T. Albrecht, A.B. Crootof, and C.A. Scott. The water-energy-food (WEF) nexus is rapidly expanding in scholarly literature and policy settings as a novel way to address complex resource and development challenges. The nexus approach aims to identify tradeoffs and synergies of water, energy, and food systems, internalize social and environmental impacts, and guide development of cross-sectoral policies.
Transboundary waters are characterized by diverse and complex socio-politico-economic obstacles to effective water management. We examine five distinct cases in the arid Americas – in locations from the US–Mexico border to the Andes mountains – employing water security as a conceptual prism to unravel the multiple and varied attributes of transboundary water challenges.
The Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework serves as a valuable framework to explore and understand social and ecological interactions, and pathways in water governance. Yet, it lacks a robust understanding of change. We argue an analytical and methodological approach to engaging global changes in SES is critical to strengthening the scope and relevance of the SES framework. Relying on SES and resilience thinking, we propose an institutional and cognitive model of change that institutions and natural resources systems co-evolve to provide a dynamic understanding of SES that stands on three causal mechanisms: institutional complexity trap, rigidity trap, and learning processes.

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