Economic prosperity and well-being are closely linked to the efficient and sustainable management of our natural resources. Global trends, in particular population growth and economic expansion, are expected to increase the demand for water, energy, and food as well as their interdependence. Consequently, supplies of these vital interconnected resources are becoming less secure. The main goal of water-energy-food-environment nexus studies is to improve system efficiency and achieve sustainability through an integrated understanding and management of those resources.
GoNEXUS is a 4-year Horizon 2020 project supported by the European Commission. Through 8 in-depth case studies using river basins in Europe and Africa, its researchers will collaborate with stakeholders to re-balance water, food, energy, and ecosystems. The data from these case studies will be used to create scenarios for future impacts on the global and continental levels as well as for the climate and policy areas. GoNEXUS will develop an evaluation framework to design and assess innovative solutions for an efficient and sustainable coordinated governance of the water-energy-food-ecosystem nexus.
Over the course of the project, GoNEXUS researchers will carry out 8 case studies. 6 will examine river basins in Europe and Africa, while the other 2 will look into the global and continental (EU) factors related to the WEFE nexus. The results from each of those studies will form the basis of the discussions for the nexus dialogues, a series of workshops held with stakeholders throughout the project. The data collected will also feed into the future scenarios.
Nexus dialogues are participatory engagement sessions to collect information from local stakeholders. These two-way discussions will help us gain an in-depth understanding of the local state of play for each river basin as well as European and global implications. Through a series of workshops, we will identify existing conflicts and challenging trade-offs, incoherent sectoral policies, synergies, and uncertainties. The outcomes of the dialogues will support the co-design of scenarios, models, and solutions throughout the project and beyond.
To chart possible outcomes, GoNEXUS researchers will develop a series of future projections for the period of 2020-2030 and beyond. These scenarios will cover climate, global land and socio-economic factors, continental land and socio-economic factors and policy. They will be based on existing datasets combined with stakeholder knowledge stemming from the NEXUS dialogue workshops. The outcomes of each of the scenarios will be presented in the form of fact sheets and policy briefs which will be disseminated to relevant scientific and policy stakeholders who can build on their outcomes.
GoNEXUS will build a new model toolbox that combines existing numerical models of the different sectors of the WEFE nexus from the global to the basin/local scales. The toolbox will include an assessment on the historical and future evolution of the WEFE nexus, through evidence on the nexus management performance. Its thematic models will consider the interdependency of WEFE sectors (e.g. water-environment or climate-energy) under a changing climate. GoNEXUS’ toolbox will facilitate the linkages within the nexus for future researchers and will assess the impact of GoNEXUS solutions to meet the challenges of climate change.
Based on inputs from the case studies and NEXUS dialogues, GoNEXUS will develop a solutions evaluation framework to aid in the transition to integrated management and governance. These solutions will be evaluated using the model toolbox to assess trade-offs between water food and energy security.
Solutions will include:
- policy changes
- new institutional arrangements
- markets and trading
- risk-hedging actions across nexus components
- better-integrated information systems
- improved communication among WEFE nexus stakeholders
- development and improvement of infrastructure.