SUGI strengthens international research cooperation and policy relations

SUGI is an international research cooperation initiative that aims to bring together the fragmented research and expertise across the globe to find innovative new solutions to the Food-Water-Energy Nexus challenge and rapidly evolve the knowledge base, advance indicators and assessment tools that are needed for a comprehensive understanding of the FWE nexus.

SUGI is the first call JPI Urban Europe has issued outside Europe and is a first step towards opening up JPI Urban Europe as a platform for research and innovation cooperation beyond Europe. The initiative offers an opportunity for funding agencies, policy makers and research and innovation actors totackle the challenge of urban transitions to develop connections and collaborations beyond Europe. The European Commission has been actively supporting the SUGI initiative from the very beginning in 2016 and provides a top-up of an additional 30 % funding in addition to the funds provided by the countries involved.

Margit Noll, Chair of JPI Urban Europe’s Management Board and Erica Key, Executive Director of the Belmont Forum Secretariat talk about their expectations on the initiative and the outcomes of the projects.

Interview with Margit Noll, Chair of JPI Urban Europe’s Management Board

This is the first time that JPI Urban Europe has organized a call outside of Europe. Can you tell us a bit about your expectations on the outcomes from the initiative as such and the funded projects?
– The SUGI call was our first international call and I am proud that 15 new, truly international projects are joining our programme. Sustainable urbanisation is a global challenge and we can only benefit from an urban research and innovation community that reflects the plurality of urban dynamics. We expect that widening our network of urban researchers and practitioners, creating and testing new concepts and solutions against different urban settings will contribute to urban transitions across the globe.

Can you tell us a bit about JPI Urban Europe’s internationalisation strategy?
– We also hope that this international cooperation is the first step towards establishing long-term partnerships with the involved funding agencies. In line with this approach we are going to launch a joint call of JPI Urban Europe partners and NSFC in China and through such measures gradually building international relationships. But for now, let’s welcome the new projects in our JPI Urban Europe family! 


Interview with Erica Key, Executive Director of the Belmont Forum Secretariat 

Can you describe the challenges so far setting up an international call connecting researchers and practitioners across the globe?
– In the Belmont Forum, we pose this unifying activity as more of an opportunity than a challenge.  The complexity of the Nexus approach really spans a breadth of knowledge.  As a researcher or a practitioner working in the food-water-energy nexus – with the potential for real world application – I would want to draw on the most expertise and the best practical knowledge to ensure that the outcomes are well considered and meeting actual needs.  I’m very excited about how this opportunity will unite sectors, governance levels, implementers, and cultures around a theme critical to us all.

Can you tell us a bit about your expectations on the outcomes from the initiative as such and the funded projects?
– As with all Belmont Forum projects, we are looking for outcomes that are truly transdisciplinary, working closely with stakeholders at every step of the process.  In the area of food-water-energy nexus, the list of potential stakeholders is long with reach into industry, public services, engineers, distribution systems, multi-level governance, and systems management, among others.  This connectivity provides an opportunity for nexus outcomes to be adopted and implemented and have a legacy far beyond the initial project years.  I don’t have a specific expectation, but I’m looking forward to what the creativity and collaboration will bring now and in the future.

Why is international research cooperation so important? What does the Food-Water-Energy Nexus Approach stand for?
– Food, water, and energy systems often transcend national boundaries.  To understand the supply chain dynamics of these systems, one must also understand the potential influences at the source and along the distribution path.  Environmental, trade, cultural, and political changes at remote locations can have a large impact on the local availability of food, water, and energy.  Enabling researchers and stakeholders along that path to share knowledge and co-develop solutions increases the potential for successful outcomes.

Why is it so important to bring European, American, Asian and African researchers together to find future solutions to food-water and energy challenges in cities?
– Global population growth and the expansion of cities in this interconnected world makes such collaboration necessary.  Increasing demands for food, water, and energy often exceed the capabilities of any one region.  Bringing knowledge holders together from across the continents allows for sharing lessons learned and best practices and highlights what is scalable and what is region-specific.  The interaction also grows an awareness of near-term and expected challenges that will require international cooperation to overcome.  Such transparency and discussion now could potentially circumvent some of the Nexus pitfalls in the future.  So, again, as I see it, it’s an opportunity.




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