This year´s Dresden Nexus Conference with the title “Circular Economy in a Sustainable Society” was held virtually from the 3rd to the 5th of June 2020 with more than 1000 participants from 100 countries. It was organized by UNU-FLORES (a United Nations University), the TU Dresden and the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER). The conference promoted lively discussions on the opportunities the Nexus offers for the transition towards a sustainable, circular economy with a focus on the sustainable management of water, soil and waste resources. It was linking stakeholders from all over to the world, different disciplines and sectors to exchange on ideas and experiences on the WEF Nexus approach.
The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme at the DNC2020
The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme contributed to the conference on the third day in a session on the science-policy interface for managing a natural resource Nexus. In one of the two sub-sessions on governance and policy aspects, Maria Ana Rodriguez, head of the Global Nexus Secretariat, together with Mr. Luca Ferrini, the Regional Coordinator for the Niger Basin, gave an insight into the WEF Nexus governance issues in the frame of security and peacekeeping in the Niger Basin with an interview-style presentation with the title “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus – a peace enabler?”.
The discussion evolved around the question whether the WEF Nexus approach can be a tool for enabling and stabilizing in the region, beyond ensuring water, energy and food security.
The Niger Basin area is one of the poorest regions in the world, affected by resource insecurities, but also by violent conflicts, religious extremism and political instability. This makes transboundary cooperation and the implementation of the Nexus approach even more complex Luca Ferrini stated that the biggest challenges in the region are the widespread food insecurity and the lack of access to water. At the same time, conflicts put even more pressure on securing these needs which could be reduced by enabling peace.
"Need is an opportunity - one drop of water has to be used efficiently for several objectives. Need is also a challenge – asking everyone involved how to prioritize the use of scarce resources."
– Luca Ferrini
A special emphasis was given to the role of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) and its importance in supporting dialogues between different, and sometimes conflicted, stakeholders in the region and in enabling WEF Nexus conform policy-making. In many of the regions´ countries, resource poverty seems to be a root factor for the development of all kinds of conflicts, as well as decentralized institutional structures where responsibilities become blurred. Thus, the mandate to act of the NBA puts the authority in a strong position, both as a mediator between nations and stakeholders and as a dialogue facilitator:
“The Niger Basin Authority plays the role of a honest broker that facilitates the dialogue between nations but also between the water, energy and food sectors"
– Luca Ferrini
Luca Ferrini illustrated the potential of the WEF Nexus approach as a peace enabler with the example of the FOMI dam, planned to be located in Guinea on the Niandan river, 39 km from its confluence with the Niger river. One of the major goals of the Fomi dam project is to provide local households, markets and the mining industry with energy and with water for irrigation to secure food supplies. Some of the implications of the dam construction include the dam’s impact on agricultural and economic activities in the downstream countries as well as the impact on key ecosystems such as the Niger Inner Delta wetland in Mali on which at least two million people’s livelihoods depend. It thus offers a case where the Nexus approach was used in negotiations and multilateral planning processes, with an impact on decision-making, to avoid conflict of interest between different countries on transboundary water management and ecosystem protection.
The session included many other interesting contributions, each focusing on WEF Nexus governance related aspects. Carolin Märker delivered insight into the WEF Nexus application in policy integration in Germany and Roger Strand from the University of Bergen elaborated further on the idea behind the WEF Nexus governance in a circular economy. Overall, the conflict between finite, absolute resources and a system that is dependent on growth and is susceptible to a variety of threats, was critically discussed. Important new outcomes from academia and practitioners were presented on how to put the WEF Nexus approach can be of value-addedfor policy-makers.
Overall the session was a great success and showed once more that the collaboration between science and practice is vital to tackle challenges and opportunities within the WEF Nexus approach.
More information on the conference and its outcomes
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For more information on the topic please contact Ms. Maria Ana Rodriguez, head of the Global Nexus Secretariat under firstname.lastname@example.org