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A research agenda for the energy, water, land, and climate nexus


In an area with as many connections as the energy, water, land, and climate nexus, it can be a challenge to identify the highest priority research opportunities. In collaboration with the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), we undertook a process to isolate and rank a wide variety of potential research topics. Using several forms of Delphic processes, we engaged experts working on related topics to work with us to develop a short list of 15 priority research topics. We briefly describe the process we used, the challenges with developing topics that encompass all of the elements of the energy-water-land-climate (EWLC) nexus, and present the final list, which is intended to be a discussion starter rather than a definitive list. We found that it is relatively easy to identify research topics that touch one or two elements of the nexus, but difficult to identify ones that truly cover the nexus. Priorities identified by our participants in the process include improving policy and planning, understanding human behavior, enhancing data and modeling, managing risk, and understanding regional differences.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    We use this permutation to describe the nexus rather than the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus to be consistent with the National Climate Assessment, the principal product of the USGCRP, our partner in this exercise.


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Correspondence to Paul Faeth.

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Faeth, P., Hanson, L. A research agenda for the energy, water, land, and climate nexus. J Environ Stud Sci 6, 123–126 (2016).

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  • Energy
  • Water
  • Land
  • Food
  • Climate
  • Nexus
  • Research