Connecting the Dots | The Resource Nexus & The Role of Science Policy Making for Sustainable Resource Management

organised by
UNU-FLORES and Technische Universität Dresden

aerial photography of body of water

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Would you like to learn more or present your work
at the Nexus Seminar Series? Contact us!

Nexus Seminar Series Coordinator, UNU-FLORES: Dr Serena Caucci (

Nexus Seminar Series Coordinator, PRISMA - Centre for Sustainability Assessment and Policy (TU Dresden): Jun.-Prof. Dr. Samanthi Dijkstra-Silva (

Nexus Seminar Series Associate, UNU-FLORES : Zeynep Ozkul (


The Nexus Seminar Series – organised by UNU-FLORES, in collaboration with PRISMA – Centre for Sustainability Assessment and Policy on behalf of TU Dresden, aims to unpack the complex interconnections between different natural resources and social, economic, and political dynamics, and to explore how the Resource Nexus approach can pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Since its launch in 2015, the Nexus Seminar Series has hosted impressive and thought-provoking sessions and captivating lectures; capturing the attention of researchers and students from diverse fields, and spurring meaningful conversations on the critical issues relevant to integrated resource management.

The seminars feature a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, climate adaptation and resilience, circular economy practices, biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture and food systems, sustainable water and waste management – all of which are essential to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

At the heart of the Nexus Seminar Series is the recognition that effective resource management requires a system thinking approach that considers the human impact on the global environment and the earth system as a whole. By adopting a holistic view of resource management, the Nexus Seminar Series provides a platform to tackle issues related to sustainability and resilience by exploring the interactions between different natural resources and their management through the lens of a range of disciplines and experts. The Nexus Seminar series aims to increase the outreach and impact of multidisciplinary and solution-oriented research across distinct landscapes and regions.

Science-policy interaction is another key aspect of the Nexus Seminar Series to properly translate knowledge into policy and action. This requires effective communication and collaboration between the knowledge providers and implementers in national and international settings. The Nexus Seminar Series intends to inspire, inform, and foster productive dialogue between stakeholders from diverse sectors and disciplines. Through these collective efforts, we strive to achieve a sustainable and resilient future for all; one that is characterised by ecological integrity, social justice, and economic prosperity, and which considers the complex interactions between ecological, social, and economic systems.

The Nexus Seminars provide a space for an exchange of ideas, to share knowledge, and to explore innovative solutions to complex sustainability challenges - while contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. By highlighting the interconnections and interdependencies between different sectors and systems, the seminars promote a holistic approach to sustainability that acknowledges the importance of addressing the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of development. In promoting this approach, the Nexus Seminar Series actively advocates for the 17 SDGs as decreed by the United Nations and remains committed to the empowerment of individuals and organisations to create positive change for a more sustainable future.

brown tree branch on brown field during daytime

Photo by Juanita Swart on Unsplash

Photo by Juanita Swart on Unsplash

The definition of the Nexus Approach from the perspective of UNU-FLORES

“The Nexus Approach to environmental resources management examines the interrelatedness and interdependencies of environmental resources and their transitions and fluxes across spatial scales and between compartments. Instead of just looking at individual components, the functioning, productivity, and management of a complex system are taken into consideration.”

a large body of water surrounded by a forest

Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash

Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash


The Summer Semester of 2023 saw the Nexus Seminar Series feature a lineup of outstanding speakers - each offering an in-depth look at the Resource Nexus, along with perspectives on cutting-edge research, practical experience in the field, and policy development across local, national, and international levels. To gain further insights into the topics discussed during the last season’s  Series, let's take a closer look at some of the key messages and perspectives shared by the experts who participated.

green snake on brown soil

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Nexus Seminar 66 

Modern Slavery: Challenges for business and society 

Dr Katherine Christ, University of South Australia Business 

Even though slavery was abolished, modern slavery still exists with approximately 50 million victims (about twice the population of Texas). Modern slavery is hidden in the products that we use every day, and it makes us support modern slavery unintentionally. Modern slavery is a practice that incorporates various forms of exploitation including forced labour, the worst forms of child labour, debt-bonded labour and traditional slavery (Nolan & Boersma, 2019). In Nexus Seminar N. 66, Dr Katherine Christ from the University of South Australia Business, presented slavery in the 21st century based on her research on modern slavery. Modern slavery is everywhere, developed countries are no exception. However, it does not exist in the same proportion. Females and children, especially in the Asia-Pacific region are highly suffered. 354 billion dollars of goods at risk of modern slavery are imported into G20 countries(ILO, 2022).  

person holding clay

Photo by Esteban Castle on Unsplash

Photo by Esteban Castle on Unsplash

$354 billion

Females and children, especially in the Asia-Pacific region are highly suffered. 354 billion dollars of goods at risk of modern slavery are imported into G20 countries(Walk Free Foundation, 2018).

