Changes in demographics, urbanisation and climate are significantly impacting the availability and use of environmental resources such as energy, water and land. Traditional approaches to resource management ignore the interconnectedness of environmental resources, treating them in isolation rather than in combination. That is, they ignore how the use of and alterations to one environmental resource impacts others. In light of the dynamic conditions influencing resource management, sustainable development requires new integrated strategies.
However, the complex relations between demands, resource availability and quality, and financial and physical constraints can only be considered through knowledge-based policies and professional practice. Sustainable resource management methods need to go beyond static input-output models and engage with the complexity of the interconnected Earth System. In other words, ensuring human health and well-being and sustainable development for all requires a change in mindset about managing resources – a Nexus Approach.
The United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) was established to help address this challenge. UNU-FLORES develops strategies to resolve pressing problems in the sustainable use and integrated management of environmental resources, particularly water, soil and waste. Focusing on the needs of the United Nations and its Member States, particularly developing countries and emerging economies, the Institute engages in research, capacity development, advanced teaching and training as well as dissemination of knowledge. In all activities, UNU-FLORES strives to fulfil its mission of advancing a Nexus Approach to the sustainable management of environmental resources.
UNU-FLORES was established in Dresden, Germany in 2012 with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts (SMWK) of the Free State of Saxony, Germany.
UNU-FLORES is one of 13 institutes and programmes, located in 12 different countries, which together comprise the United Nations University (UNU)—a global think tank and postgraduate teaching organization, headquartered in Tokyo.
The mission of UNU is to contribute, through collaborative research and education, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.
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Dr. Reza Ardakanian of Iran is the Founding Director of UNU-FLORES. He has served as Director of the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development hosted by UNU since 2007 and served as Vice-Rector of UNU in Europe from 2009–2011. He has been on the boards of various international programmes/organizations such as the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme, the UNESCO Institute for Water Education, the International Hydropower Association, and the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security.
He holds a PhD in Water Resources Management from McMaster University (Canada) and is a faculty member of Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. He formerly held a number of national offices in Iran, including Deputy Minister for Water Affairs (2001–2005), Senior Vice-Minister (1998–2001) and Deputy Minister for Planning & Economic Affairs (1989–1991) with the Ministry of Energy, and Deputy Minister for Urban Development and Municipalities with the Ministry of Interior (1987–1989).
In developing its functional structure, UNU-FLORES has positioned itself well to consolidate the scientific foundation of the Nexus Approach. The institutional arrangement is a direct response to critical knowledge gaps relating to integrated management of the environmental resources water, soil and waste. The organization of UNU-FLORES into five academic units – three core scientific units (Water Resources Management (WRM), Waste Management (WM) and Soil and Land Use Management (SLM)) supported by two cross-cutting units (System Flux Analysis Considering Global Change Assessment (SFA) and Capacity Development and Governance (CDG)) – supports the think tank function of the Institute. All scientific units are supported by the operational support units, which consist of the Office of the Director, Finance and Administration, Communications and Advocacy, and Computing and ICT.