Building a Community of Practice for Water, Food, Energy and Ecosystems (WEFE) resources
At the end of September, scientists, practitioners and policy-makers from all around the Mediterranean agreed on the creation of a Community of Practice focused on building the capacity of Mediterranean stakeholders to operationalize adaptation, conservation and mitigation measures over Water, Food, Energy and Ecosystems (WEFE) resources.
With the spectre of Climate Change stretching the Mediterranean ecosystems and societies to a breaking point, this existential crisis can only be resolved by working together, across national boundaries, but also across boundaries of scientific specialisation and sectorial management. Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems are not separate challenges, they are part of the same life support system which humanity needs to survive.
The conference last week was unprecedented in scale and scope: it brought together Ministers from both shores of the Mediterranean, as well as 45 experts (scientists, innovators, practitioners, civil society representatives, policy makers) from countries all over the region, to discuss how to work together in an integrated approach (the Nexus) to the accelerating challenges we face. The delegates agreed to create a Mediterranean WEFE Nexus Community of Practice, which will:
- Promote the collection and documentation of WEFE Nexus best practices and innovative, science-based policy and technical solutions to manage WEFE resources better, while improving socio-economic conditions in the Mediterranean region.
- Survey new approaches and modes of practices to inform decisions, choose priorities and incentivise the cross-sectoral management of water, energy, food and ecosystem resources.
- Account for impacts, costs and benefits these responses may have across sectors, on the society and the environment, now and in the future, providing hands-on recommendations for the development of sustainable operational targets, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals
- Promote/support the deployment of regional demonstrators, which substantially contribute to developing and replicating WEFE concepts and solutions in the Mediterranean region.
- Provide an outlook and foresight scenarios on the impacts of a regional-wide application of possible solutions tested at WEFE Nexus demonstration cases.
- Disseminate the outcomes emanating from WEFE Nexus interventions.
Such a Community of Practice is urgently needed because climate change, demographic development and geopolitical tensions will continue to affect the Mediterranean region, and the impacts will continuously be more severe. The interdependence and competition between the water, energy, food production sectors and their impact and dependency on ecosystems and ecosystem services render the WEFE Nexus approach the only viable solution. All WEFE components are vulnerable in light of a swiftly changing climate and unsustainable exploitation. For example, the combined effects of extensive area desertification, freshwater scarcity and the rise of extreme weather conditions will affect food systems in the Mediterranean and globally. This imminent threat calls for an enhanced regional collaboration for the deployment of WEFE Nexus solutions able to face needs and challenges specific to the Mediterranean region.
The conference was co-organised by the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation and the Joint Research Centre), the Union for the Mediterranean, PRIMA and the Cyprus Institute. This organising team, which has worked together for the last two years towards the creation of the Community of Practice, is committed to realising the pledges made at the WEFE Nexus Conference and invite all relevant stakeholders to join them in this ambitious initiative.
For more information, please consult the website: https://wefe-nexus-medconf-2021.eu/