Skip Navigation Links
Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management
António Mendes Lopes (editor), Jiazhong Zhang(editor)
António Mendes Lopes (editor)

University of Porto, Portugal


Jiazhong Zhang (editor)

School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province 710049, China

Fax: +86 29 82668723 Email:

Coordination Analysis of Urban Water-Energy-Food Nexus Based on Policy Regulation

Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management 12(1) (2024) 87--99 | DOI:10.5890/JEAM.2024.03.005

Chengkang Gao$^1$, Meng Yu$^1$, Shuaibing Zhang$^2$, Sulong Zhu$^1$, Hongming Na$^1$, Xiaojun Li$^3$

Download Full Text PDF



As the rapid population and socio-economic growth together with the shortage of resources such as water, energy, and food. The shortage of resources made serious challenges for the management department of water, energy, and food in cities. A metabolic network of water, energy and food in cities was established in this study according to the material flow analysis method. The metabolic characteristics of water, energy and food in the socio-economic system of Guangzhou from 2013 to 2017 were quantitatively analyzed, and evaluation indicators were established for the development status of the city. A kinetic model of the Water-Energy-Food system in Guangzhou was constructed to simulate and predict the future development trend of resource demand in Guangzhou with different policy regulations. It was found that the total water resources of Guangzhou decreased from 6.84$\mathrm{\times}$10${}^{9}$ m3 to 6.53$\mathrm{\times}$10${}^{9}$ m3 from 2013-2017. The total energy input increased from 5.38$\mathrm{\times}$10${}^{7}$ tce to 6.23$\mathrm{\times}$10${}^{7}$ tce, an increase of about 15.9\%, and the food (N) input increased by 1.06$\times$10${}^{5}$ t from 1.06$\times$10${}^{5}$ t, an increase of about 44.4\%. It further indicates that the sustainable development potential of the WEF system in Guangzhou was strong. By increasing the proportion of recycled water reuse, promoting waste separation, improving the resource utilization rate of waste, and implementing strict electricity consumption policies, water demand of 51.25$\mathrm{\times}$10${}^{8}$ m3, the energy demand of 7.27$\times$10${}^{7}$ tce, the total food (N) demand of 6.85$\times$10${}^{4}$ t, and the total waste (N) entering the environment of 1.09$\times$10${}^{5}$ t in 2030 in Guangzhou. Hence, 25\% increase in the utilization rate of recycled water, 2\% increase in electricity price, 50\% increase in the utilization rate of waste recycling are selected as sustainable water, energy and food resources management policies.


The authors are grateful for the financial support provided by The National Natural Science Foundation of China (41871212), Guiding Project of Key Scientific Research in Central Universities (N2025008), Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition and Research Program (STEP) (2019QZKK1003).


