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Avellán, T., Hahn, A., Kirschke, S., Müller, A., Benavides, L., & Caucci, S. (2022). Co-Generating Knowledge in Nexus Research for Sustainable Wastewater Treatment. Resources, 11(10), 93.

Co-generating knowledge in nexus research for sustainable wastewater treatment

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Author: Avellán, Tamara1; Hahn, Angela1; Kirschke, Sabrina1;
Organizations: 1Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES), United Nations University, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-03-08


Currently installed wastewater treatment systems in many developing countries are unsustainable, failing in either the social, economic or ecological dimension of sustainability. Nexus research looking at resources involved in wastewater treatment could support the transition towards more sustainable systems. Nexus thinking aims to overcome bio-physical systems thinking by including transdisciplinary research methods. Approaches for integrating results from different types of analysis and disciplinary backgrounds are scarce and have not been described extensively in nexus research. Transdisciplinary research suggests creating system, target and transformation knowledge as a common framework to describe meaningful transformations. Our goal is to show how a better understanding of the level of knowledge created by different types of analysis can pave the way towards integrating results for sustainability. In this article, three types of analysis, namely sustainability assessment, stakeholder perspective analysis and wickedness analysis, were applied in two pilot case wastewater treatment systems in Latin America. Through a three-step process, generated knowledge was assessed for each type of analysis individually while also highlighting synergies between them. The results demonstrate that structuring results by generated knowledge type can help combining outcomes in a meaningful manner. The findings show that technical flaws are present and fixable, and that issues relating to behaviours or values are more challenging to address but arguably more meaningful for systemic change.

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Series: Resources
ISSN: 2079-9276
ISSN-E: 2079-9276
ISSN-L: 2079-9276
Volume: 11
Issue: 10
Article number: 93
DOI: 10.3390/resources11100093
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
Funding: This research was funded by the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, (BMBF) under the grant number 01DF17001. The Guatemalan Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología provided support to the researchers of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala and financed, in part, the Assessment Workshop in Panajachel in March 2018. The Fideicomiso de Infraestructura Ambiental para los Valles de Hidalgo (FIAVHI) provided support to the participation of Mexican stakeholders to the Assessment Workshop and access to their premises.
Dataset Reference: Supplementary materials:
Copyright information: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (