The Newsletter of the AWESOME Project
AWESOME: mAnaging Water, Ecosystems and food across sectors and Scales in the sOuth Mediterranean
AWESOME (mAnaging Water, Ecosystems and food across sectors and Scales in the sOuth Mediterranean) is a four-year project funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Prima Programme. The main objective of AWESOME is developing a decision-analytic platform based on a multi-level, integrated Water, Energy, Food, Ecosystems (WEFE) modeling framework to better understand multi-sectoral WEFE tradeoffs and to capitalize on potential synergies, also exploring the interdependencies and feedbacks across a hierarchy of spatial scales, from the macroeconomic development of the Mediterranean region and national scale, to regional planning at river basin scale, down to the single farm.
Wrapping-up AWESOME's 3rd and last year
Andrea Castelletti and Elena Matta, AWESOME Coordinator and Project Manager, POLIMI
On behalf of the AWESOME consortium, we are delighted to send you this 3rd and final newsletter with many exciting updates.
The decision-analytic framework developed at the Nile River Basin scale identified and analysed a large number of Water Energy Food and Ecosystem portfolios (mix of actions), navigating synergies and trade-offs in their performance across a multidimensional assessment space where the set of evaluation indicators was co-designed with relevant stakeholders to capture the interest of local authorities and support their planning of agricultural strategies. While different combinations of aquaponics, desalination, reuse and groundwater pumping in the Nile Delta are capable of mitigating existing tradeoffs across sectors and countries, further technological improvements (and investments) are needed to attain large and robust portfolios adopting soilless agriculture and desalination.
The smart food technologies tested in the Egyptian study site proved to be winning solutions in saving water and increasing crop productivity. The expert partners in the field already communicated the lessons learned and the transfer of knowledge during the capacity building workshop held in October.
The project had the opportunity to present its achievements in the recent Policy-Science dialogue event in Milan, involving PRIMA and international experts: Giulio Boccaletti, Laura Bonzanigo, Ali Karnib, Fahad Kimera, Mohie Omar, and Kevin Wheeler. Exiting round of the table discussion on the challenging work conducted during the project and on the promising results obtained were the core of the meeting.
AWESOME was also present at several international events, including AGU, EGU and EAERE scientific congresses, but also COP27 in Sharm El Sheik, while the Horizon Results Booster collaboration with other European Nexus-focused projects brought to a joint flyer, a policy brief, and a video for dissemination purposes, highlighting the importance of multidisciplinarity and stakeholders participation.
It has been almost four years of exciting collaboration and challenging research… Our gratitude certainly goes to all researchers and practitioners who contributed to the success of the project and to all the stakeholders who offered their time, support and interest: without their efforts, the project would have not been possible.
We are proud of the AWESOME achievement and we are eager to see where future research will take us, to dive into the open questions left by the project.
AWESOME // Science-Policy Dialogue event in Milano
Ilenia Gaia Romani, researcher at FEEM and PhD candidate at Università degli Studi di Brescia
On Monday, October 23rd, 2023, the FEEM headquarters at Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan, Italy, hosted the "Science Policy Dialogue on the WEFE Nexus: Bridging Water, Energy, Food, and Ecosystems with and beyond the AWESOME project."
The event began with opening remarks from Prof. Sergio Vergalli of the hosting institution, FEEM. This was followed by an overview of the project from our project coordinator, Prof. Andrea Castelletti. Next, we heard insightful comments from Ali Rhouma, PRIMA project officer. The first back-to-back presentation was delivered by Marta Castellini (FEEM) and Ali Karnib (Lebanese University), followed by the second presentation by Ruslana Palatnik (YVC) and Demet Cekin (RWTH). The final dialogue was between Matteo Giuliani (POLIMI) and Kevin Wheeler (University of Oxford and AWESOME Advisory Board member). Finally, I had the immense pleasure of moderating a round table discussion, which brought together representatives from the academic/science community and those more closely connected to policy. Below are the profiles of the participants:
- Ebun Akinsete - Senior Researcher at ICRE8 and the Head of the Department of Stakeholder Analysis and Decision Support Systems at ICRE8 and UN SDSN Greece.
Giulio Boccaletti - Scientific Director of CMCC. His work primarily focuses on water resource management and sustainability, with an emphasis on addressing global water challenges.
Laura Bonzanigo is a Senior Water Resources Management Specialist at the World Bank. She currently leads regional and national operations in water resources management, irrigation, and multi-sectoral climate adaptation programs in the Eastern and Southern Africa region.
Matteo Giuliani is assistant professor in the Environmental Intelligence Lab at Politecnico di Milano. The primary focus of his research is the integrated management of water resources in complex engineering systems involving multiple actors and exposed to evolving multisectoral demands and global change.
