Conference objectives

There are no purely sectoral solutions to the sustainable management of Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem resources in the Mediterranean region. Moreover, as the COVID 19 pandemic and the migration flows in some parts of the region are dramatically showing, a transformation of our current thinking and approaches is no longer an option, but a necessity. The key concept of the 2021 WEFE Nexus Science Advances Conference is “addressing interdependencies”. The Conference will analyse the role of science as driver of innovation and its interfacing with the policy and decision-making processes. It will recommend workable measures on how to integrate novel paths in the research and planning of WEFE supply chains through a collaborative response across the Mediterranean region. Participants in the Conference will be scientists and practitioners, as well as social actors and decision makers from diverse WEFE sectors from the entire Mediterranean area, all brought together with the following common objectives:

  • Survey new approaches and modes of practice that can be applied to inform decisions, choose priorities and incentivize the cross-sectoral management of water, energy, food and ecosystem resources.
  • Promote the collection and documentation of WEFE Nexus best practices in the Mediterranean region and incorporate lessons learned in hands-on guidance for the development of sustainable operational targets, in line with the SDGs.
  • Elaborate on the role of a WEFE Nexus Community of Practice to stimulate cross-organisation collaboration and knowledge-sharing around demonstration projects in the Mediterranean region.

The Conference focuses on the Mediterranean dimension, but it is of broad interest to participants from outside the region sharing the same interests and wishing to learn from the Mediterranean experience.


The Conference will be held entirely online with successive high-level panel sessions and group work smoothly spread over three days. It will be highly interactive with discussions at the science-to-policy interface triggered by keynote speakers tasked to review the state-of-the-art in specific areas of the Nexus (Nexus Talks). Participants and panellists will be asked to provide inspiring evidence of mutually beneficial solutions based on the co-production of practical and scientific knowledge. Breakout Groups and poster sessions will offer opportunities for networking.

 How to join the session of your choice

In order to join the Plenary Sessions on the different days of the Conference, you simply need to click on the links below (if you scroll through the programme, you will see that each day’s header is hyperlinked for your convenience):

The conference playlist is on YouTube

 Poster Sessions: You will also notice the Poster Sessions. Each poster is allocated to one of the four poster sessions, and you can find the link to the poster of your choice at the end of this document, or on our website (, where you will also be able to download posters. 

Breakout Groups: on the third day, we will start with Breakout Groups. For this, our audience will be split into small groups. We will circulate more information, about, and links to, the breakout sessions, closer to the day. You can download the background document for the breakout groups here. Please find below the links for the breakout groups:

The GoToWebinar platform:

If you are not familiar with the GoToWebinar platform, which we are using for this conference, we suggest you try out the following links ahead of the conference, which will allow you to download it and learn how to use it effectively:



Monday, 27 September 2021

First day: High level opening and Session 1

10:30 – 11:30 Opening - High Level Political Session

Chaired by Stephen Quest, Director General, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Setting the scene

  • Costas Kadis, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus (introductory video statement)
  • Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment of the Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Nasser Kamel, Ambassador, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean
  • Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Klelia Vasiliou, Commissioner for the Environment of the Republic of Cyprus

Launch of the Gateway to the Future of the Mediterranean 

The “Gateway to the Future of the Mediterranean: Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystems” is dedicated to examining the WEFE Nexus in the Mediterranean. It is a collaborative effort of the EC Joint Research Centre and the Union for the Mediterranean, together with the Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean and other institutions from all shores of the Mediterranean region.

  • Giovanni De Santi, Director, Sustainable Resources Directorate, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Science and practice are both rooted in the society, but they often follow different pathways. Experience gained from practice and traditional knowledge need to be fused with the findings of modern science and open up new opportunities in the management of natural resources. The panel will reflect on how to make the boundary between science and practice more fluid, thus facilitating the implementation of the UfM water agenda, the European Green Deal and the UN SDGs agenda.

 11:45 – 13:00 High Level Session - Science, Society and Policy: From monologues to dialogue

Science and practice are both rooted in the society, but they often follow different pathways. Experience gained from practice and traditional knowledge need to be fused with the findings of modern science and open up new opportunities in the management of natural resources. The panel will reflect on how to make the boundary between science and practice more fluid, thus facilitating the implementation of the UfM water agenda, the European Green Deal and the UN SDGs agenda.

Keynote speaker
• Janez Potočnik, UNEP International Resource Panel/SYSTEMIQ

• Angelo Riccaboni, Chair of PRIMA Foundation
• Isidro González Afonso, Deputy Secretary General, Union for the Mediterranean
• Pavel Misiga, Head of Unit, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
• Stefano Dotto, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission

• Chris Burns, Burnstorm Communications


14:15 – 15:30 Session 1: Renewables-based energy-water approaches as enablers for development

The projected increase of the Mediterranean demand for energy is intimately related to water availability, only made more complex by the expected impacts of climate change. The session focuses on prospects for science- and technology-based solutions to this WEFE Nexus issue. Discussions will address how science can support cross-sectoral negotiations and propose solutions to ensure Mediterranean energy and water security while considering the decarbonisation of the energy sector and a reduction of impacts on the already limited water resources.

Keynote speaker
• Pedro Linares Llamas, Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, Madrid, Spain

• Rabi H. Mohtar, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
• Theodoros Zachariadis, Energy, Environment and Water Research Centre of the Cyprus Institute
• Divyam Nagpal, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Abu Dhabi based
• Jauad El Kharraz, Water-Energy-Climate Experts Network (WECEN), France

• Rene Wyndham, Moderators Europe

15:45 – 16:45 Poster Session 1

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Second day: Session 2 and Session 3

9:45 – 10:45 Poster Session 2

11:00 – 12:15 Session 2: Exploring the resilience of the Mediterranean food and water systems

Food systems in the Mediterranean region cross over political boundaries and connect consumer choices with land and water use. Mapping these connections and the journey of food from farm-to-fork will bring to light hidden impacts of food supply chains on ecosystems and threats to nutritional security of vulnerable social groups. The panel will address how to bridge science and practice to optimize material and energy flows in the Mediterranean food-water nexus and ensure resilience and/or adaptability in the face of disruptions.

