A policy and research agenda has emerged in recent years to understand the interconnected risks natural resource systems face and drive. The so-called ‘Food-Energy-Water’ (FEW) nexus has served as a focal point for the conceptual, theoretical and empirical development of this agenda. This special issue provides an opportunity to reflect on whether natural resource use, as viewed through the FEW-nexus lens, provides a useful basis for guiding integrated environmental management.
Within this piece, we describe how the partiality of the FEW-nexus overlooks major pathways of resource use (i) within the food system and (ii) across the wider burden of human activity. As a result, we argue FEW-centric analysis is more likely to disguise rather than reveal key opportunities for integrated environmental management.