Implementation of the UNFCCC Paris agreement on climate change gets more attention from European national governments than the multi-sectoral Sustainable Development Goals. This unilateral focus may cause unwanted trade-offs. A nexus approach could be the answer.
Implementation of EU policies may cause conflicts in the region
For the European project SIM4NEXUS, ten cases investigated the translation of global and European policies for water, land, energy, food and climate (WLEFC), into national and regional policies. They found that most global and European WLEFC policies have been integrated into lower level policies, but several factors may hinder implementation in practice. Measures taken at lower administrative level may be insufficient to reach the goals at higher level or the other way around, policies at lower level may have more ambitious goals and therefore find little support in policies at higher scale.
All cases investigated energy and climate policies, but only one explicitly addressed the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. This reflects the priority currently put on combatting climate change by the EU and national governments, which may cause trade-offs in the WLEFC nexus. For example, subsidised growth of bio-energy crops has changed the agricultural landscape and water cycle, causing heat and drought in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Regions reflect policy coherence issues at EU level
Synergies, ambiguities and conflicts between WLEFC policies observed at EU level were also encountered in the national and regional cases. More synergies than conflicts were found between policy objectives for different sectors, but stakeholders mentioned conflicting interests during implementation. Examples are competing claims on water and land, ambiguous effects of expanding agriculture, biomass production and hydropower, and failure to implement environmental and landscape objectives.
Nexus approach requires cross-sectoral commitment and shared perspectives
The cases investigated cross-sectoral cooperation between stakeholders during policy making and implementation. Shared goals, perspectives and interests, as well as commitment and trust were enabling factors for success. Profound attention must be paid to these conditions in a nexus approach, as they cannot be taken for granted in inter‐sectoral situations.
Deliverable D2.2 Nexus-relevant policies at national and regional scale was separated into a main report and a background report. The main report is published on this web page. You can find the background report with the descriptions of the ten case studies on the SIM4NEXUS website.