Connecting the Dots:
Nexus Themes &
Transformation Strategies

Water security and climate change automatically include a wide range of cross-cutting issues to be addressed in this thread. For example, water, energy, and food security are closely linked to each other. An analysis of how these sectors interact with each other is crucial to enhance informed-based decision-making. The focus of the topic is to foster sustainable transformation using the Nexus framework as well as addressing social challenges and strategies for this transformation.

  • Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus
  • Water Decision Analysis, Cost Benefit Analysis, Multiple-criteria Decision-making
  • Ecosystem Services for Nexus Solutions
  • Integrating Nexus Policies for Sustainability
  • Water in National Sustainable Development Strategies
  • Water Innovation, Societal Challenges and Transformation

Related sessions

Hosted by: Andreas Haarstrick (TU Braunschweig, SWINDON)

It is undebatable that one of the most important natural resources are represented by freshwater systems. The preservation of the natural function of ground and surface water is both a challenge and an obligation. However, the question often arises as to how far sustainable resource use and conservation can be achieved in the context of SDGs and the global need for growth. Unfortunately, the achievement of “real” sustainable development is still hampered by numerous compromises in favour of conservative economic growth over social well-being and environmental sustainability.  The debate on social well-being and ecological viability, including climate protection, forms the concept of the “inclusive development” within the SDGs´ framework. The current discussion supports the thesis that without a commitment to inclusive development, the SDGs run the risk of not directing the substantive transformation needed to achieve strong sustainable development at states and global level.

Continued economic growth, which is further bound to the “business-as-usual” paradigm, will fail to achieve sustainable development. As long as this paradigm does not undergo a paradigm shift, an inclusive development approach is necessary to balance or minimize the dominance of the conservative business-as-usual growth approach.

Over time, the global community has learned that ecological issues are not so much one-off, isolated incidents as they are intertwined with development and growth issues.  The insight that resource exploitation is limited has transferred our awareness and action, at least to some extent, to a new qualitative level where ecological and economic opportunities are evaluated in the same way, thus paving the way for the achievement of sustainability goals.

Hosted by: Lars Ribbe and Alexandra Nauditt (TH Köln, CNRD)

It is widely recognized that more “Nexus Thinking” is needed in resources management and that planning strategies should consider the needs of all sectors related to water, energy, food and the environment; and be based on a profound understanding of Nexus conflicts and trade-offs. However, Nexus systems can be extremely complex, depending on the spatial scale, seasonal variability, resources availability and demand as well as potential climatic, demographic and socioeconomic changes. Aside from understanding the economic trade-offs between the different resources uses, we need to be aware of the environmental implications of any intervention, and how it compromises other sectors. Typical examples are e.g. the impact of agricultural activities on water quantity and quality, reduced groundwater recharge due to increased technification and efficiency of irrigation, energy generation vs. water uses for domestic supply and agricultural activities, etc. ..). Therefore, only based on a WEF Security Nexus System assessment, we will be able to suggest adaptive solutions to improve sustainable resources planning.

In recent years, qualitative and quantitative tools of varying complexity have been developed and applied to assess such Nexus components and interconnections (Bassel et al., 2015; Basheer et al., 2018; Schull et al., 2020). Many of these tools address decision-making and governance at the national or regional level and are capable of depicting the regional physical and institutional context of WEF Nexus systems (Hermann et al., 2012; Sieber et al., 2015; Daher and Mohtar, 2015). Therefore, there is a strong demand to provide tools that can assess such Nexus tradeoffs at local scale systems as eg. the catchment scale, irrigation scheme or urban system. 

Based on such a Nexus system assessment, we can suggest and develop integrated, low-cost WEF Nexus conform solutions (hybrid and polyservice technologies), that can optimize resources supply and protect ecosystems. Common examples are agro-photovoltaics, photovoltaics combined with water treatment, waste(water) for fertilization and energy generation.

Therefore, this session aims at presenting and discussing concepts, methods and data that can support WEF Security assessment and governance approaches, as well as smart and integrated solutions that can improve the secure supply of clean resources.

