The transition to circular water solutions in the water-food-energy nexus requires involvement of all stakeholders

KWR experts share their work on the NextGen Communities of Practice and the SIM4Nexus Serious Game at the Dresden Nexus Conference (June 3-5, 2020)

For a transition to a circular economy the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and citizens is needed. Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Serious Games (SG) are an effective way to organize this participation as they provide for actual engagement, exchange of opinions and experiences, and collective learning. At the Dresden Nexus Conference, KWR will present the NextGen CoP social learning framework and provide a SIM4Nexus SG training session.

At KWR we support the water sector with knowledge to remain resilient and future proof, anticipating challenges, e.g. climate change, sustainable development and the transition to a circular economy (CE). A new perspective of the whole water system and organization is needed. A perspective in which the water sector optimizes its connection to other sectors and developments, such as energy, agriculture, urban planning, informatics etc. Essential in this transition towards a CE is the active involvement and participation of stakeholders and citizens from the start of the design stages. Within the EU H2020 NextGen project on circular water solutions, stakeholder engagement is organised through CoP’s and SG.

Evaluation framework for analysing social learning outcomes in CoPs

Evaluation framework for analysing social learning outcomes in CoPs

NextGen CoP’s on circular water solutions

NextGen demonstrates innovative technological, business and governance solutions for water in the circular economy in ten high-profile, large-scale cases across Europe. At each demo case, a CoP is set up to promote a multi-stakeholder approach to discuss CE water technologies in its institutional context. The CoP’s aim to create an engagement environment around the demonstrated innovations in which stakeholders across the water value chain interact and collaborate.

Stakeholder involvement can secure the (long-term) implementation of water solutions on the ground. This is in particular important for circular water solutions which rely on stakeholder engagement from the whole water value chain, i.e. from all related sectors in the circular economy. In our CoP meetings we notice that involving a broad group of stakeholders can lead to new perspectives on the circular water solutions.

Knowledge Co-Production

It is important to create the conditions for social learning in these CoP meetings that enable this co-production of knowledge. Success factors are a good organisation and facilitation. Otherwise the participants will perceived it as a time-consuming gathering without any social learning, or will misuse it to legitimize stakeholder participation.

Although the major benefit of CoPs is the opportunity for stakeholder to share knowledge and co-develop, an evaluation framework for analysing social learning outcomes in CoPs did not exist. We have now developed this evaluation framework as presented at the Dresden Nexus Conference.

SIM4Nexus SG

For the participation of a particular stakeholder, the citizen, NextGen will develop a SG and an Augmented Reality application that allow citizens to visualise and understand options and challenges in a circular approach to water management. We will build on experience gained from the SG developed in the EU H2020 SIM4Nexus project on the water-energy-food nexus. The SG shows the impacts of resource use and relevant policies on agriculture, water, energy, land use and climate. The SG allows various groups of stakeholders to better understand the interlinkages between sectors, while experts can discuss the most effective policies to address cross-sectoral synergies and trade-offs. At the Dresden Nexus Conference, a SIM4Nexus SG training session will be organised.