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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

The impact of meeting the sustainable development goals on the water-land-energy nexus in the Isonzo/Soča River Basin

The United Nation's 2023 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reports emphasise the urgency of adopting a system thinking approach to SDG implementation, as the conventional sector-based sustainability strategy often overlooks interlinkages between goals, resulting in inefficiencies in resource management. To address resource management issues and guide sustainability policy, the concept of nexus thinking has recently gained increasing recognition in both academic research and practice development. The nexus approach acknowledges interdependencies among water, land, and energy (W-L-E) resources, aiming to balance natural resource supply and human environmental demands. It also extends sustainability considerations from environmental impact to the socio-economic sphere. However, applications of the nexus approach in sustainable development remain limited. This study aims to bridge this gap by assessing SDG progress in the Isonzo/Soča river basin through a nexus perspective. Two research methods were employed for analysis: causal loop diagrams (CLD) and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). Energy security and irrigation were identified as prominent risks within the transboundary basin and sustainable solutions for both risks were assessed for their potential nexus impacts. The analysis suggested that a diversified renewable energy portfolio and water resources might be required to address the competition in river resource management and minimise nexus impacts. The limitations and further work of this study were discussed, and recommendations were also presented in the paper.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.