  1. [1]  Logan, B. (2015), Urgency at the nexus of food, energy and water systems, Environmental Science $\&$ Technology Letters, 2(6), 149-150.
  2. [2]  Council, N. (2013), Global trends 2030: Alternative worlds, Global Trends 2030: Transformational Trajectories and Their Implications, 1-134.
  3. [3]  Albrecht, T., Crootof, A., and Scott, C. (2018), The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A systematic review of methods for nexus assessment, Environmental Research Letters, 13(4), 043002.
  4. [4]  Endo, A., Tsurita, I., Burnett, K., and Orencio, P.M. (2017), A review of the current state of research on the water, energy, and food nexus, Journal of hydrology. Regional studies, 11, 20-30.
  5. [5]  Di Martino, M., Avraamidou, S., Cook, J., and Pistikopoulos, E.N. (2021), An optimization framework for the design of reverse osmosis desalination plants under food-energy-water nexus considerations, Desalination, 503, 114937.
  6. [6]  Fetanat, A., Tayebi, M., and Mofid, H. (2021), Water-energy-food security nexus based selection of energy recovery from wastewater treatment technologies: An extended decision making framework under intuitionistic fuzzy environment, Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, 43, 100937.
  7. [7]  Keyhanpour, M.J., Musavi Jahromi, S.H., and Ebrahimi, H. (2021), System dynamics model of sustainable water resources management using the Nexus Water-Food-Energy approach, Ain Shams Engineering Journal, 12(2), 1267-1281.
  8. [8]  Rosales-Asensio, E., de la Puente-Gil, {A}., Garc{i}a-Moya, F.-J., Blanes-Peir{o}, J., and de Sim{o}n-Mart{i}n, M. (2020). Decision-making tools for sustainable planning and conceptual framework for the energy-water-food nexus, Energy Reports, 6, 4-15.
  9. [9]  Tabatabaie, S.M.H. and Murthy, G.S. (2021), Development of an input-output model for food-energy-water nexus in the pacific northwest, USA, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 168, 105267.
  10. [10]  Cottee, J., Lopez-Aviles, A., Behzadian, K., Bradley, D., Butler, D., Downing, C., Farmani, R., Ingram, J., Leach, M., Pike, A., Propris, L., Purvis, L., Robinson, P., and Yang, A. (2016), The local nexus network: Exploring the future of localised food systems and associated energy and water supply, Sustainable Design and Manufacturing, 52, 613-624.
  11. [11]  De Strasser, L., Annukka, L., Howells, M., Stec, S., and Br{e}thaut, C. (2016), A methodology to assess the water energy food ecosystems nexus in transboundary river basins, Water, 8(2), 59.
  12. [12]  Karabulut, A., Egoh, B.N., Lanzanova, D., Grizzetti, B., Bidoglio, G., Pagliero, L., Bouraoui, F., Aloe, A., Reynaud, A., Maes, J., Vandecasteele, I., and Mubareka, S. (2016), Mapping water provisioning services to support the ecosystem-water-food-energy nexus in the Danube river basin. Ecosystem Services, 17, 278-292.
  13. [13]  Xiao, Z., Yao, M., Tang, X., and Sun, L. (2019), Identifying critical supply chains: An input-output analysis for Food-Energy-Water Nexus in China, Ecological Modelling, 392, 31-37.
  14. [14]  Saladini, F., Betti, G., Ferragina, E., Bouraoui, F., Cupertino, S., Canitano, G., Gigliotti, M., Autino, A., Pulselli, F.M., Riccaboni, A., Bidoglio, G., and Bastianoni, S. (2018), Linking the water-energy-food nexus and sustainable development indicators for the Mediterranean region, Ecological Indicators, 91, 689-697.
  15. [15]  Chamas, Z., Abou Najm, M., Al-Hindi, M., Yassine, A., and Khattar, R. (2021), Sustainable resource optimization under water-energy-food-carbon nexus, Journal of Cleaner Production, 278, 123894.
  16. [16]  Cansino-Loeza, B. and Ponce-Ortega, J.M. (2021), Sustainable assessment of Water-Energy-Food Nexus at regional level through a multi-stakeholder optimization approach, Journal of Cleaner Production, 290, 125194.
  17. [17]  Djehdian, L.A., Chini, C.M., Marston, L., Konar, M., and Stillwell, A.S. (2019), Exposure of urban food-energy-water (FEW) systems to water scarcity, Sustainable Cities and Society, 50, 101621.
  18. [18]  Zhang, P., Zhang, L., Chang, Y., Xu, M., Hao, Y., Liang, S., Liu, G., Yang, Z., and Wang, C. (2019), Food-energy-water (FEW) nexus for urban sustainability: A comprehensive review, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 142, 215-224.
  19. [19]  Gondhalekar, D. and Ramsauer, T. (2017), Nexus City: Operationalizing the urban Water-Energy-Food Nexus for climate change adaptation in Munich, Germany, Urban Climate, 19, 28-40.
  20. [20]  Nhamo, L., Mabhaudhi, T., Mpandeli, S., Dickens, C., Nhemachena, C., Senzanje, A., Naidoo, D., Liphadzi, S., and Modi, A.T. (2020), An integrative analytical model for the water-energy-food nexus: South Africa case study, Environmental Science $\&$ Policy, 109, 15-24.
  21. [21]  Paiho, S., Wessberg, N., Pippuri-M\"{a}kel\"{a}inen, J., M\"{a}ki, E., Sokka, L., Parviainen, T., Nikinmaa, M., Siikavirta, H., Paavola, M., Antikainen, M., Heikkil\"{a}, J., Hajduk, P., and Laurikko, J. (2021), Creating a Circular City-An analysis of potential transportation, energy and food solutions in a case district, Sustainable Cities and Society, 64, 102529.
  22. [22]  Cui, S., Shi, Y., Malik, A., Lenzen, M., Gao, B., and Huang, W. (2016), A hybrid method for quantifying China's nitrogen footprint during urbanisation from 1990 to 2009, Environment International, 97, 137-145.
  23. [23]  Ju, M., Osako, M., and Harashina, S. (2016), Quantitative analysis of food products allocation into food consumption styles for material flow analysis of food, Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management, 18, 589-597.
  24. [24]  Shindo, J. and Yanagawa, A. (2017), Top-down approach to estimating the nitrogen footprint of food in Japan, Ecological Indicators, 78, 502-511.