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Sustainability News

June 8, 2021

Sustainability scientist and GIOSI deputy director Dave White and recent School of Sustainability PhD graduate J. Leah Jones published a paper, A social network analysis of collaborative governance for the food-energy-water nexus in Phoenix, AZ, USA, in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

The authors conducted a social network analysis of food-energy-water nexus governance in the Phoenix metropolitan area, as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Professor Ross Maciejewski from the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering. The social network analysis revealed challenges to collaborative governance of FEW nexus stakeholders, such as limited trust between actors. However, the research found that by leveraging bridging there are opportunities to increase collaborative governance between sectors. This study was a component of Jones’ dissertation.

The abstract follows.

Despite the known benefits of integrated policy and planning, traditional governance decisions in the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus are often made without cross-sector collaboration, potentially leading to unintended consequences and decreased resource security. Applying collaborative governance approaches to the FEW nexus provides an opportunity to shift towards integrated policy of food, energy, and water governance; doing so first requires an understanding of the limitations of current governance structures and the opportunities for change. We conduct a social network analysis of stakeholders in Phoenix, AZ using secondary data sources to construct the social network of collaboration and to analyze the ability of the governance landscape to facilitate or hinder collaborative governance. The social network measures indicate potential challenges to collaborative governance of FEW nexus stakeholders, such as limited trust between actors. However, leveraging bridging actors provides opportunities to increase collaborative governance between sectors. This research is important for implementing collaborative FEW nexus governance in practice.