Research priorities for managing the impacts and dependencies of business upon food, energy, water and the environment
Delivering access to sufficient food, energy and water resources to ensure human wellbeing is a major concern for governments worldwide. However, it is crucial to account for the ‘nexus’ of interactions between these natural resources and the consequent implications for human wellbeing. The private sector has a critical role in driving positive change towards more sustainable nexus management and could reap considerable benefits from collaboration with researchers to devise solutions to some of the foremost sustainability challenges of today. Yet opportunities are missed because the private sector is rarely involved in the formulation of deliverable research priorities. We convened senior research scientists and influential business leaders to collaboratively identify the top forty questions that, if answered, would best help companies understand and manage their food-energy-water-environment nexus dependencies and impacts. Codification of the top order nexus themes highlighted research priorities around development of pragmatic yet credible tools that allow businesses to incorporate nexus interactions into their decision-making; demonstration of the business case for more sustainable nexus management; identification of the most effective levers for behaviour change; and understanding incentives or circumstances that allow individuals and businesses to take a leadership stance. Greater investment in the complex but productive relations between the private sector and research community will create deeper and more meaningful collaboration and cooperation.