The water, energy, food and ecosystem (WEFE) nexus is a complex interrelationship governed by climatic and socio-economic drivers. We need holistic cross-sector considerations and policies to achieve resource use efficiency, leverage synergies and promote cross-sectoral cooperation.

NEXOGENESIS, a four-year European Commission-funded project coordinated by IHE Delft supports and informs the development of next-generation effective and intelligent water-related policies to manage resources properly. It applies artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning tools, and appropriate approaches to understanding and assessing the WEFE nexus’s complexity.

WEFE Nexus: Complex and poorly understood

The project identifies a combination of challenges, namely: (1) a complex and poorly understood interrelationship between water, energy and food (WEF); (2) the lack of ecosystem integration into the WEF system thinking; (3) a sectoral approach to policy development; and (4) limited understanding of how policy impacts WEFE nexus thinking and application.

A better understanding of the impact of policies on the WEFE nexus by exploiting artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to assist policymakers in guiding integrated policy design is required to achieve sectoral synergy. Such improved understanding will facilitate coherent water-related policy design to achieve resource use efficiency, leverage synergies, and promote cross-sectoral cooperation.

Establishing a coherent cross-sectoral policy-making framework

Together with stakeholders, policymakers, and academics, NEXOGENISIS develops, validates and applies the following approaches to four European and one southern African case studies:

(1) a coherent cross-sectoral policy-making framework at different scales addressing climate and socio-economic change, as well as stakeholder behaviour and transboundary (diplomacy) issues, developed for and validated by stakeholders, policymakers, and academics;

(2) a Self-Learning Nexus Assessment Engine (SLNAE) exploiting reinforcement learning, and supporting streamlining water-related policies into the WEFE nexus; and

(3) a WEFE Nexus Footprint, accompanying the SLNAE.

Through the case studies, strong stakeholder engagement and validation of output, NEXOGENESIS aims to improve policies and policy-making processes, enhance cooperation and help the EU achieve targets related to the Water Framework Directive, the greener CAP, Green Deal ambitions, as well as ambitions on water diplomacy.

NEXOGENESIS impact pathways


Collaboration between 20 stakeholders, policymakers and academics

NEXOGENESIS is a four-year H2020 project under the EU Water in the context of the topic “Understanding climate-water-energy-food nexus and streamlining water-related policies”. A total of 20 stakeholders, policymakers and academics collaborate in the project, including IHE Delft (Coordinator), KWR Water Research Institute, EURAC Research, CMCC, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, EURECAT, Wageningen Research, National Technical University of Athens, Ca’Foscari University, University of Tours, Uppsala University, University of Thessaly, Baltic Environmental Forum, Jones and Wagener, GAC, Business Development Group, Tamara Avellan, Municipality of Nestos, Municipality of Gotse Delchev and Water Europe.