Interactions and feedbacks between rapidly increasing multiple pressures on water, energy and food security drive social-ecological systems towards critical thresholds in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). These pressures, including climate change, the growing demand on resources and resource degradation, urbanization and globalization, cause unprecedented challenges for humanity.
In order to develop effective solutions, Europe and the MENA countries need to act in concert in order to tackle the grand challenges posed by climate change and the Water-Energy- Food Nexus. The EWACC-Building Bridges initiative is aiming to address this need.
This will involve a new, coherent approach to foster a long-lasting partnership between Europe and MENA. It consists of a series of dedicated events addressing the following strategic goals (Figure 1):
- Promoting the next generation of scientists through a dedicated summer school,
Broadening and deepening the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue on grand challenges
- Fostering inter-regional scientific cooperation through teaming/twinning and launching of specific research projects through consortium building workshops.
The EWACC-Building Bridges initiative will bring together a broad range of expertise - distinguished scientists from various research fields, the private sector, policy makers, funding agencies and high-level officials. The initiative aims to foster sustainable development and enable new partnerships in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Figure 1: Strategic goals of EWACC-Building Bridges
Scientific Focus of the Initiative
EWACC – Building Bridges will address three major foci:
- Climate Change: quantification, understanding and the specification of mitigation and adaptation strategies
- Food security, water scarcity and sustainable development.
- Renewable (solar) energy, natural gas and the opportunity for hybrid energy systems.
Building on previous events
The main conference builds on three preceding events: The EWACC2010, the Symposium “Solar Energy for Science/building bridges in 2011” and EWACC2012 – Building Bridges in 2012. Similar to EWACC2012 – Building Bridges, the conference will be preceded by a Young Scholars Forum, which offers high-level lectures on topics relevant to the themes of EWACC, high-level, hands-on training in water-, climate- and energy sciences and opportunities for advancing career planning and entrepreneurship for young professionals from the MENA countries and Europe.
Fostering inter-regional research partnerships
While building on the achievements of the previous conferences, we will strive to derive more tangible results of EWACC-Building Bridges in 2015. This will be accomplished through activities prior and after the conference aimed at forging concrete partnerships between colleagues from the MENA countries and Europe. Such partnerships should lay the ground for joint proposals to national, international or European Union funding mechanisms. In order to facilitate such partnership building, we envision a possible pre-conference event where we would invite interested colleagues, as well as officers from funding organizations to meet about a possible course of action during and after the conference. During the conference, and as part of the discussions following keynote lectures, prospective project ideas will be explored. Following the conference, these ideas will be scrutinized in a Consortium-Building Workshop, where three working groups will address each of the three key topics listed above. The discussions will be facilitated by one colleague each from Europe and the MENA countries. Again, we plan to involve project offices from funding agencies to assist in scoping out proposal ideas. Once these proposals have been defined, a follow-on satellite event in one of the MENA countries will pursue the writing of concrete proposals in one or more of the key topics addressed. Through this approach, the EWACC team will indeed have served the purpose of bridge-building between the MENA region and Europe.