Workshop A2: Unsustainable Pathways and Leverage Points
Chaired by Antje Bruns
Presenting speakers :
In this presentation, a methodology is proposed that combines an integrated assessment of innovations in the W-E-F nexus with the analysis of a governance strategy towards the implementation of promising sets of sustainability innovations. First, causal loop diagrams are applied in a participatory modeling process to elicit and assess stakeholder knowledge about innovations. Second, case-specific factors are identified based upon participatory and literature research that support multi-level learning for the implementation of promising sustainability innovations.
A case study of the W-E-F nexus in Cyprus is provided to exemplify the application of the methodology. Several innovations have been included in the study, such as rainwater harvesting, decentralized renewable energy systems and organic agriculture. The results show that sustainability innovations in Cyprus are currently operating at a small scale. Their upscaling requires learning of individuals, groups, organizations and policy actors. A clear sustainability vision of the W-E-F nexus is found to be an important step towards a coordination of learning processes at multiple societal levels. Such a vision requires in-depth stakeholder engagement in order to assure ownership and commitment of stakeholders. Based upon 27 stakeholder interviews, some elements of a future sustainability vision are delineated.
Backed by an oil-economy, the government has tried to highly subsidize the agricultural activities to grow the agricultural sector as the axis of development, e.g., by supplying free water, cheap electricity power and etc. The outcome is clear when we face the highly negative balance of the water resources and the inefficient and low productive agricultural sector. This negative trend has been continuously occurring, while Iran has multiple complex (governmental) organizations and policies to pursue sustainability. The main excuse claimed by these organizations is the lack of knowledge and also inadvertency of the other actors involved in the water use chain. While the governance analysis definitely proves this claim, it also reveals that the mono-centric and highly governmental governance structure has led to the degradation of trust between farmers and the government, and even gradually led the farmers to consider the government as the origin of the water crisis. In this sense, farmers believe that this is not their responsibility to find an exit way and unanimously they are expecting for an exogenous solution.
Taking a WF Nexus approach and finding a good trade-off point, is challenged by the governance structure and it seems that the whole system is in the trap of short-termism. The governance structure has led the farmers to take a passive position for conservation and do not care about sustainability. Even those farmers who care, do not feel it possible to react effectively. Thus, the critical situation is unconsciously accepted and there is no demand for sustainability by the water users. On the other side, the government is not trying to give over its responsibilities and authority, and wants to reach a desirable point in the short term with a mandatory approach. With this excuse that there is not enough time to change the behavior of the users, participation and capacity building for the agricultural water users has a low priority in the government’s strategies. But in reality, mandatory approach does not work, while there is high possibility for corruption and rule-breaking; and as a result it will enlarge the gap between the government and farmers.
Escaping the trap of short-termism to reach a WF Nexus is not possible, unless with a governance reform. The government has to change its priorities and paradigms for solving the complex social-ecological problems of the water resource systems. Conservation has to become a claim by the farmers and for this the responsibilities and power have to be redistributed. The last but not the least, is to understand that the governance reform requires patience and a long-term planning, and seemingly short-term solutions not only do not open an exit way from the crisis, but also deepen the critical situation and jeopardize the resilience of the social-ecological water system.
While urbanization and climate change shape environmental and human risk in numerous ways, governmental and nongovernmental actors and actor-networks have emerged in many cities to pursue opportunities and options to enhance the security of FEW systems in innovative ways. Given these emerging innovations, research is needed to better understand the nature, dynamics and interactions between knowledge, actions and outcomes in the enhancement of FEW nexus security in different urban-regional settings.
We ask two questions: Do existing and emerging actions intended to enhance food, water and energy security have the capacity to ensure FEW nexus security in the face of changing climate and urban development conditions? Can we identify a common set of social, ecological and technological conditions across a diversity of urban-regions that support the emergence of innovations and can lead to structural transformations? These questions are addressed through a series of modules, which iteratively evaluate options to enhance capacities for sustainable FEW systems management to improve nexus security and urban-regional resilience.
In summary, to find and implement sustainable solutions for resource management in urban environments, a threefold approach is required:
– The complex interdependencies between water, energy and food in urban environments must be modelled to show trade‐offs, bottlenecks and hidden costs but also synergetic effects and effective solutions.
– Technological options should be evaluated including the model‐based results as well as cultural, socio‐economic and natural boundary conditions.
– To identify and implement sustainable innovative concepts and technologies, stakeholders should be involved in the activities in an early stage of development. Advantages of concepts must be made clear and easily understandable to the publicity and stakeholders.
In this way, general solutions to the above named challenges could be found and implemented efficiently. Such an approach shall be developed by establishing and intensifying cooperation in Germany and South‐America.
Target audience: We invite interested participants from all disciplines and at all career stages specially early stage PhD student and postdocs.
Date and time: Jun 15th, 13:30 – 15:15
Location: ZUK, Osnabrück, Room 2
- Antje Bruns