Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the resource nexus. This has created the co-existence of different understandings and uses of the concept. In this regard, experiences in the EU H2020 project ‘Moving towards adaptive governance in complexity: Informing nexus security’ are consistent with findings reported in the literature: (i) The inconvenient message of the nexus is difficult to get across, it being incompatible with the currently dominant rosy narratives about sustainability. Indeed, from a historic perspective, the nexus can be seen as a revival of the ideological fight between cornucopians and neo-Malthusians; (ii) Silo structures in existing institutions are a problem for the governance of the nexus, and so is the resulting reductionist strategy of addressing and fixing one issue at the time; (iii) Scientific inquiry is currently not providing the quality inputs needed for a meaningful discussion of the resource nexus. Entanglement of resource flows is rooted in the complex metabolic pattern of social-ecological systems, the analysis of which requires a complex systems approach and relational analysis. Contemporary reductionist models simply make the nexus invisible to the analyst.
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