Climate change (CC) has far-reaching consequences for natural resources that will disproportionately affect poor and marginalized groups who depend on them for their livelihoods (World Bank, 2007). Climate-related crop failures, fishery collapses and livestock deaths already cause economic losses and undermine food security, with these effects becoming more severe as global warming continues. Nelson et al. (2009) estimate the annual costs of adapting to climate change in the agricultural sector to be over US$ 7 billion. In the Mediterranean basin, farmers have also to deal with desertification, saltwater intrusion and water scarcity due to climate change that imposes food security and social stability at risk. Also, hydroelectric production is exposed to water-related extreme events that make its supply erratic, while energy demand increases rapidly. When the increased demand for water meets a limited and inconsistent supply due to climate change, environmental sustainability and ecosystem resilience are also at stake imposing a great need for action and more comprehensive water policy initiatives.
Sustainable and resilient food systems in a world of growing population and changing diets are needed to face pressing challenges like climate impacts. The water-energy-food-ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus can enable the policymakers in the Euro-Mediterranean region to act on climate change effectively by proposing sustainable pathways that leverage synergy opportunities towards climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Developing potential synergies between the main actors of the Nexus can enhance efficiency and good governance of natural resources, identify co-benefits and trade-offs across WEFE sectors, and propose possible policy measures and technical actions to reduce inter-sectoral tensions. One of the essential components of the WEFE nexus is a participatory stakeholder process, which promotes innovative solutions and policy integration. These efforts can be enhanced by setting up a conference that links policy, research and industry stakeholders. The conference will promote innovative approaches within the Nexus methodology and will become the source of Nexus knowledge and innovations in the Euro-Mediterranean basin.
A report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) warns, “Food security will become an increasingly complex political and economic problem over the next few years” (WEF, 2008). It is therefore vital that initiatives for better climate adaptation and food security are closely aligned. A new research initiative is needed – one that integrates and applies the best and most promising approaches and technologies. As a result, the nexus has been recognized as the cornerstone of the sustainable management of resources in Mediterranean countries.
The involvement of farmers, policy-makers, researchers, the private sector and civil society in the research process is vital. Successful mitigation and adaptation will entail changes in individual behaviour, technology, institutions, agricultural systems and socio-economic systems. These changes cannot be achieved without improving interactions among the aforementioned stakeholders. Such interaction can take the form of a consultation round and/or conference that addresses the challenges and opportunities the sectors of agriculture and energy face in the presence of climate change. This conference will shed light on policy needs and identification of policy gaps which will encourage dialogue among the triple-helix model that represents research/industry/government. The nexus approach can generate integrated frameworks that can account for the interdependencies among the different sectors and actors in the WEFE Nexus that can serve as a road map for innovation and policy portfolios.
The conference will target the following topics under the adaptation to progressive climate change within WEFE Nexus:
1. Operationalizing the WEFE Nexus: Models, methods and data needs.
- Data techniques, tools and study designs in relation to the analysis of the WEFE Nexus;
- Dynamic models and GIS applications to analyze the WEFE Nexus
- Simulations and serious games as educational tools for complex Nexus interactions
- How to assess the circularity of the agricultural, energy and water sectors
- Nexus-model frameworks to build resilient food systems
2. WEFE Nexus Governance: National and Pan-National Policy Frameworks and Instruments, non-governmental organization, and social actors
- The WEFE Nexus in the Mediterranean Region: Governance and Multi-institutional Collaboration
- Water Directives within the WEFE Nexus in the Mediterranean
- Green Deal policies within the WEFE Nexus in the Mediterranean
- WEFE Nexus policy frameworks in the MENA region
- Innovations and policy portfolios to enhance co-benefits and manage trade-offs among WEFE actors in the Mediterranean.
- SDGs policies and WEFE Nexus initiatives in the Mediterranean
- Integration of existing policy instruments and infrastructures into a coherent Mediterranean WEFE nexus approach
3. Implementing WEFE Nexus Thinking in the Mediterranean: Innovations, Investments and Best Practices
- Uses of renewable energy for water management in the Mediterranean Region: Solar/wind-powered irrigation systems, Water-saving innovations in agriculture, Renewable energy for desalination and for waste-water treatment and reuse.
- The economics of the WEFE Nexus and their interaction and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity – exploring multifunctional land uses.
- Lessons learned about incentives and institutional arrangements of adaptation practices for effective and equitable allocation of water in the WEFE Nexus.
- Experience of WEFE Nexus practical pilots and implementations in the Mediterranean basin: Ecotourism, Offshore agricultural development, special niche products.
The conference target groups are
- Stakeholders from the Food, Water and Energy Industries, Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Start-ups, NGOs, young entrepreneurs, in addition to farmers as final beneficiaries.
- Academia with the involvement of university researchers who conduct research on the WEFE nexus.
- Governmental agencies and policy-making entities that are involved in the WEFE Nexus.