Keynote speaker

  • Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations


  • Semia Cherif, University of Tunis El Manar, Higher Institute of Applied Biological Sciences of Tunis (ISSBAT), Tunisia
  • Iddo Kan, Department of Environmental Economics and Management, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel
  • Arianna Giuliodori, Secretary General of the World Farmers' Organisation
  • Gianluca Brunori, University of Pisa, Italy


  • Claire Doole, Claire Doole's Communications


14:15 – 15:30 Session 3: A step change in science to enable Nexus policy decisions under consensus

Governing the complexity of the Nexus and the resulting social and economic consequences goes beyond the capacity of a single sector. This is even more true with an expanding understanding of the Nexus concept to include climate resilience and human health, which are also locked in a spiral of decline with diverse manifestations at the local level. Evidence-based trade-off analyses can support the development of such a multilevel governance. The session will highlight scientific findings and analyse the array of options available to design natural resource allocation regimes and promote policy decisions under consensus. It will also address how to integrate a balanced perspective on the social, economic and human health role of ecosystems.

Keynote speaker

  • Wolfgang Cramer, CNRS Research Director, Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE), Aix-en-Provence, France


  • Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Middle East
  • Irene Sander, Global Nexus Secretariat, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Carlo Giupponi, Department of Economics at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
  • Hani Sewilam, RWTH Aachen University, Germany and the American University in Cairo, Egypt

• Karen Coleman, SkyeByte Productions

15:45 – 16:45 Poster Session 3 

 Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Third day: Breakout Groups and Closing Session

 9:15 – 10:15 Poster Session 4

10:30 – 11:45 Breakout Groups: Designing practical Nexus pilots to show economic and socio-ecological benefits

Although various technical solutions exist, what is lacking is their wide acceptance and on-the-ground application. We need to translate the WEFE Nexus concept and their applied practices into social and economic terms and explain the tangible return to stakeholders. We need to show how the Nexus can offer entrepreneurial and employment opportunities helping people avoid facing desperate dilemmas, such as migration vs. insecurity, or how the Nexus approach can be a tool for local or transboundary conflict resolution, a game changer for addressing inequalities and peace building in the region. Process design is then crucial to support intersectoral dialogues. The task for the Breakout Groups will be to offer demonstration cases likely to show the economic and socio-ecological benefits of the WEFE Nexus approach. Participants will split in small chat rooms to discuss this from different angles, namely:

  • Energy – Water: Moderator: Fadi Comair, Cyprus Institute; Rapporteur: Ad de Roo, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
  • Food – Water: Moderator: Michael Scoullos, Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean; Rapporteur: Antonio Skarmeta Gómez, University of Murcia, Spain
  • Nexus: Moderator: Maria Vrachioli, Department of Agricultural Production and Resource Economics, TUM, Germany; Rapporteur: Fernando Nardi, University for Foreigners of Perugia, Italy
  • Pilots: Moderator: Adriana Bruggeman, Cyprus Institute; Rapporteur: Andrea Castelletti, Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy.

Note: for more information, see the guidelines in the separate document titled “Translating the Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem (WEFE) NEXUS approach into practice: Towards a Mediterranean WEFE Nexus Community of Practice”.

11:45 – 12:30 Sum-up of the Breakout Groups

Each group will present key lessons and suggestions for action based on practical case studies elaborated during the breakout session. On this basis, discussions will focus on the possible formation of a Community of Practice designed to engage partners in experience sharing from hands-on WEFE Nexus actions in the Mediterranean region, based on voluntary contributions made by competent partners.


14:00 – 15:15 High Level Panel: Creating opportunities

Recasting and implementing a new science-to-practice Nexus programme: enabling partnerships among practitioners, scientists and Mediterranean policy and decision makers to make Nexus progress happen at operational level. Discussions will explore how to engage partners in experience sharing from hands-on WEFE Nexus related actions and a network of demonstration cases in the Mediterranean region.

• Mohamed El Shinawi, Co-chair of PRIMA Foundation
• Almotaz Abadi, Managing Director Water, Union for the Mediterranean
• Elisabetta Balzi, Head of Unit, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
• Ayman Ayad, Water and Utilities Sector Manager, Delegation of the European Union to Egypt, Cairo
• Ad de Roo, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Award of the PRIMA WEFE Nexus prizes

PRIMA will award two recognition Prizes "The PRIMA WEFE Nexus Awards" to those research teams and practitioners having devised and demonstrated the successful implementation of combined management practices of water, energy, food and ecosystem resources at the local or regional scale in the Mediterranean (Prizes - PRIMA (

  • John Bell, Director, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission


  • Anya Sitaram, Rockhopper Media

Prize winner videos:

15:15 – 16:00 Closing High Level Political Session

The way forward

Chaired by John Bell - Director Research and Innovation, and Giovanni De Santi - Director Sustainable Resources Directorate, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

  • Cristina Messa, Minister of University and Research of Italy
  • Samia Moualfi, Minister for Environment of Algeria
  • Jihad Al Mahami, Secretary General of Ministry of Water and Irrigation of Jordan

Farewell by Costas N. Papanicolas, advisor to the President of the Republic of Cyprus on Climate Change and Presidential Special Envoy for Climate Change.