Inaugural Dresden Nexus Conference highlights Integrated approach for sustainable development

Over 350 participants from 65 countries came together to discuss nexus-oriented strategies for sustainable development at the inaugural Dresden Nexus Conference organized by UNU-FLORES, TU Dresden and IOER last month.

Dresden Nexus Conference 2015

Panel Discussion in the afternoon plenary on Day 2 of DNC2015. Copyright: UNU-FLORES.


nexus approach to the sustainable management of environmental resources integrates environmental management and governance across sectors and scales. This approach is based on the understanding that environmental resources are intricately interconnected. Considering their mutual dependencies in environmental management increases resource use efficiency while minimizing at the same time environmental risks and ecological degradation.

The Dresden Nexus Conference 2015 (DNC2015) took place under the umbrella of “Global Change, SDGs and the Nexus Approach”. Global Change, in all its forms, is possibly the most pressing challenge humanity faces in the twenty-first century. To address this challenge, the international community has devoted much time and effort into developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to be adopted later this year.

Focusing on three key dimensions of global change – climate change, urbanization and population growth – conference attendees discussed how adopting a nexus approach can help develop effective and appropriate strategies for implementing these goals. Both the presenters in the parallel sessions and the keynote speakers were in consensus on one point: applying a nexus approach is the key to identifying effective and appropriate mechanisms for achieving the SDGs.

Shija Kazumba (Representing Tanzania) and Zongha Park (Representing the Republic of Korea)

Left to Right: Shija Kazumba (Representing Tanzania) and Zongha Park (Representing the Republic of Korea). Copyright: UNU-FLORES.


A further conclusion of the conference is the central role of the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus in achieving sustainable development and global security, particularly with regard to the pressing challenges posed by the ever-growing global population.

“The train that is going to bring us a total global Advancing a nexus approach to the sustainable management of environmental resources 2 population of 9.6 billion people by 2050 has already left the station. We cannot stop it. Our task is to be prepared to receive these guests,” Professor Rattan Lal, Chair of UNU-FLORES Advisory Committee and Professor at Ohio State University, emphasized in the conference wrap-up talk. Soil, in particular, plays a critical role in ensuring the means of existence for all global citizens. Maintaining the integrity of soil, but also exploring soil-less or less soil-intensive means of agriculture will be crucial.

Finally, organizers, stakeholders and participants alike agreed that it is time to translate collective knowledge and collective goodwill into action. And the first and most significant step in implementing these findings is to develop educational curriculum that applies and promotes integrated thinking. Educational programmes need to be executed in an integrated, cross- and transdisciplinary manner, and at the same time teach critical integrated thinking.

The Dresden Nexus Conference is planned to be held every two years. It is envisioned as a platform that brings together experts from national and international academia, politics and civil society, to discuss and promote academic and practical initiatives advancing a nexus approach to the sustainable management of environmental resources. By bringing these stakeholders together, the organizers hope to identify and further develop policy-relevant solutions. 

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