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Spotlight on Imen Arfa: GoNEXUS’ young researcher

Every few months GoNEXUS puts the spotlight on our young researchers. These are researchers who have recently graduated with their PhD or who are currently studying and who contribute actively to the research of the GoNEXUS project.

This month we put a spotlight on Imen Arfa, a research assistant originally from Tunisia but now based in Madrid, Spain. She is currently doing her PhD and working as a researcher at the Polytechnical University of Madrid (UPM) and CEIGRAM. She has a degree in agro-economist engineering from the National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia (INAT) as well as an International Master of Science in Agri-Food Marketing from the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza/Spain (IAMZ/CIHEAM). For the GoNEXUS project, she works on the identification of the main nexus challenges and solutions for the EU case study. Discover her story below.

What do you do for GoNEXUS? Is it the first project you’ve worked on? 

For GoNEXUS, I’m working mainly on the identification of the main nexus challenges and solutions for the EU case study. Furthermore, I’m working on co-creating and providing policy WEFE narratives aligned with climate, socioeconomic and land use scenarios considering WEFE projections and envisaged policies and strategies at global and continental level. I will work as a modeler which means that I will participate to run scenarios with CAPRI-Water. Before GoNEXUS, I worked on another nexus project  SIM4NEXUS (H2020 project).

What is the most interesting thing you learned so far working on GoNEXUS? 

I’m learning how the narrative approach addresses the Nexus complexities at multiple levels. This integrated research approach is new to me and has the potential to help solve key issues in the policy process. I have also learned that it is important to identify the most effective WEFE policy solutions as well as to coordinate both from a sectoral perspective and a spatial perspective. Strong and robust policies and governance mechanisms that are under changing conditions as well as economically and ecologically sustainable are crucial to minimize cross-sectoral trade-offs and promote synergistic actions. It is important to integrate and combine both quantitative and qualitative approaches to assess Nexus complexities.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are you working on? 

In five years, I see myself continuing to work on research likely on WEFE policy coherence analysis. I would also see myself being involved more with the CAPRI model to improve the model results.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? 

Since I was little, I always liked science and I always wanted to innovate (even with my toys!) Later, I decided to become an engineer and get more involved in research, following in my brother’s footsteps. Now I’m happy to achieve my objectives as an engineer and young researcher in this field.

Who is your science idol? Someone you wish you could have a conversation with (from the past or contemporary). 

I’m an agro-economist engineer, I’m influenced by Karl Heinrich Marx. His work in economics laid the basis for some current theories about labor and its relation to capital. Marx’s political and philosophical thought had an enormous influence on subsequent intellectual, economic, and political history. 

Which GoNEXUS research outcome/WP/expert (other than your own) are you most excited to learn about or collaborate with?  

I look forward to collaborating with the global hydraulic modelers to understand what data can be provided and how can be used to improve CAPRI-water in non-European regions.

Have you read any interesting books/articles recently that really made you think?  

I’m currently working on WEFE policy narratives. For this reason, I read the paper “Co‑creating narratives for WEF nexus governance: a Quantitative Story‑Telling case study in the Canary Islands” by Violeta Cabello and colleagues. This paper helped me to understand and to expand my knowledge on how narratives can be developed and gave me ideas to create a methodology framework based on many references related to this topic

If GoNEXUS held a party, which song would you request from the DJ? 

I would request “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf.