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PRIMA Grant Places CyI at the Heart of a Mediterranean Effort Towards a Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems Nexus

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PRIMA Grant Places CyI at the Heart of a Mediterranean Effort Towards a Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems Nexus

The Cyprus Institute has been awarded an important PRIMA Grant to coordinate the WEFE4MED project (Towards a Mediterranean WEFE Nexus Community of Practice), placing it at the heart of a Mediterranean effort towards a Water-Energy-Food and Ecosystems Nexus. 

The overall objective of the WEFE4MED project is to foster the adoption of a Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus approach in the Mediterranean through a Nexus Community of Practice (NCoP) to confront the climatic and environmental challenges facing societies and agro-ecological systems. Bringing together practitioners, scientists, policymakers, civil society, media, entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors, the NCoP will convene, share knowledge and build capacities by deploying best practices and science-based policies and innovative solutions inspired by leading WEFE demonstration sites, showcasing the benefits of integrated natural resource management for sustainable, climate-resilient development in the Mediterranean.

Climate Change and growing populations are placing additional pressure on the availability of food, energy and water in the Mediterranean, accompanied by an increased environmental footprint. The Water, Energy, Food, Ecosystems Nexus (Nexus) approach is key to ensuring resilient, circular and green economies and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and Nexus demonstrators are already showing its transformative potential for the Region. However, there is a long way ahead before the Nexus approach is mainstreamed and applied at large in policies and practices.

Thus, Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems are some of the most pressing issues facing all Mediterranean countries, and yet they are often dealt with in a “silo” approach by different communities of researchers, who often have no impact at the policy level. With this project, for the first time ever, the practitioners from these very different disciplines (Water, Energy, Food, Ecosystems) will be brought under one roof to help resolve the Mediterranean’s most pressing environmental problems. Additionally, the best pilot projects in the Mediterranean for the WEFE Nexus approach will be transformed into living laboratories, connected directly to policy makers and potential investors and donors, so as to scale up and replicate these examples throughout the Mediterranean.

The 4-year project, funded to the amount of 2 million Euros, is truly vast in scope as it will ultimately involve all 22 countries in the Mediterranean, in addition to the partners in Europe, and will bring together dozens of the best examples of the WEFE Nexus approach. Never has a science-policy network of this magnitude been created in the Mediterranean.

To ramp up uptake, a robust mechanism is needed to support mobilization of a range of stakeholders across countries, sharing their anticipations, experiences and knowledge, and providing evidence of benefits to policy makers, investors, business, practitioners and the society at large.

The NCoP will foster long-lasting cooperation between actors as well as WEFE demonstrators to replicate and scale up best practices in other countries, and to disseminate their achievements, including as part of a science-based advocacy effort aimed at policy-makers and investors. In doing so, WEFE4MED will establish an open digital Nexus Knowledge Hub, will twin flagship demos and promote mutual learning among knowledge holders while promoting external funding opportunities. Through a structured participatory process, WEFE4MED will design, establish and operate a functional dialogue and cooperation platform that will sustain beyond the project life due to the commitment on Nexus objectives of project partners and more actors that will join the journey through the project’s efforts.

This project follows from the WEFE Nexus Science Advances Conference, hosted by The Cyprus Institute, and co-organised in September 2021 with the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation and the Joint Research Centre), the Union for the Mediterranean, and PRIMA, with the objective of promoting the creation of a Mediterranean WEFE Nexus Community of Practice.

PRIMA, which is funding the WEFE4MED project, is comprised of 19 participating states, Mediterranean and EU countries which have a common research and innovation strategy addressing the challenges in climate change, population growth and food security, water scarcity and overexploitation of natural resources, sustainable agriculture, agro-biodiversity loss, reinforcing Mediterranean lifestyle: diet, physical activity, socio-cultural, Mediterranean agro-food value chains. The PRIMA vision is for inclusive, healthy and prosperous Mediterranean societies through innovative solutions in agro-food and water systems, contributing, by the end of the programme, to sustainable use of natural resources, economic growth and stability. The PRIMA mission is “To achieve, support and promote integration, alignment and joint implementation of national R&I programmes under a common research and innovation strategy to address the diverse challenges in water scarcity, agriculture, food security”. Its core objectives are:

  • ALIGNMENT OF NATIONAL PROGRAMMES: Orientation of relevant national research and innovation programmes towards the implementation of the strategic agenda.
  • CRITICAL MASS OF ACTORS AND RESOURCES: Involvement of all relevant public and private sector actors in implementing the strategic agenda by pooling knowledge and financial resources to achieve the necessary critical mass.
  • STRENGTHENING R&I CAPACITIES: Strengthening of the research and innovation funding capacities and of the implementation capabilities of all actors involved including SMEs, academia, non-governmental organisations and local research centres.