Nexusing Water, Energy and Food to Increase Resilience in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area

Lourens Swart

Master’s student at Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University

I am a Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Sustainability Transitions (CST), a position which I began after completing an MPhil in Sustainable Development (cum laude) while working at the Western-Cape Economic Development Partnership (WCEDP) as an embedded researcher. For my MPhil thesis, I researched the water, energy and food (WEF) nexus in Cape Town, with Mark Swilling and Amanda Gcanga as supervisors. As part of an international interdisciplinary research consortium that includes Stellenbosch University, Utrecht University and the University of the Western Cape, the project explores six case studies to develop a WEF nexus approach that increases resilience capabilities in the Cape Town Metropolitan region.


As part of the project, I lead the V&A Waterfront case study, using a transdisciplinary research design to specifically explore an existing WEF nexus governance approach’s practical, socio-economic and governance implications. The approach is enabled by GCX DASH- an ESG, resource and financial monitoring system that allows the material flow analysis (MFA) of resources to act as a decision support system (DSS) that catalyses improved governance. These practical, social and governance implications are then explored to interpret if they, and by association, the system that allows the approach, hold any potential to enhance the capacity to govern for resilience in the Cape Town context.