As a follow-up to our kick-off workshop on “Advancing a Nexus Approach to the Sustainable Management of Water, Soil and Waste”, the first of the biyearly Dresden Nexus conferences (DNC) takes place from 25-27 March 2015. The DNC 2015 will assemble UN organizations, UNU institutes, member states, German ministries, national and international organizations as well as individual researchers and NGOs from around the world under the theme “Global Change, Sustainable Development Goals and the Nexus Approach”.

The nexus approach to the sustainable management of water, soil and waste integrates environmental management and governance across sectors and scales. This approach is based on the understanding that environmental resources are inextricably intertwined. Considering their mutual dependencies in environmental management may therefore increase overall resource efficiency, and ensure equitable benefit sharing. In addition, reducing the use of resources, recycling of resources and reuse of resources is at the core of the nexus approach. Taking a nexus approach for environmental resources may help to decrease environmental risks and ecological scarcities under conditions of global change as well as to ensure economic development.

Humans’ impact on the planet is altering the flow of energy, matter and water. These man-made perturbations impair ecosystems and diminish their capacity to deliver ecological goods and services. As a result of environmental degradation, food and water insecurity are already increasing in many parts of the world. These insecurities will be further aggravated by global demographic (e.g. population growth), climate changes and increasing urbanization. Population growth and urbanization increases the demand for crops, forest products, water, energy and minerals. As a consequence of such developments, land cover is changing worldwide: Primary forests, grassland, wetlands and deserts are being converted to arable land, plantations, and human settlements and infrastructure. Land cover changes are often associated with degradation of soil and water resources, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and pollution. The increased demand for natural resources is thus one of the major drivers for global environmental change.

The impact of global change on the environment as well as the services provided by ecosystems and how to cope with these impacts needs to be considered in the ongoing debate on sustainable development goals beyond 2015. Facing global change, the development of a post-2015 agenda not only has to include goals and targets but also measures and approaches which pave the way for reducing poverty in a truly sustainable manner.

The 2015 Dresden Nexus Conference will focus on the contributions of a nexus approach to the management of water, soil and waste, and will specifically address the following questions:

  1. How can environmental resources such as water and soil be maintained and enhanced under the conditions of global change?
  2. How can a more efficient and sustainable use of the resources water, soil and waste be facilitated given the limited resources availability and environmental decline?
  3. How can international development partners be engaged for the promotion of research, capacity development and implementation of a nexus approach which would be instrumental to achieving the SDGs?
  4. How can a transition towards a green economy be facilitated, especially with regard to agriculture, considering the intricate linkage of soil, water and waste management?