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Sustainable Integrated Management FOR the NEXUS of water-land-food-energy-climate for a resource-efficient Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SIM4NEXUS (Sustainable Integrated Management FOR the NEXUS of water-land-food-energy-climate for a resource-efficient Europe)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-06-30

Land, food, energy, water and climate are interconnected, comprising a coherent system (the ‘Nexus’), dominated by complexity and feedback. Understanding the Nexus is critical to secure the efficient and sustainable use of resources. SIM4NEXUS improved the understanding of such interlinkages in real world cases. In doing so, the project supported the goals of the European Union for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including reaching a resource efficient and low-carbon economy. Adopting the nexus concept in decision-making is based on coherent policies, management of resource conflicts and creating synergies in natural resource use. SIM4NEXUS has provided innovative methodologies to address these barriers, by building on well-known and scientifically established existing “thematic” models, simulating different components/“themes” of the Nexus. A web-based Serious Game is developed as an enhanced interactive visualisation tool, providing an immersive experience to decision- and policy-makers. The Serious Game will assist the users (as players) in better understanding and visualising policies at various geo-/spatial scales and from a holistic point of view, towards a better scientific understanding of the Nexus. The full version is publicly accessible using the following URL (Google Chrome): https://seriousgame.sim4nexus.eu.
SIM4NEXUS increased the understanding of how water management, food, energy, biodiversity and land use policies are linked together and to climate and sustainability goals. The project adopted a transparent and detailed analysis of a System Dynamic Model behind the Nexus to be used as an exploration tool. SIM4NEXUS also experimented with different combinations of policy cards and compared their effects in different contexts. This offers the Serious Game the ability to train policy makers and make them find cross-sectorial solutions to the Nexus problems. The following main results are achieved:
Metrics were developed and tested to assess the strength of resource interlinkages, with direct (e.g. water -> energy) and indirect interlinkages (e.g. water -> food -> energy) were explored. A heuristic algorithm has been developed and tested in the case studies, to quantify the interlinkage intensity. This is tested on a number of case studies.

Four Case Studies (Greece, Azerbaijan, Latvia and the Netherlands) are deployed and ready to be played through the Serious Game (https://bit.ly/39kendE). In addition, the Global Case Study has developed a demonstration tool which can be accessed through the SIM4NEXUS Serious Game platform (https://bit.ly/3n3uO1R). The game corresponding to the UK case study is under maintenance, being refined and improved. The current link to play this game is: https://bit.ly/33eyQNv. The Serious Games are available for secondary and university education, for supporting decision making, and for raising awareness among civil society. A practical guidance is delivered on the application of a serious game in participatory processes under real life conditions. It gives proof of evidence the Serious Games are rich in information.

System Dynamics Models (SDMs) are available for 11 case studies, including south-west UK, Andalusia, Sardinia, Latvia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Greece, Azerbaijan, transboundary France-Germany, transboundary Germany-Czech Republic-Slovakia and Europe. No SDM is available for the global case, because detailed (multi-region) assessments are available from the thematic models.

Each case study organised between 2 to 5 stakeholders workshops, as well as stakeholders engagement activities such as bilateral meetings, participation to conferences, Serious Game demonstrations, online surveys, etc. Each workshop gathered around 15-30 people, while the surveys managed to collect responses from 60-100 participants. Overall, each case study involved from 30 to 60 organisations in the project’s activities.

SIM4NEXUS showcased the added value in adopting the nexus concept in policy. First, options for synergy between water, land, food, energy and climate are used, while unforeseen and unwanted trade-offs are avoided. Second, transparency in the policy process is established and more innovative solutions developed because of the interdisciplinary co-operation and transdisciplinary method of working. So far, a nexus approach remains used to a limited extent only. However, the viewpoints and framing of policies is changing from a sectoral approach to thematic and more integrated systems approaches. Although the word ‘nexus’ is not explicit in recent European policies, examples are the European Green Deal, the From-Farm-to-Fork Strategy and Horizon Europe.
The exploitation strategy will focus on the Serious Game and other tools (e.g. system dynamics modelling) as well as exploitable knowledge to offer training at different levels – students, university staff, policy makers, business, civil society organisations. A Steering Group is established to lead implementation of the exploitation strategy and continue for 2 years. The Steering Group includes a representation from Wageningen Research, University of Thessaly and KWR Water.
The policy findings from the project were presented during national events and EU events (e.g. workshop on 16 May 2019 during the EU Green week; webinar on 23 June 2020 ‘The nexus and policies for a resource-efficient and low-carbon Europe’).

The policy findings have been input into consultations on EU policies. Policy briefs are presented, including (i) policy coherence on EU policy (ii policy coherence of the Common Agricultural Policy (iii implementation of EU water policies (iv policy coherence recommendations to the European Green Deal (https://bit.ly/398GxrY) and (v) landscape restoration to mitigate and adapt to climate change (https://bit.ly/3nHNBjp). The policy brief on the Green Deal is also shared in the EC, including DG RTD, AGRI, CLIMA, ENER, ENV and SANTE.

SIM4NEXUS contributes to workshops of the ICT4WATER Cluster, held annually, to present the project as an innovative tool to support initiatives of the European Commission on Digital Europe and Horizon Europe.

South West Water, providing drinking water and waste water services in the South West of England, improved their understanding of the inter-relationships and interdependencies of water, energy and land management. The collaboration in SIM4NEXUS enabled them to develop efficient options and integrated systems around resilience.

SIM4NEXUS is co-leading the Nexus Project Cluster, a group of independent research initiatives who team up for increased and more impacting communication and dissemination of the Nexus. In total 25 projects have joined and the cluster organized two science-policy workshops in Brussels and a special session ‘Towards a Nexus Knowledge Agenda’ during DNC2020 (June 2020).
SIM4NEXUS has communicated with policy decision-makers, practitioners and communities of practice. The project has been active on social media, primarily through the @sim4nexus twitter account. There are 570 tweets, 2,700 retweets, 3,950 likes and 1,730 link clicks. There are 1,280 followers.
SIM4NEXUS has contributed to international scientific assessments, including those of the IPCC, with multidisciplinary tools. SIM4NEXUS organised side-events during COP23 (November 2017) and COP24 (December 2018).
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