Collaborative Gaming to Explore the Water-Land-Carbon-Food-Energy Nexus Challenges in the EU

Joep F. Schyns, Jens Oprel, Bunyod Holmatov, Maarten S. Krol, Charlotte Verburg

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Reconciling the EU policy targets on food and energy security, sustainable and efficient resource use, and climate adaptation is a major challenge due to the many feedbacks in the water-land-carbon-food-energy nexus. In the context of the H2020 MAGIC-NEXUS project, we have developed a collaborative educational nexus game for people with an interest or stake in policy development in the nexus domain, without in-depth prior knowledge to the interactions in the nexus (e.g., EU and national policy makers, MSc and BSc level students). The purpose of the game is to experience the challenges and solutions for member states – as part of a larger economic block – to achieve food & energy security within safe environmental boundaries. Tackling this challenge requires changes in food & energy consumption, production, and trade patterns. Natural resource endownments, consumption habits, and production practices vary widely among the member states. As a consequence they need to focus on taking different measures, and cooperation between the member states is essential to achieve the goals of the economic block. Each player (or team) takes the role of one out of four typical member states distinguished in the game. Players have access to an interactive dashboard to explore the effects their choices have on food & energy dependency and carbon, land and water footprints. Meeting the EU-level targets for food & energy security and reduced carbon emissions is a pre-condition to complete the game, which forces player to cooperate and close agreements. To win, a player needs to reduce the land and water footprints in their member state below sustainable limits. This creates a tension field in the negotiations among players, because it is attractive to externalize footprints to other member states. We will discuss game development and first experiences from playing the game, including a brief demo of the interactive dashboard.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2020
Event10th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, iEMSs 2020: Modelling for Environmental Sustainability - Online Conference, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 14 Sept 202018 Sept 2020
Conference number: 10


Conference10th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, iEMSs 2020
Abbreviated titleiEMSs2020
Internet address


  • serious games; nexus; environmental footprint; sustainability; security

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