enables more integrative views in the discussion of sustainable resource management, and how ignoring this perspective seriously threatens human wellbeing. For example, authors expand the current focus on the water–energy–food nexus to water–waste–soil; scrutinize fiscal policies relating to accountability and autonomy of alternative forms of service delivery that are available and affordable to all; raise awareness of the role of life cycle cost approaches and their mainstreaming across governance levels to provide sustainable services, particularly in low-income countries; and deal with data visualization challenges such as in the example of water point mapping in Tanzania.

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