Linked Indicators for Vital Ecosystem Services (LIVES)

Integrated management of water, food and energy resources

Linked Indicators for Vital Ecosystem Services

Achieving water, food and energy security is critical to sustainable development. Faced with burgeoning population growth, increasing demand for food and energy, and growing water shortages, balanced decision making on resource management is ever more critical.

Understanding shared risks is critical to achieving more effective and equitable resource management. As we exert pressure on an unstable set of complex, interdependent systems providing food, energy and water, there is an increasing need for reliable information to mitigate and adapt to risks that we create through resource allocation choices.  

A major challenge is that current decision support tools do not bridge silos between multiple sciences, different knowledge and often competing policy goals, nor do they support forward-looking decision making where there is very little certainty about the future.

With the support of the NOMIS Foundation, the Luc Hoffmann Institute is exploring a new methodology for integrating diverse science and knowledge to support policy makers with actionable information on food-energy-water risks, for today and tomorrow.

The Linked Indicators for Vital Ecosystem Services (LIVES) project tests various ways of identifying ‘linked indicators’ for joint governance, planning and management of food, energy and water resources, to be used by institutions responsible for river basin management. The project questions how we combine ‘hard’ science with social science to provide knowledge that is useful and used. It aims for improved coherency in river basin planning so that risks are better identified and managed for the benefit of biodiversity and human well-being.  

To date, the project has produced new science on integrated development planning as a solution to food-energy-water trade-offs. The first phase of the project in Cambodia demonstrates how mindset shifts, capacity development and policy changes are possible when stakeholders are involved in the research.
We are grounding our scientific analysis in a combination of social science approaches that focus on early decision-maker engagement and participatory processes to identify water-energy-food linkages, key monitoring requirements and viable options for action. The project is now in its second phase, testing the prototype methodology and continuing field explorations in Cambodia and Colombia.

Main Image: Magic Pencil

Project partners

Project leaders

Dr Louise Gallagher (Luc Hoffmann Institute), Dr Christian Brethaut (University of Geneva) Dr Andrea Bassi (KnowlEdge Srl.), Naroeun Rin (WWF Cambodia), Dr Michele Thieme (WWF US), Karina Watkins (WWF Cambodia), Andrea Betancourt (Luc Hoffmann Institute).

Project advisory group

Prof. Pal Davidson (University of Bergen); Prof. Bill Dennison (University of Maryland); Dr. James Dalton (IUCN); Chandet Horm (WWF Cambodia).

Project development

The concept was proposed to the NOMIS Foundation, led by LHI and WWF International

Related reading

LHI, WWF US, WWF Cambodia, WWF Colombia, Humboldt Institute, Royal University of Phnom Penh, KnowlEdge, UMCES and University of Bergen met to advance the management and sustainability of river basins: read the Annapolis Workshop Newsletter (03.23.17) for more information.

Chris JohnsonLinked Indicators for Vital Ecosystem Services