Athauda, Nelsha Zozmann, Heinrich Maiwald, Linda Klassert, Christian Klauer, Bernd
Year of Publication:
UFZ Discussion Paper No. 2/2022
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ), Leipzig
[Background] The 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development made the first call for the creation of sustainability indicators to measure the changes in the social, economic, political, and physical factors of sustainability. Different concepts of carbon (Rees, 1992) and water footprints (Hoekstra, 2011) have emerged as indicators that provide stakeholders with easily understandable information on the environmental effects of their resource consumption. However, footprint models are usually focused on measuring the extent to which a single resource is used which provides limited information on the interdependencies between intertwined resource systems. Resource systems are frequently integrated and dependent on each other. A particular example of this, which received significant attention in recent years, is the nexus between food, water, and energy (FWE) (Daher & Mohtar, 2012). One example out of many potential interdependencies among FWE resources is the impact of energy cost on irrigated agriculture, which can in turn affect the availability of certain food crops (Komendantova et al., 2020). Such interdependencies within the nexus have not received sufficient attention in research so far, despite their importance for finding pathways towards sustainable resource use. The Nexus Footprint is an emerging indicator (Maiwald, 2021; Shu et al., 2021; Wahl et al., 2021) that aims to quantify the intersections within the highly interconnected FWE web of a given region. The set of values comprising the Nexus footprint are the values for the direct consumption of food, water, and energy, as well as the water footprint of food, the water footprint of energy, the carbon footprint of food, and the carbon footprint of water. The purpose of the Nexus Footprint model is to provide values allowing stakeholders to identify and visualize trends in urban resource consumption as well as to provide a scientific basis for objective comparison (Wahl et al., 2021).