WEF nexus cases in Jordan, UAE and the Netherlands
Publication date: 09-05-2022
Elaboration of Water -Energy-Food nexus cases using system dynamics and presenting the results in an illustrative and an user-friendly dashboard for a wide range of stakeholders which highlights the WEF interconnections and effects of several WEF scenarios for each of the cases.
Stage of the project
Why was this project started?
the project was initiated by the Dutch Mistry of Foreign Affairs in order to :
To develop coherent policies across sectors, it is important that key actors understand well the current and potential future vulnerabilities and risks related to security of water, of food and of energy . Based on a shared insight in potential trade-offs and synergies between sectors, existing policies can be better aligned and new measures to adjust or complement these strategies can be identified or developed. An understanding of these risks at global level is important, since this gives an indication of whether global demands for water, food, and energy can be met and which areas (countries and/or regions) are most liable to experience insecurities. An understanding at local level (regional, national or sub-national) is important.
The aim of the project is to conduct a strategic analysis of water, energy, and food policies through a participatory systems analysis in relevant case studies that will be carried out by local project teams in each of the three regions involved in collaboration with representatives of the water, energy and food sectors. We propose three case studies: West- Netherlands, Jordan and the Gulf region. In each case a study of the Water-Energy-Food nexus will be explored in order to come up with coherent policy options for addressing future challenges that are identified by the local stakeholders. The case studies will be supported by quantitative data obtained from the modelling instruments available at WUR, Deltares and TNO Energietransitie. For the exploratory workshops it is foreseen that use will be made of modelling and analysis tools (such as STELLA, PowerBI and/or QuickScan1) which allow interactive exploration of the impact of policies affecting the WEF Nexus (e.g. concerted land use changes, energy (mix) strategies, water withdrawal, treatment & transport strategies) in a participatory setting depending on the case study specific objectives.
The results of the project so far
Water, Food and Energy are unavoidably connected: also known as the Water, Food and Energy Nexus. A Dutch consortium consisting of Wageningen University and Research, Deltares and TNO EnergyTransition have quantitatively assessed nexus case studies in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and The Netherlands through close cooperation with country teams.
The objective of this project was to support the multi-sectoral dialogue by assessing relevant problems in study cases of the three countries under the water-energy-food nexus perspective and present the results in a dashboard. The Dutch consortium organized a two-day training on nexus thinking, system dynamics modeling and dashboard development. Several workshops at country level were organized to identify priority issues, pressures, measures, scenarios and associated indicators. This was the basis for the development of system dynamic models which are suitable to connect various sectors through relationships between indicators. The most relevant indicators for representing the nexus were selected for presentation on the dashboard.
The dashboard should be regarded as an example how quantitative nexus assessments provide useful information for decision makers as it allows to see trade-offs of sectoral policies and effectiveness of measures to address those. The measures and scenarios show realistic examples of policy options and measures, but do not necessarily reflect actual (policy) decisions. The dashboard was presented during the WEF Summit in Dubai where participants had the opportunity to see and discuss on nexus issues, trade-offs and effectiveness of measures. Next step would be to internalize nexus thinking and application of the system dynamics model and dashboard into the governance structure of the countries to improve sustainable decision making in the countries. Further, the methodology applied is relevant to many other countries where water, food and energy security are at stake.
What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?
This study conducted a WEF Nexus assessment for three case studies on a quantitative way to visualize trade-offs and synergies of sectoral policies on other sectors. The cases were at national level (UAE and Jordan) and at local scale (the Netherlands). Also effects of mitigating measures to prevent or reduce trade-offs are assessed and visualized. This approach differs from most nexus studies which are usually conducted on a more qualitative way.
A dashboard was proven to be a suitable tool for presenting the three nexus cases studies as it allows non-expert users to clearly see policy and measure impacts on the nexus. A dashboard is not a stand-alone tool but only presents data from underlaying models, in this case, system dynamics models which are able to connect different sectors which each other through defining relationship between representative water, energy and food indicators. Defining relevant indicators around main issues in either water, energy and food was done through consultation with country teams via multiple workshops, which provided necessary information on policy objectives and plans.
Development of system dynamic models and the translation of outputs to a dashboard requires significant investments in both time and personal resources. A two-day training as provided in the project was not sufficient to transfer knowledge on these fields. However, education on nexus thinking as the basis for more integral thinking between water, energy and food was a successful achievement of the project. Another challenge with quantifying nexus issues is the requirement of large datasets for the indicators. Firstly, system dynamic models include many indicators which all require data and knowledge about their internal relationship.
Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?
Nexus studies like this project should not be a stand-alone exercise. The main challenge is to place the nexus perspective into the governance structure of the country. This can for example be done through an inter-ministerial panel where water, energy and food concerns are discussed, together with the impacts of actions of one sector on the other sectors, where the system dynamics models and dashboard are owned as tools that facilitate the dialogue. The outcomes of the inter-ministerial meetings such as new pressures on the interconnected system, new policy options and measures or additional outcomes of interest and their indicators, can then be tested through updating the system dynamics model and the associated dashboard. Also, the availability of new or better data can be an opportunity to update the tools. In this process, it is important that one institution is responsible for the maintenance of the tools and for developing the proper required capacities.
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