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DAFNE: Use of a Decision-Analytic Framework to explore the water-energy-food NExus in complex and trans-boundary water resources systems of fast growing developing countries.

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DAFNE (DAFNE: Use of a Decision-Analytic Framework to explore the water-energy-food NExus in complex and trans-boundary water resources systems of fast growing developing countries.)

Berichtszeitraum: 2019-09-01 bis 2020-10-31

The H2020 project DAFNE aimed to investigate how water, energy, food and the environment (WEF nexus) can be managed in complex and transboundary river basins by developing a novel participatory based and multidisciplinary approach to explore, together with stakeholders, options for present and future sustainable and integrated management of water resources. The approach accounts explicitly for technical, socio-economic, and ecologic dimensions, involves public and private actors and is socially inclusive, enhances resource efficiency and preserves ecosystem services in regions where large infrastructures exist, are being built or are planned, and intensive agriculture is expanding.
The novel DAFNE approach to the nexus focuses on better understanding of the interdependence of water, energy, food security and the natural resources that underpin that security. It identifies mutually beneficial options and provides an informed and transparent quantitative framework for determining trade-offs and synergies that meet demand for resources without compromising sustainability.
DAFNE’s central goal was to develop a Decision-Analytic Framework (DAF) that can support the quantitative assessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of WEF nexus management in complex physical and political contexts, where natural, economic and social processes are strongly linked and multiple stakeholders and decision-makers are present.
The DAFNE approach was demonstrated by applying it to two African transboundary basins, the Zambezi and the Omo-Turkana. The DAFNE approach proved to allow a better understanding of the nexus, thus enabling the exploration of alternative planning and management options based on stakeholder’s cooperation, which foster profitable but equitable resource uses without exceeding environmental limits or creating potential for conflicts.
The main novel and key elements of the DAFNE approach are:
• a comprehensive two-component modelling of the WEF nexus, which enables a spatially and temporally distributed analysis of the impact of development pathways;
• enabling water management and planning solutions based on a robust DAF, which allows the identification of vulnerabilities within and across sectors, so to inform policy making of potential risks;
• methods and tools that facilitate and promote stakeholder long-term engagement, participation and collaboration;
• the generation of more informed decision making through the application of innovative technology-based visualisation and interaction modes;
• improved methods for practical interactions between science and policy, which lead to more effective operational nexus management, and bridge the gap between prescriptive nexus management, adaptive policies and their operational dimension;
• a transparent transfer of knowledge and results to stakeholders and decision-makers;
• broad suitability, transferability and adaptability to any river basin where competing uses among the WEF sectors and/or transboundary water bodies exist.
In the final reporting period only three Work Packages (WP) were active. In particular, WP5 completed the robust analysis for the selected efficient pathways, WP6 completed the activities related to the interaction with stakeholders and to the NSL, and WP7 completed the tasks related to dissemination and outreach activities.
The test of DAFNE’s novel approach on two exemplary case studies proved to facilitate the identification of river basin planning and management solutions, which meet evolving demands and expectations of a wide range of stakeholders. The multitude of investigated alternatives provide scope for negotiated agreements among sectors and stakeholders and facilitate the identification of widely accepted solutions. The approach allows gaining insights, which enable the assessment of different aspects of sustainable governance of the WEF nexus from a new perspective. The key findings emerging from the DAFNE approach show that:
• it supports the identification of robust development pathways addressing trade-offs between water uses today and plausible but uncertain futures, thus supporting sustainable development:
• the two-component modelling framework is key to negotiation as it allows first the screening of pathways and then the detailed understanding of their impacts, thus generating stakeholders’ awareness and solution ownership;
• the DAF, based on advanced numerical and visualisation tools, best supports planning and management activities through an objective, quantitative assessment of trade-offs among many alternative development pathways, thus reducing potential sources of conflicts across the WEF nexus;
• the high-fidelity space-time WEF nexus modelling of development pathways allows unprecedented explorations of their impacts in negotiations around the development pathway representing the best compromise under given technical, climatological, and socio-economic boundary conditions;
• advanced and interactive knowledge visualization tools can effectively support dialogue and sustainable policy making, as they help solving challenges in participatory multi-stakeholder negotiation processes and facilitate convergence towards best compromise pathways;
• engaging users in the design of tools ensures proper understanding of their needs and makes tools integrated, complementary and capable of accounting for differences in stakeholders’ expertise and expectations;
• evaluations showed the limited stakeholders’ experience with advanced tools and applications, thus pointing at urgent need of capacity building;
• suitable institutional frameworks are vital for sustainable transboundary governance of water resources.
DAFNE joins the current state-of-the-art from diverse disciplines and combine it in a multidimensional and multidisciplinary approach to address the challenges associated with the WEF nexus in complex, transboundary river basins. DAFNE (a) explicitly integrates in the decision-analytic-framework multiple models, which provide detailed space-time simulations of the WEF nexus, including feedbacks; (b) quantifies the impacts of future hydroclimatic, socio-economic, and institutional scenarios on the WEF components and on the interests of stakeholders; (c) identifies robust pathways - temporal sequences of development actions - via direct negotiation among stakeholders and decision makers, in order to promote socially inclusive and environmentally and economically sustainable growth. Negotiations are supported by tools that stakeholders use to debate on results during the face-to-face session of Negotiation Simulation Laboratory (NSL) sessions. The NSL proved to be a unique experience of participatory research and an opportunity to collect the perspectives of the stakeholders on many dimensions of the DAFNE approach, from the assessment indicators to the dedicated visualisation tools. This innovative approach to interaction was particularly appreciated and assessed as highly useful in comparison with previous stakeholders’ experiences in projects that also addressed the WEF nexus. The DAFNE approach with its framework of modelling tools was proved to enable the stakeholders a detailed analysis of options about development pathways, which explicitly include their views as resulting from the NSL, and, thus, to be a novel approach to identify sustainable options of WEF nexus management.
Example of ZRB Pareto approximate trade-offs of efficient pathways
DAFNE Geo-portal dashboard for the Omo-Turkana river basin with indicator performances
Example of Stakeholders using the Multi Perspective Visualisation Tool during a ZRB NSL session
The DAFNE logo