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2021 Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus Science Advances Conference

September 27, 2021 - September 29, 2021

Delivery type: Online from Nicosia (Cyprus)


Living within the budget of Nature requires reviewing the supply chains that nourish Mediterranean societies and economies. Yet, such a transformation of the rules of the game is still far from commonly accepted, especially when the proposed changes impinge on people’s lifestyle and challenge the current economic models. Increasing demand of water, energy and food due to population growth and urbanization aggravated by unprecedented extreme weather and climate conditions, are likely to undermine future livelihoods in the region, ultimately leading to increased insecurity, migration and possible local conflicts. The Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem (WEFE) Nexus is the system at the intersection of economic, health and ecological interests where the confrontation of diverse practices of market, governance, culture and knowledge take place. It follows that achieving sustainability, reducing inequality, promoting cooperation and restraining conflicts and migration flows in the Mediterranean region require the concurrent implementation of interconnected targets, many of which are embodied in the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Answering the broad range of questions encompassed by the WEFE Nexus concept is a challenging process at regional and national level. Evidence of benefits for business and communities of a transformative change on how WEFE resources are managed has so far failed to elicit significant changes in behaviour. While people tend to agree on distant targets, acceptance of short-term actions is more difficult. In order to make a more convincing case for change, we need to fill the gap in the debate between experts and non-experts.

A science-driven approach to solving this problem should move beyond biophysical considerations and help design operational targets that reflect the predominant societal values and interests in the Mediterranean region. This requires broadening the toolkit with which experts approach the WEFE Nexus to provide clear demonstrations of the proposed solutions to policy designers. Learning from best practices worldwide can help convince social actors and decision-makers to adapt their thinking and behaviour. It is not the role of scientists to shape policies, since operational targets must be participatory, socio-political choices. But by providing evidence-based assessments on the benefits and trade-offs between the different elements of the Nexus, science can help inform the debate and provide a menu of possible solutions that societies in the Mediterranean can adapt to their own needs. Multi-disciplinary partnerships are therefore essential to tackle such cross-sectoral challenges.

Delivering Conference content:

There are no purely sectoral solutions to the sustainable management of Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem resources in the Mediterranean region. Moreover, as the COVID 19 pandemic and the migration flows in some parts of the region are dramatically showing, a transformation of our current thinking and approaches is no longer an option, but a necessity. The key concept of the 2021 WEFE Nexus Science Advances Conference is “addressing interdependencies”. The Conference will analyse the role of science as driver of innovation and its interfacing with the policy and decision-making processes. It will recommend workable measures on how to integrate novel paths in the research and planning of WEFE supply chains through a collaborative response across the Mediterranean region. Participants in the Conference will be scientists and practitioners, as well as social actors and decision makers from diverse WEFE sectors from the entire Mediterranean area, all brought together with the following common objectives:

  • Survey new approaches and modes of practice that can be applied to inform decisions, choose priorities and incentivize the cross-sectoral management of water, energy, food and ecosystem resources.
  • Promote the collection and documentation of WEFE Nexus best practices in the Mediterranean region and incorporate lessons learned in hands-on guidance for the development of sustainable operational targets, in line with the SDGs.
  • Elaborate on the role of a WEFE Nexus Community of Practice to stimulate cross organization collaboration and knowledge-sharing around demonstration projects in the Mediterranean region.

The Conference focuses on the Mediterranean dimension, but it is of broad interest to participants from outside the region sharing the same interests and wishing to learn from the Mediterranean
experience. It is organized by the Joint Research Centre and the Directorate General Research and Innovation of the European Commission, the UfM-Union for the Mediterranean, the PRIMAPartnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area, and the Cyprus Institute. The outcomes of the Conference will contribute to the objectives set out in the UfM Ministerial Declaration on Water, to the UfM Water Agenda, to the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda of PRIMA and the actions proposed by the European Commission in the roadmap of the EU Green Deal.


The Conference will be held entirely online with successive high-level panel sessions and group work smoothly spread over three days. It will be highly interactive with discussions at the science-to-policy interface triggered by keynote speakers tasked to review the state-of-the-art in specific areas of the Nexus (Nexus Talks). Participants and panelists will be asked to provide inspiring evidence of mutually beneficial solutions based on the co-production of practical and scientific knowledge. Breakout Groups and poster sessions will offer opportunities for networking.

At the Conference, the launch of the report “Gateway to the Future of the Mediterranean: Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems” will provide examples for substantive discussions on sustainability (Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem Nexus in the Mediterranean – Seeking examples of best practices | EU Science Hub (europa.eu)). Furthermore, the 2021 PRIMA WEFE Nexus Awards (instructions for application at https://prima-med.org/the-prima-wefe-nexus-contest-opensapply-by-15-june/) will be conferred during the Conference.


Participants are requested to fill in the online registration form by following the instructions on the Conference website or by clicking here. The deadline for registration is 30th June 2021.

By submitting posters, attendees are offered the opportunity to share their work and views on how science can address the challenge posed by the implementation of a WEFE Nexus approach.
The associated abstracts can be submitted as explained in the registration form.

The detail program agenda is available here.

WEFE Breakouts sessions and zoom link available here.



September 27, 2021
September 29, 2021
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