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SIM4Nexus and DAFNE // Key Results from the Knowledge Exchange Workshop of Nexus Projects

By Floor Brouwer, Phoebe Koundouri, Tamara Avellán, Jasminko Novak, Rachel Ahrens, Chrysi Laspidou and Guido J. Schmidt. A Nexus workshop with more than 50 participants was held on 16 March 2018 in Athens by SIM4NEXUS and DAFNE, in collaboration with the Greece United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN), to share knowledge among Nexus research groups, compare work among different Nexus-related projects, and seek ways for future collaboration.

In addition, the participants wished to establish a community of Nexus practitioners. Presentations were provided by Prof. Phoebe Koundouri (Athens University of Economics and Business and ICRE8), Maïté Fournier (ACTeon), Stefania Munaretto (PBL), Chengzi Chew and Jakob Luchner (DHI), Nassia Kassela (GWP-Med), Jasminko Novak (EIPCM) and Mehdi Khoury (University of Exeter).

Several Greek experts from institutions such as NTUA, the Technical University of Crete, the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), the Hellenic National Meteorological Service, the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-MED), NCSR Demokritos, Athena Research & Innovation Center and the company E3-Modelling have additionally participated.

The following main aspects were addressed in the workshop:

  1. The Nexus terminology remains diverse. On one hand, the term “Nexus” is not a known term in many languages, and on the other side – even the three hosting institutions of this workshop – focus on different interactions. SIM4NEXUS addresses water-energy-land-food and climate interactions, DAFNE works on water-energy-food challenges, and UNU-FLORES targets water, waste and soil.
  2. The Nexus is inherently relevant to the welfare of people especially since it takes into account the often not explicitly considered benefits of ecosystem services on which people inherently depend for their well-being (water, energy and food security, clean air, biodiversity etc.). SIM4NEXUS and DAFNE include continued stakeholder engagement and communication but these remain a major challenge; in particular when addressing transboundary areas, where the Nexus issues are often particularly relevant and different. Community involvement might be better managed by establishing gatekeeper or nodal contact roles for individuals; some grassroot organisations do already recognise the need to address the Nexus as they face inconsistencies in their daily lives and practice (e.g. small farmers associations in the Zambezi basin).
  3. The Nexus is relevant for developing better and more integrated policies (e.g. resource efficiency, climate adaptation, 2030 Agenda). Europe in general shows a high content-wise policy coherence of different policy sector domains, in particular within the sectors; however, there are some policy areas which have significant negative interactions with other Nexus sectors. Negotiation efforts on Nexus trade-offs or synergies should focus on biofuel production, water supply and conservation, farm competitiveness, carbon capture and storage, food security and hydropower. A further assessment of the policy implementation at National and Regional level is still ongoing, and might indicate other needs for action.
  4. Sharing good data by different stakeholders for informed scenario-development and decision-making remains a challenge, in particular for transboundary areas. Nexus projects shall show which are the high-level benefits stakeholders might obtain when sharing data, e.g. overcoming crisis situations as floods, droughts or pollutions. Agreed procedures for the communication and visualization of (modelling) results can help to overcome the resistance to share data, and strengthen joint learning processes, create trust and promote transparency. Intuitive nexus visualization tools that make results of the modelling and simulation easily understandable for non-technical users and directly useful for their existing work practice can facilitate stakeholder cooperation and commitment.
  5. Several projects have opted for using Serious Games are tools for better learning and decision-making on the Nexus. Serious Games simplify reality, and can deepen the understanding of players on complexity, uncertainty, dilemmas and the different roles within the Nexus areas, and they can strengthen the player’s negotiation and collaboration skills. Usually the games offer different options to choose, and therefore playing can result in different outcomes, which makes the players aware about the importance of taking the right/best choices, and serves as a frame to discuss the needs of the city, region or area covered. An important challenge is to identify the primary and potential players for such games, and thereby focus well without excluding. When involving stakeholders, projects shall consider the appropriate way of “inviting to playing” and still to be perceived as serious.


SIM4NEXUS is a Horizon 2020 project which aims to address knowledge and technology gaps and thereby facilitate the design of policies within the Nexus, addressing water-energy-land-food and climate interactions. The project will deliver a Serious Game, a cloud-based, integrated tool for testing and evaluating policy decisions, and develops 12 national and regional case studies in Europe, Azerbaijan, as well as at the European and Global levels. More information is available at www.sim4nexus.eu.

DAFNE is a Horizon 2020 project that aims to develop a better understanding of the water-energy-food nexus in complex and trans-boundary water resources. It develops a decision-analytic framework, multi-perspective visualisation tools and a geo-information portal for integrated and participatory modelling and analysis of the nexus issues in two trans-boundary case studies: the Zambezi basin and the Omo-Turkana basins. DAFNE addresses the ongoing transformations in these regions through an integrated and participatory approach that can trigger change by facilitating shared learning of the risks and opportunities associated with the nexus-related challenges. The DAFNE negotiation simulation lab the nexus analysis tools are developed, applied and evaluated together with the stakeholders through a process of collaborative social learning. More information is available at dafne-project.eu.

United Nations University Institute for the Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) aims to develop sustainable solutions for pressing global problems of human survival and development. The Institute engages in research, capacity development, and advanced teaching and training. UNU-FLORES develops strategies to resolve pressing issues surrounding the sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources such as water, soil, and waste through advancing a Nexus Approach. UNU-FLORES was established in Dresden, Germany, in December 2012. More information is available at flores.unu.edu

The projects SIM4NEXUS and DAFNE have received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 689150 SIM4NEXUS and no. 690268 DAFNE.

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