LisboNexus Training School
Taha Loghmani, United Nations University-FLORES; Dresden University of Technology
Lisbon, Portugal, is a beautiful city with a rich cultural heritage and a thriving tourist industry. But like many cities worldwide, Lisbon faces major challenges related to the “water, energy, and food “nexus.” The nexus idea states that these three essential components of modern life are closely linked and that solutions to one problem can often create new problems in the other two areas.
In the case of Lisbon, the rapidly growing population and tourism industry have overstretched the city’s water resources. Portugal is also heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its energy supply, leading to problems with climate change and energy security. Finally, the country’s agricultural sector needs help to be competitive in a globalized food market, which can lead to food insecurity for some population groups.
Despite these challenges, there are many efforts to promote Nexus thinking and address these issues. For example, the Nexus Training School 2023, organized by NexusNet COST in collaboration with ISCTE Lisbon, brought together students, experts, and practitioners worldwide to share knowledge and best practices around Nexus solutions. The training program focused on critical topics such as sustainable urban development, circular economy, integrated water resource management, and nature-based solutions.
One example of a Nexus solution in Lisbon is implementing a “smart” water management system that uses advanced sensors and data analytics to optimize water consumption across the city. Another example is using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power to reduce Portugal’s dependence on fossil fuels and carbon footprint. Finally, efforts to promote sustainable agricultural practices and support smallholder farmers can help build a more resilient food system that benefits local communities and the entire ecosystem.
The training school also provided a platform for participants to present their research findings. But the most exciting activity was the group work. The participants were divided into three groups, each offering joint work on Nexus case studies. Our group organized a participatory role play on transboundary water conflict in the Euphrates River basin! Each group consisted of stakeholders from the countries along this river, while the sneakers acted as UN representatives.
Overall, the Nexus approach provides a solid framework for tackling some of the most pressing challenges facing cities like Lisbon and countries like Portugal. By recognizing the interconnectedness of water, energy, and food, we can create more sustainable and equitable solutions that benefit everyone.