UNU-FLORES Showcases Nexus Observatory at Chapel Hill Conference

  • 2018/04/30     United States

    Image: Tom Fuldner

    By Atiqah Fairuz Salleh, Communications and Advocacy

    The Nexus 2018 conference (full programme) at Chapel Hill focussed on discussing experiences and lessons learnt with bridging the science-policy divide with the expectation of informing discussions at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2018.

    UNU-FLORES showcased lessons emerging from the implementation of the Nexus Observatory project and received very positive feedback from the nexus community at Chapel Hill.

    In particular, Nexus 2018 (16–18 April) recognised the Wastewater Reuse Effectiveness Index (WREI), one of the main outcomes of the Nexus Observatory project, as one of the nexus tools that will advance the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is outlined in a draft outcome document by the conference directors, a final version of which will be circulated to Member States for their consideration when preparing their Ministerial Declaration for HLPF.

    Organised by The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the second conference of the series addressed the nexus between Water-Energy-Food (WEF) and Climate.

    The Nexus Observatory

    Advancing a Nexus Approach to the sustainable management of natural resources requires better alignment of data collection, access to complete data, comparable standards, better analysis of data, as well as a unified monitoring framework. The Nexus Observatory is an initiative of UNU-FLORES, which aims to advance data classification, strengthen monitoring frameworks, and facilitate governance processes for evidence-based decision-making and knowledge transfer. Read more on the project here.

    As rightly pointed out in the outcome document drafted, there is a clear need to build integrated approaches into SDG implementation. In the session on “Nexus Partnerships: Sharing Experiences and Lessons Learned” co-convened by UNU-FLORES and UN-Habitat, Dr Mathew Kurian highlighted five major outcomes of the Nexus Observatory project as a mechanism to bridge the gap between science and policy.

    (From left) Louise Karlberg (SEI), Anjanette Raymond (Indiana University), Bassel Daher (Texas A&M University), and Mathew Kurian (UNU-FLORES) on the panel discussing nexus partnerships at Chapel Hill (Image: Tom Fuldner).

    Chaired by Louise Karlberg (Stockholm Environment Institute), the session explored among other things the lessons learnt from applying the nexus concept of trade-offs to develop, validate, and pilot test a monitoring methodology for SDG 6.3. Dr Kurian shared the experience of “working together” on the target through the WREI. Graham Alabaster of UN-Habitat also shared his insights during the session via Skype. Anjanette Raymond (Indiana University), Bassel Daher (Texas A&M University), and Claudia Ringler (International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI) were also part of the panel.

    WREI, Outcome of the Nexus Observatory

    The Wastewater Reuse Effectiveness Index (WREI) is a monitoring tool developed in collaboration with UN-Habitat (custodian agency for SDG target 6.3). It will be piloted with support from the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation of the State Secretariat of São Paulo, Brazil. The overall approach adopted by the WREI was endorsed by 11 countries that participated in a workshop that was co-organised by UN-Habitat, UNU-FLORES, and Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA) at the 2017 Arab Water Week in Amman, Jordan.

    Image: Tom Fuldner

    Alongside the WREI, Dr Kurian, who heads the Capacity Development and Governance unit at UNU-FLORES, also drew attention to the Nexus Observatory online courses targeted at decision makers, ongoing research undertaken by PhD researchers (Sekela Twisa and Solomon Gebrechorkos) at UNU-FLORES to advance agreements with ministries on drought risk monitoring in East Africa, publications on the Nexus Approach, and policy-relevant research collaboration through the Belmont WEF nexus grant.

    These initiatives resulting from the Nexus Observatory project strengthen efforts to bridge science and policy in practice.