Unlocking Stakeholder Engagement in WEFE Nexus: The Dresden Experience
Dr Vladimir Radivojević, Assistant Professor, University of Pristina in Kosovska Mitrovica, Faculty of Economics, Serbia
Dresden, located in the heart of Europe, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of pioneering sustainability initiatives. But behind its picturesque façade lies a thriving center for innovation and collaboration that is making waves in the world of the water-energy-food-environment (WEFE) nexus. Dresden is a city steeped in history, with stunning architecture and a rich cultural heritage. But like many other places, it is not immune to the challenges of the modern world. The region’s unique geographical features, including access to the River Elbe, make it an ideal location for my Short-Term Scientific Mission (STSM) to explore the intricacies of the WEFE nexus. The city mixes old charm and modern industry, creating a dynamic backdrop for sustainability initiatives.
Germany, known for its engineering skills and commitment to the environment, provides fertile ground for projects like this to flourish. Dresden is a cultural and educational center that brings together various people, ideas, and expertise. This diversity of thought and experience has contributed significantly to the success of the WEFE Nexus initiatives. At UNU-Flores, a team of dedicated people, led by my STSM host, Associate Program Officer Dr. Serena Caucci, has come together to address these complicated connections. They recognized that understanding how key stakeholders impact or are impacted by the implementation of the Nexus is essential for sustainable solutions.
As I delved into the complexities of the Nexus with these intrepid researchers at UNU-Flores, we discovered a web of interdependencies. Over seven weeks, working both on-site and remotely, we meticulously collected, analyzed, and interpreted data from more than 30 WEFE Nexus projects in Mediterranean countries. We created a stakeholder map with this data, promoting engagement and supporting knowledge co-production. How stakeholders engage and co-produce knowledge directly impacts the success of WEFE Nexus projects. Furthermore, we have found that success rates increase when solutions come from the bottom up and are driven by the stakeholders affected by them. Working with non-governmental organizations and the private sector increases the likelihood that these solutions will be implemented.
Participating in the NEXUSNET COST Action and starting my STSM in Dresden has been an incredible journey. It’s not just about the remarkable insights I’ve gained into the complex world of the WEFE Nexus but also about the people I’ve met along the way. As I wrap up my STSM mission in this enchanting city, I can’t help but be grateful for the experiences, knowledge, and friendships that will stay with me long after I leave.
As I said at the beginning of this blog, Dresden may not be the first place you think of when it comes to sustainability. Still, it is a shining example of how engagement, collaboration, and a deep understanding of the WEFE Nexus can lead to positive change. The lessons learned here apply not only to this region but to the whole of Europe and beyond. By working together, listening to stakeholders, and implementing solutions from the bottom up, we can create a future where water, energy, food, and the environment are in perfect harmony. The success in Dresden shows us that sustainability knows no boundaries and is worth pursuing this path.
Keywords: WEFE Nexus, Stakeholder Engagement, Knowledge Co-production