An Energy-Water-Food Nexus-based Decision-making Framework to Guide National Priorities in Qatar

Elsevier, Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 75, December 2021
Authors: 
Namany S., Govindan R., Martino M.D., Pistikopoulos E.N., Linke P., Avraamidou S. et al.

Efficient resource management and the development of resilient societies begins with an accurate identification of strengths and weaknesses of systems involved. Conducting a holistic performance analysis considering multiple assessment criteria permits the detection of discrepancies hindering systems productivity. In this study, an integrative assessment tool, based on the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) and the energy, water, and food (EWF) nexus is used to design a decision-making scheme that guides policymakers in establishing national priorities and sectorial strategies. The tool considers critical systems of the economy that necessitate urgent management by investigating their sustainability, security, and resilience levels. The developed methodology has been applied to assess the performance of the EWF sectors in the State of Qatar. From a national level perspective, findings of this research indicate that the resilience pillar outweighs in criticality the security and sustainability of the overall EWF nexus, which implies the need to further develop risk mitigation plans and response strategies. Considering sectorial level performances, results of this work have unveiled the vulnerability of the three nexus sectors, particularly water and food, faced to internal and external risks. This is represented by integrated resilience indexes of 0.21, 0.17 and 0.10 for the food, water, and energy sectors, respectively. The water system has also displayed a low security level, represented by a high criticality score of 0.14 in comparison with the food and energy sectors. As for the sustainability pillar, the food system, due to its continuous agricultural intensification is the least sustainable with an integrated index of 0.13. Those findings provide an impetus for policymakers to deploy future investments that secure stable and resilient availability of water and food resources. The energy sector, backed by abundant natural gas reserves, does not necessitate significant attention, however, it requires a continuous monitoring being an essential driver for both the water and food systems. Results of this study offer a generic roadmap that can be followed by countries to set national priorities based on evidence-informed performance assessments reflecting resources ‘conditions optimal and cost-effective decisions that meet the need of the targeted population.