Nexus Shocks are low probability, high impact events that span energy, water and food systems. They impact multiple actors, scales and disciplines making them complex to understand and uncertain to address.
The Nexus Shocks Network, led by Dr Candice Howarth from the University of Surrey, brings together interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial expertise to engage in constructive dialogue, identify opportunities to address challenges, and better inform decision making in response to nexus shocks.
A research paper presenting the findings from the five themed workshops carried out as part of the Nexus Network Nexus Shocks network, is published by Candice Howarth and Irene Monasterolo, from Boston University, USA
Understanding barriers to decision making in the UK energy-food-water nexus: The added value of interdisciplinary approaches is published in Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 61, July 2016, Pages 53–60. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2016.03.014
What are nexus shocks?
As part of this we assessed how to define nexus shocks and rather than a clear definition, we agreed on a broad narrative on how these shocks are low probability, high impact events that span energy, water and food systems.
They impact multiple actors and scales making them complex to understand and difficult to address, and importantly they represent systemic and cascading risks in both physical and social systems. These types of events are likely to become more frequent given physical trends such as climate change and economic trends including increased globalisation which in itself builds both robustness and fragility.
Five workshops were held between September and October 2015 to explore strategies for effective decision making on Nexus Shocks with interested actors across different sectors:
- Predicting shocks and hazards – in collaboration with the Met Office.
- Transmission and mitigation of risk though infrastructure – in collaboration with Atkins.
- Insurance and finance for resilience – in collaboration with Lloyds of London & Willis RE.
- Local business responses to shocks – in collaboration with Climate UK.
- Governance, governments and shocks – in collaboration with Chatham House.
The final Nexus Shocks event was a half day symposium on Monday 30 November 2015 in London, where the future aim, scope and strategy of the network, was outlined, informed by discussions from five previous workshops.
Findings and challenges
The transdisciplinary nature of nexus shock decision making is central to the work of the Nexus Shocks Network as a group of committed stakeholders. We believe that developing physical science models to better predict endogenous nexus shocks, while vital, will not contribute to a more resilient society without the equivalent effort in capturing lessons from social sciences as well as engaging those actually involved in decision making from business, government and not-for-profit organisations right at the start.
A number of challenges from communication to ownership of impacts were identified during the discussions but so were a host of potential solutions. The challenges associated for example with different languages and lexicons used to communicate impacts and responses to nexus shocks across different stakeholders and sectors required flexibility, time and sustained engagement in the design of our work, the facilitation of workshops and reporting back to our funders and with members of the Network.
The Nexus Shocks Network continues
The Nexus Shocks Network will continue to act as a bridge between academics and experts in the public and private sectors. It will explore ways to assess methods for capturing relevant data, taking into account the priorities of the stakeholder groups and aims to help construct what ‘good’ decision making in response to nexus shocks looks like.
- Who owns the impacts from nexus shocks?
Who pays for resilience?
How can judgment based decision-making be better informed by evidence from both physical and social sciences?
How to we judge a good decision?
All these are questions we continue to explore whilst allowing space and time for reflection and flexibility in our approach and in the context within which nexus shocks occur.
More details on the activities of the Network are available in the report Nexus Shocks Network What We Are Learning_CandiceH
For more information on the Nexus Shocks Network contact Dr Candice Howarth at University of Surrey.
other networking grants
Read more about the other 5 networking grants.