Fahad Kimera – Senior Agronomist. Currently serves as a Senior Manager in Agricultural Research and an Adjunct Faculty at The American University in Cairo.
Ruslana Rachel Palatnik - Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics and Management at the Yezreel Valley College. Her primary academic interests are bioeconomy, energy economics, climate change and environmental economics.
Ali Rhouma - Mr. Rhouma is a Professor in agricultural research with 20 years of experience in the Mediterranean region. Prof. Rhouma is currently a Project Officer at PRIMA foundation.
- Kevin Wheeler - Senior Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Professional Engineer, and Principal of Water Balance Consulting.
Despite the very busy schedule, we were still able to enjoy the day, which ended up with a customized cake and collective toasts.
AWESOME // Stakeholder engagement
Lydia Stergiopoulou, Researcher, ReSEES Research Laboratory on Socio-Economic and Environmental Sustainability (AUEB)
Following the Skills Gap Assessment Survey that took place last winter with the participation of 120 professionals of the farming sector the Stakeholders’ Engagement team of AWESOME assessed the knowledge needs and gaps on soilless agriculture and organized a Capacity Building Training. 26 agricultural engineers, and financiers, investors and engineering students participated in Arabic and English and were trained on hydroponics, their market opportunities, soilless agricultural challenges, cultivation systems and their applications ensuring the maximum uptake of the technological advancements that took place in AWESOME’s demo site.
Before the Training, on the 19th June 2023 took place the Participatory Narratives Building with key stakeholders and policy makers from the River Basin level who were presented the main research results from AWESOME (a) the experiments with the soilless technology developed, b) the macro-economic modeling, c) impacts from future climate scenarios, d) population growth projections) and developed in collaboration with the project’s scientists future storylines for the state of key WEFE drivers in the context of the envisioned future in case study area.
A graphical factsheet will tell you more about the achievements related to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 2, 4, and 5.
You can check all the factsheets out on the AWESOME website!
AWESOME // Outcomes
We close this third newsletter with our results and remind you that they are available on our AWESOME website which will stay as an accessible resource to the public. The project deliverables and communication material produced are the following:
Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI), Italy
POLIMI is bringing expertise on participatory decision-making, robust adaptation measure design, and water-energy-food nexus modelling and management. POLIMI coordinates the project and leads WP1 and WP4 (meso-scale modelling).
Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB), Greece
AUEB is bringing its expertise on socio-economic modelling as well as water management modelling and providing feedback from other AUEB projects that feed into this project. AUEB is leading WP2 (macroscale modelling) and also WP6 which is stakeholder engagement and interaction.
Yezreel Valley College (YVC), Israel
YVC is bringing expertise on macro-economic modelling, water-energy-food nexus modelling, economic and policy analyses. YVC co-leads WP2 (macro scale modelling) and contributes to WP3 (meso-scale modelling), WP4 (micro-scale modelling), WP5 (stakeholder engagement and interaction) and WP6 (dissemination).
University of Haifa (UH), Israel
UH is contributing to the macro-economic assessment using their research experience on WEF Nexus topics. UH is responsible for testing the transferability and portability of the proposed solutions, via analyzing the challenges and opportunities in terms of portability of AWESOME framework results to other basins in the Mediterranean region.
Zon Gardens (ZG), Egypt
ZG is responsible for designing, developing and operating the different innovative technological solutions demonstrated at the micro-scale to produce more crop per drop, specifically a medium scale leafy Green and Red Batavia hydroponic system possibly powered by solar power technology in Egypt in WP5, for informing strategic planning at the meso (river basin) scale.
RWTH Aachen University (RWTH), Germany
RWTH Aachen with its wide experience in managing EU funded project is supporting the grant applicant in managing this project. In addition, with ZG, it is responsible for WP5, whose goal is to demonstrate the potential of new technological solutions applied at the micro-scale pilots to maximize the productivity of a unit water in terms of valuable products such as crops and fish.
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Italy
FEEM has long and well established experience in terms of scientific communication and dissemination. Hence, FEEM is leading WP7-Dissemination outreach and policy. In addition, FEEM is contributing to WP3 with the implementation of dynamic stochastic models to study the effects of uncertainty at micro and macro level.
Looking forward to knowing about the next steps?
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The AWESOME newsletter is published annually by project partners.
Editor: Ilenia Gaia RomanI
For specific questions on AWESOME:
Andrea Castelletti and Elena Matta
Department of Electronics, Information, and
Bioengineering of Politecnico di Milano
Via Ponzio 34/5, 20133 Milan, Italy