The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina in the USA reconvened the Nexus conference addressing the Water-Energy-Food and Climate on the 16th to 18th of April, 2018. The conference facilitated space for the development of collaborative work and focus on the: Science-policy interface; partnerships; solutions; review of Sustainable Development Goal commitments; sharing of tools, indicators and methodologies; and the identification of gaps.
I was invited as a panellist in Session 6 of the conference. The theme of the panel was: ‘Increasing the Relevance of Science in Nexus Policy Making’, and was chaired by Lyn Ametewee, a Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Georgia State University. My fellow panellist was Oliver Schmoll, the Programme Manager of Management of Natural Resources: Water and Sanitation at the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health in Bonn.
I started off the panel with my presentation titled ‘Community-Science-Policy: Making the Nexus work’. My presentation was informed by lessons from the CoDEC research project, in which we have forged collaborations across disciplines and with non-academic partners to address the energy-health challenge in African cities. In response to the theme of the panel, I focused on our efforts to facilitate dialogue between community members, experts and policy actors in the three case studies of the CoDEC project in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.
To demonstrate our achievements, I gave the example of the CoDEC project workshop that we had just held on the 9th to 11th of April 2018 in Nairobi. I explained how we facilitated a stakeholder engagement session, in which community members from Mathare informal settlement interacted with experts and policy actors to tackle the question of how we can work better with communities to make science that has policy relevance. In emphasis, I explained how we are using data from our CoDEC study to influence policy implementation by the Energy Regulatory Commission of Kenya, under the AfriCLP programme. After my presentation, Oliver Schmoll complimented my case study focus with a discussion on the overarching frameworks needed to support multi-sectoral collaboration. Questions from the floor sought to deepen the understanding of how academia can support policy-oriented transdisciplinary research.
A key message of the conference was that: “The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals can only be achieved if they are pursued in an integrated manner” and therefore, “…the Nexus approach remains essential in that such an approach is fundamental in delivering these goals in an integrated way” (Nexus Message 2018).
By Amollo Ambole