A nexus perspective on competing land demands: Wider lessons from a UK policy case study

Maria Sharmina, Claire Hoolohan, Alice Bows-Larkin, Paul J. Burgess, James Colwill, Paul Gilbert, David Howard, Jerry Knox, Kevin Anderson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    As nations develop policies for low-carbon transitions, conflicts with existing policies and planning tools are leading to competing demands for land and other resources. This raises fundamental questions over how multiple demands can best be managed. Taking the UK as an empirical example, this paper critiques current policies and practices to explore the interdependencies at the water-energy-food nexus. It considers how current land uses and related policies affect the UK’s resilience to climate change, setting out an agenda for research and practice relevant to stakeholders in land-use management, policy and modelling. Despite recent progress in recognising such nexus challenges, most UK land-related policies and associated science continue to be compartmentalised by both scale and sector and seldom acknowledge nexus interconnections. On a temporal level, the absence of an over-arching strategy leaves inter-generational trade-offs poorly considered. Given the system lock-in and the lengthy policy-making process, it is essential to develop alternative ways of providing dynamic, flexible, practical and scientifically robust decision support for policy-makers. A range of ecosystem services need to be valued and integrated into a resilient land-use strategy, including the introduction of non-monetary, physical-unit constraints on the use of particular services.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)74-84
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
    Early online date26 Feb 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


    • Climate change
    • Ecosystem services
    • Land use policy
    • Nexus
    • Resilience
    • Water-energy-food


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