Dr Christ delved into the deficiency of the act by exemplifying the Australian modern slavery act. Due to a lack of knowledge, expertise, and a system, companies are unable to meet the conditions required by the act, for example, to describe the risks of modern slavery practices in supply chains and the actions taken to address those risks. The way the government responds decreases the effect of the act. Compliance levels have been variable, and no penalties for non-compliance make businesses ignore mandatory requirements.  The government maintains that societal measures like boycotts will serve as punishment, rather than relying solely on government-imposed penalties. However, limited awareness of society often leads to a lack of effective consequences. 

We can't simply dismiss it as unreported modern slavery. Just because it hasn't come to light doesn't mean it didn't happen. How can we know if the business reports only the top of the problem? Dr Christ suggested ‘due diligence’. It can remove many of the options for organizations to adopt a weak response. Mandatory due diligence laws push companies to demonstrate that they are taking all necessary measures to identify, prevent, and mitigate incidents. 

The lecture suggested two perceptions to pave the way forward. In terms of business, cooperation between competitors, engagement of multi-stakeholders, and tools to collect information along the supply chain are necessary. Among the public, the executive level and a broader level of education should be conducted. In the end, Dr Christ highlighted keeping the victims foremost in mind.  

Nexus Seminar 67 

Integrated approaches to flood and drought management  

Dr Valentin Aich, Global Water Partnership and World Meteorological Organization

Climate change, not being the sole cause of rising temperatures, is a catalyst for accelerating extreme floods and drought. Nexus Seminar N. 67 invited Dr Valentin Aich to discuss an integrated approach to dealing with severe floods and drought. Dr Aich is in charge of the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM), and Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) which are joint with the World Meteorological organization(WMO), and the Global Water Partnership.  

The devastating floods struck Germany's Ahr River in July 2021 and killed 134 people. The damage of this flood affected the near nations, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland. Despite the European flood alert System warning for several days ahead with sufficient technical knowledge, the disaster's impact was staggering. Dr Aich pointed out the reasons as a failure of the communication chain, underestimation of the flood announcement, and insufficient response of the local government.  

Even if we achieve the best scenario of the Paris Agreement which is 1.5’C above pre-industrial levels, heavy precipitation will increase 1.5 times, and drought will be 2.0 times. Dr Aich suggested a proactive and integrated approach to address this foreseen disaster. Rather than crisis management, risk management is pivotal. While crisis management tackles symptoms, risk management targets underlying hazards, ultimately reducing expenses and vulnerabilities.  n keeping history, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.

In most languages, writing is a complement to speech or spoken language. Writing is not a language but a form of technology. Within a language system, writing relies on many of the same structures as speech, such as vocabulary, grammar and semantics, with the added dependency of a system of signs or symbols, usually in the form of a formal alphabet. The result of writing is generally called text, and the recipient of text is called a reader. Motivations for writing include publication, storytelling, correspondence and diary. Writing has been instrumental in keeping history, dissemination of knowledge through the media and the formation of legal systems.

aerial view of city buildings during daytime

Photo by Dylan Leagh on Unsplash

Photo by Dylan Leagh on Unsplash

Following this approach, APFM and IDMP were established. APFM has been promoting the concept of integrated flood management that integrates risk, land use, and water resources management. This approach seeks to maximize net benefits and minimize loss of life, embrace environmental preservation and sustainable development. IDMP is dedicated to monitoring, early warning, risk and impact assessment, risk mitigation, preparedness, and response. A notable contribution from these programs is the helpdesk. The experts directly provide advice such as rapid guidance, capacity building, and pilot projects.  

The UN Global Early Warning Initiative for the Implement of Climate Adaptation, launched in March 2022, includes the active participation of APFM and IDMP. This lecture emphasizes risk management and an integrated approach to address the increasing occurrence of more severe floods and droughts resulting from climate change. Dr Aich’s lecture emphasized not only technological integration but also the involvement of diverse stakeholders on the policy level, especially farmers, as they are big lobbies and earliest hit by droughts. Additionally, addressing the needs of vulnerable groups such as migrants in developing countries and women responsible for water supply is imperative. An inclusive, whole-of-society approach emerges as a pivotal strategy. 

Nexus Seminar 68

TUM as front runner with a targeted research and teaching agenda on WEF Nexus 

Dr Daphne Keilmann-Gondhalekar,  Chair of Urban Water Systems Engineering, Technical University of Munich 

We are facing three urgent crises- climate change and biodiversity, energy and food, and conflicts on access to resources. As these are interlinked, an approach should also be integrated, and it shows the importance of Nexus. The theme of Nexus was on the rise since the Bonn conference in 2011. A nexus approach can enhance water, energy, and food security by increasing efficiency, reducing trade-offs, building synergies, and improving governance across sectors. 

