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Integrated Solutions for the Water-Energy-Land Nexus: Are Global Models Rising to the Challenge?

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), 20123 Milano, Italy
Institute of Hydrological Engineering and Water Management, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany
Department of Environmental Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, College Park, MD 20740, USA
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Wageningen Economic Research, 2595 BM Den Haag, The Netherlands
Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, 3584 CB Utrecht, The Netherlands
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, 2594 AV Den Haag, The Netherlands
Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, 3584 CB Utrecht, The Netherlands
International Water Management Institute (IWMI), 10120 Colombo, Sri Lanka
Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic), University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(11), 2223;
Received: 21 September 2019 / Revised: 20 October 2019 / Accepted: 21 October 2019 / Published: 25 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrated Assessment of the Water–Energy–Land Nexus)
Increasing human demands for water, energy, food and materials, are expected to accentuate resource supply challenges over the coming decades. Experience suggests that long-term strategies for a single sector could yield both trade-offs and synergies for other sectors. Thus, long-term transition pathways for linked resource systems should be informed using nexus approaches. Global integrated assessment models can represent the synergies and trade-offs inherent in the exploitation of water, energy and land (WEL) resources, including the impacts of international trade and climate policies. In this study, we review the current state-of-the-science in global integrated assessment modeling with an emphasis on how models have incorporated integrated WEL solutions. A large-scale assessment of the relevant literature was performed using online databases and structured keyword search queries. The results point to the following main opportunities for future research and model development: (1) improving the temporal and spatial resolution of economic models for the energy and water sectors; (2) balancing energy and land requirements across sectors; (3) integrated representation of the role of distribution infrastructure in alleviating resource challenges; (4) modeling of solution impacts on downstream environmental quality; (5) improved representation of the implementation challenges stemming from regional financial and institutional capacity; (6) enabling dynamic multi-sectoral vulnerability and adaptation needs assessment; and (7) the development of fully-coupled assessment frameworks based on consistent, scalable, and regionally-transferable platforms. Improved database management and computational power are needed to address many of these modeling challenges at a global-scale. View Full-Text
Keywords: integrated assessment modeling; global change; sustainable development; water futures; energy transformations; land-use change integrated assessment modeling; global change; sustainable development; water futures; energy transformations; land-use change
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Johnson, N.; Burek, P.; Byers, E.; Falchetta, G.; Flörke, M.; Fujimori, S.; Havlik, P.; Hejazi, M.; Hunt, J.; Krey, V.; Langan, S.; Nakicenovic, N.; Palazzo, A.; Popp, A.; Riahi, K.; van Dijk, M.; van Vliet, M.T.; van Vuuren, D.P.; Wada, Y.; Wiberg, D.; Willaarts, B.; Zimm, C.; Parkinson, S. Integrated Solutions for the Water-Energy-Land Nexus: Are Global Models Rising to the Challenge? Water 2019, 11, 2223.

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