by Dr Dimitris Kofinas, Civil Engineer, water resources management, University of Thessaly

Agriculture has traditionally constituted one of the major consumers of natural resources. Food production is inextricably dependent on water for irrigation and livestock purposes. At the same time, water transfer, treatment, and pumping demand energy, while energy production demands cooling water. In addition, the food industry is another major water and energy consumer. These interrelations between the Water, Energy, and Food systems are what the research community is increasingly referring to as the WEF nexus [1]. These and many more interconnections between systems create a complex series of synergies and trade-offs that need to be explicitly identified, analyzed, and quantified to support decision-making in agricultural planning and resources management. Insights from a WEF Nexus analysis reveal what kind of interventions, technologies, innovations, and policies may offer multiple benefits to our food production systems.

Currently, the WEF Nexus has expanded to include other components, such as biodiversity, ecosystem services, climate change, land uses, nutrients, and soil suggesting a paradigm shift towards a more holistic planning approach, especially considering the added evidence on the interdependencies and mostly synergetic function of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Different research groups around the world have introduced various nexus approaches of multiple dimensions—from the basic WEF triplet to more extended ones, such as the WEFCL (Water-Energy-Food-Climate, Land)- incorporating biophysical simulations, policy analyses, economic assessment, and stakeholder engagement working threads to operationalize the Nexus concept [2,3]. 

Sim4Nexus has been one of the EU-funded emblematic projects on the Nexus conceptualization and operationalization. It has focused on the WEFCL quintuple Nexus and implemented its analysis on actual Case Studies of multiple scales. It produced advanced modeling tools and Serious Games to popularize results and more efficiently engage stakeholders. NEXOGENESIS is a new project on the Nexus to also incorporate implications of the WEFCL nexus on the additional dimensions of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. NEXUSNET is a Cost Action network that brings together all Nexus scientists to exchange experience and standardize approaches. University of Thessaly, MAGO partner, is also a partner and/or coordinator of the aforementioned projects and initiatives. Its ambition is to channel insights, tools, and networks, regarding agricultural planning, from the Nexus field to MAGO and reverse. This will bring opportunities and create synergies of injecting MAGO’s innovative outputs and their beneficial functions into the Nexus community on one hand and offering a more high-level, holistic overview of the MAGO processes and workflow on the other hand.