SDG Implementation through Technology? Governing Food-Water-Technology Nexus Challenges in Urban Agriculture

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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SDG Implementation through Technology? Governing Food-Water-Technology Nexus Challenges in Urban Agriculture


  • Sandra Schwindenhammer Institute of Political Science, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany
  • Denise Gonglach Institute of Political Science, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany


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Abstract:  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizes the importance of technology as a pillar for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Technology innovation promises benefits especially for the implementation of SDG 2 to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Contributing to current debates on SDG implementation, technology innovation, and cross-sectoral governance, we argue that technology innovation carries both the potential to contribute to global goal implementation and the risk of posing new governance challenges. Applying a food-water-technology nexus (FWTN) perspective, we conduct a case study on an emerging technology in urban agricultural production in Germany. The technology connects the wastewater treatment system and the agricultural production system and projects the transformation of a conventional sewage treatment plant into a ‘NEWtrient®-Center,’ which draws the essential resources for urban hydroponic plant cultivation from municipal wastewater. Building on qualitative and participatory research methods, the study provides deeper insights into the governance implications of FWTN issues stemming from the emerging technology. The analysis shows that this technology has the potential to facilitate SDG implementation, but simultaneously fuels new sector interlinkages between water and food and policy demands that substantiate the need for more integrated policymaking to ensure the smart use of technology to reach the SDGs.

Keywords:  cross-sectoral governance; food-water-technology nexus; Germany; participatory research method; SDG implementation; technology innovation; urban agriculture; wastewater treatment

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i1.3590


© Sandra Schwindenhammer, Denise Gonglach. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.