In Nexus Seminar N. 68, Dr Daphne Keilmann-Gondhalekar introduced  Nexus at TUM organized in 2021 which conducts impacted-oriented research and teaching program. The program strives to spotlight transition pathways and innovative metropolitan development models that can effectively curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Comprising a multidisciplinary research group of engineers and social scientists, each contributing their expertise, the Nexus program also serves as a platform for students to cultivate soft skills and creativity. 

A chair of urban water system engineering, Dr Keilmann-Gondhalekar showed an opportunity to recapture and conserve resources through effective wastewater management systems. Centralized sewerage systems are the prevalent system around the world. Under climate change, centralized sewerage systems are not resilient due to their high water and energy intensity during operation. In contrast, the decentralized alternative system consumes less energy and produces less greenhouse gas than centralized systems.  

Urban areas often adhere to a linear "take-make-waste" paradigm, relying heavily on external resources and discharging waste. This linear infrastructure system drives high greenhouse gas emissions and is resource intensive while taking products from outside and flushing the products outside. It can threaten public health risks, lack resilience and adaptative capacity. Circular cross-sectoral Nexus can be a solution. These close resource loops will help cities to achieve a net zero carbon system by achieving self-sufficiency from its resources.  

an aerial view of a river with a boat in it

Photo by Walter Martin on Unsplash

Photo by Walter Martin on Unsplash

The lecture delved into case studies from ‘TUM at Nexus’ dealing with decentralized systems and close resource loops. The first example is Leh Town in Indian Himalaya which adopted a decentralized alternative system. It can save water and energy to solve increased water demand and water pollution. The second example is Dar in Niger. Suggesting a holistic circular Nexus approach, they integrated plans of water energy and food with ecosystem services. Via this approach, the threat of flood changed into water resources that can save water and energy, and recover the soil.  

The lecture pointed out the challenges and opportunities of the Nexus application in Munich and Singapore. The case studies showed how we can find opportunities for Nexus application from its institutionalization, financing cases, and potential for upscaling. Through the Nexus approach, various stakeholders and different international levels can cooperate and expand finance through Private-Public-People Partnerships.  

Nexus Seminar 69

Why African entrepreneurs are global leaders of innovation for sustainable development, and what we can learn from them 

Jun.-Prof. Dr Philipp Trotter, University of Oxfo

The surge in African entrepreneurship has become a catalyst for motivating and inspiring sustainable innovation. Junior-Professor Dr Philipp Trotter from the University of Oxford discussed the potential of African entrepreneurs to lead sustainable development and insight from their innovation via Nexus Seminar N. 69. By shedding light on a business model for sustainability transition, innovation of energy related to SDG 7 on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and lessons from African entrepreneurship, this lecture aims to highlight the potential of sustainable entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The standards to be global innovation leaders are changing. While the past emphasized numerous research and development, the future calls for a more holistic approach with diversified goals and benefits, transcending mere economic growth. Sustainable entrepreneurship requires deep changes to motivation, goals, and value creation.  

Sub-Saharan Africa faces considerable challenges in sustainable development, including resource scarcity, inadequate infrastructure, and basic services. Therefore, business models play a pivotal role in addressing these issues. Dr Trotter introduced bundling of energy and cold chain enterprise in Uganda. His research analyzed this business in the value proposition, value capture, and value networks by utilizing an architectural business model. Through the combination of mini-grid and flake ice production for local fishers, they became able to reduce losses and enable efficient fish transportation. This innovative business exemplifies multiple values and extensive partnership networks. 

The second business model, circular business focuses on delivering value while closing, slowing, and narrowing resource loops. Dr Trotter presents compelling examples, including battery reutilization, electricity production through bio gasification, and crafting prosthetics from plastic waste.  

black and white building under white clouds

Standard of global innovation leader

The lecture underscores the importance of learning from African entrepreneurship. African entrepreneurs demonstrate remarkable creativity and resilience in overcoming structural disadvantages compared to Global North. By analyzing African government policies, we gain valuable insights into how governance impacts sustainable development, including the balance between subsidies and constraints. Through those case studies, sustainable development management theory can be established.  

Overall, the lecture provided various sustainable development business models and innovations in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, it highlighted the lessons from African innovators and how we can utilize those lessons. The salient development in Global South and businesses in Global North share interconnectedness, especially in the case of climate change sectors. Actions taken in the past and present can impact other regions and shape the future. Sustainable entrepreneurship from Africa allows us to go forward with innovation for sustainable development.   

Explore the highlights of the previous semester's Nexus Seminars

Check our website to stay updated on the upcoming Nexus Seminars!

UNU Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources
Ammonstrasse 74
Dresden, 01067

Tel: +49 351 892193 70

Designed and Developed
by Dr Serena Caucci, Zeynep Ozkul & Suhyun Ryu