TADJIKISTAN, DUSHANBE – Members of the Network of Academic Societies (NAS) and representatives of scientific institutes in Central Asia discussed opportunities for joint intersectoral research and initiatives to integrate the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystem Nexus (WEFE Nexus) approach into education programs in universities through training modules and interactive Nexus simulation. The two-day discussions were organized by the USAID Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment Activity in cooperation with the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia (CAREC) within the framework of the SDC Blue Peace in Central Asia project and the EU-funded project “Nexus Dialogue in Central Asia”.
The reality of today’s developing society doesn’t limit the tasks of the academic community to the development and preservation of basic science but also involves active comprehension, dissemination, and practical application of new knowledge. At the same time, the activity of professors does not only include educating future professionals, and technical and social staff, but also participation in the creation and implementation of innovative projects.
Research institutes of Central Asia are a key link in strengthening academic research in the region and providing the basis for the development of scientific knowledge, human resource capacity, promotion of research products, as well as the development of materials for educational development. Nevertheless, the cooperation between different scientific institutes of Central Asian countries is still weak, there are only scattered joint projects and research works.
Upon the results of the meeting, more than 25 NAS members, representatives of Central Asian universities, committed to introducing the Water–Energy–Food–Environment (WEFE) Nexus into their curricula and strengthening regional collaboration. Representatives of Academies of Public Administration and leading universities that train future WEF specialists in Central Asian countries declared the importance of experience on studying and applying interactive Nexus simulation (Nexus Game) in combination with educational modules and practical cases.
Alisher Saidmukhtarov, representative of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Tajikistan, noted that the WEFE Nexus presents tremendous potential for the region’s development, emphasizing that the Nexus and practical studies of its implementation should be included in the curricula of Tajikistan’s universities.
Network members identified key needs and areas for collaborative activities, and outlined next steps for the coming year, highlighting the need to engage in development and implementation of joint research projects in priority research areas in order to promote WEFE Nexus approach.
High interest in joint regional research initiatives was supported by scientific and research institutes in Central Asian countries, who identified mechanisms for cooperation and exchange of information and data with each other. Given that interaction between science and practice is a major challenge for the development of modern science, representatives of academia and scientific institutions supported the idea of creating a Community of Practice, which could potentially serve as a communication and outreach platform to bring together scientists, policy makers, and other stakeholders.
The second phase (2020-2023) of the European Union project "Central Asian Dialogue to Promote Sectoral Financing through the Water-Energy-Food Nexus" is a continuation of the first phase (2016-2019) and is being implemented by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC). The project’s duration: June 2020 – May 2023; total budget: EUR 1.25 million with the EU’s contribution of EUR 1 million. The project is a part of the global Nexus Dialogue Programme, which is supported by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in five regions.