Hosted by: Mahsa Motlagh (ICB)

Water is essential to realize all the SDGs, to meet the challenges of global changes, and for all aspects of human and environmental development. The wide range of water security challenges will require a similarly wide range of innovative solutions and tools, ranging from using the internet and mobile applications to remote sensing and big data, from desalination to cloud seeding, and from artificial intelligence to blockchain technologies. Technology brings a new chapter to data and decision-support systems to light and develop innovative forms of institutions, governance, and enabling infrastructure. However, technology alone cannot solve the water security challenges. Sustainable solutions require integrated and transdisciplinary approaches to create a roadmap as a shared vision to embrace the opportunities of the present and future digital solutions to reach the 17 SDGs by 2030 and beyond.

Today sustainability and digital technology have been connected along their path of development, and their innovative combination may provide such new capabilities in the water sector to understand the trend of disruptive changes from global to local. As a promising game-changer, the on-going development and integration of digital technologies are providing opportunities for water security while actuating the positive impact of a technology-enabled sustainable development won’t occur unguided in water management practices.

Experts in digitalization and sustainability from academia, private sector, politics, tech organizations, start-ups, national authorities are invited to join in our a session to present their research, experience, projects and case studies, to contribute to creating a shared vision considering the current landscape, gaps, risks and opportunities as well as actions that can accelerate the transformation towards sustainable digital water security.

Hosted by: Bernd Gutterer (BORDA) and  Thammarat Koottatep (AIT) 

The achievement of SDG6 is strongly interlinked with the localization of other SDGs and these connections can generate both synergies and trade-offs. While this occurs in all settings, it is especially relevant in cities, which are dense and growing hubs for innovation and economic activities. By 2030, 60% of the global population is projected to live in urban areas and while this global trend of urbanization opens various possibilities, it also presents significant challenge in the context of sustainability. Already today, many cities are experiencing multi-scaled water burdens simultaneously and struggle to ensure water security.

The objective of this session is to investigate the character of interlinkages between SDG6 and other SDGs in the urban context and to present case studies and innovative methods and tools that address these synergies and trade-offs. Central questions for this session are: How does the localization of SDG6 affect the localization of other SDGs in the urban context (and vice versa)? How can innovative tools and methods encourage synergies between SDGs in the urban context? What is the potential of decentralized approaches, participative planning and nature-based solutions to address SDG interlinkages in the urban context?

After the presentations, we invite participants and speakers to engage in an interactive simulation model to solve an urban development challenge that includes interlinkages between SDG6 and other SDGs.

Hosted by: Thammarat Koottatep (AIT), Frank Fladerer and Hendra Gupta (BORDA)

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as a single entity, would rank as the seventh-largest economy in the world. The region comprises some of the largest and the fastest-growing cities of the world. The booming cities of Southeast Asia account for more than 65 per cent of the region’s GDP today, and more than 90 million people are expected to move to urban areas by 2030. Creating cities with a high quality of life will demand some $7 trillion in investment in infrastructure, housing, and commercial space.

The whole developing process increases the demand for resources, consumptions and eventually locate pressures to resource security as well as disposal of waste. Nature’s capacity to regenerate resources that human needs is currently overwhelmed by the continuously increasing demand. Technology application and approaches to treat wastewater and solid waste are crucial to support nature’s regeneration process. Taking urban area as a starting point in dealing with water security and climate change offers enormous potential for its concentration of population. 

Local and national governments increase investment in sanitation infrastructure development, while development banks offer the opportunity to scale up investment and access to sanitation infrastructures supporting the governments’ initiation. Manufacturers of water and wastewater treatment technology play important roles in securing water and dealing with climate change as well as ensuring that the investments in the sanitation sector yield the expected impact. Standards for water and sanitation products are a necessity to push mutual market access as well as the realization of technical interoperability and compatibility of products, enhancing trade in goods and services. Application of standards ensures that only tested and quality technology products are offered in the market.

Asian Institute of Technology Thailand in collaboration with Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association organise this session to present the sanitation sector’s contribution to water security and climate change within an urban context. The session focuses on the contribution of standardization on decentralized wastewater treatment technology to achieve SDG 6 on ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ and 11 on ‘Sustainable Cities’. The session brings forward the idea of a common standard or a mutual recognition of testing prefabricated residential wastewater treatment products to the ASEAN community and highlights urban decision-makers’ specific and direct intervention to safeguard urban waters.