The Moveable NEXUS: Design-led Sustainable Water, Food and Energy Management within the New Boundary

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch of Natural and Built Environment

Abstract

Urban communities are particularly vulnerable to the future demand of food, water and energy, and this is further acerbated by the onset of climate change. A solution needs to be found for a FEW nexus. This internationally diverse project, based around urban design practice, sees urban agriculture (and localised energy production) as a key facilitator of the Nexus, needing water and energy to become productive. Working directly with living labs in some of the most vulnerable communities in the partner cities (Tokyo, Belfast, Amsterdam, Dohar, Detroit and Sydney), the team aims to co-design new food futures with stakeholders that leave them less vulnerable to forces disturbing the nexus. The lessons learned from these stakeholder workshops will be shared outside the team, so that lessons learned locally can be applied globally.

This project will develop innovative and practical design solutions through stakeholder-engaged living labs in six different bioregions around the world to translate current FEW-nexus research towards implementation. Through this effort, three integrated knowledge platforms on Design, Evaluation and Participation capture inter-disciplinary approaches to feed into participatory workshops, and thereby to the moveable nexus (M-NEX). The outputs and lessons learned will be publically disseminated via the open M-NEX platform. The first four international workshops investigate holistic themes (technology, people, geography and climate), which will then be integrated in the final two workshops on multiple-scales (from buildings to city level).

The production and consumption of healthy food is ensured by addressing future climate change impacts and demographic and cultural changes, spanning scales from a single rooftop to an entire metropolitan region. The design outputs are the cornerstones of the entire field of possible solutions and are used to inspire individuals to undertake informed actions using the M-NEX platform. The decision support platform at the local governments level will be a powerful tool for integrating nexus thinking in FEW management.

Planned Impact

The M-NEX is designed to have a tremendous impact on a variety of scales, stakeholders and locations. The decision-making tool and platform are developed through intense community-based projects in 6 locations around the world. The research team visits each location to collaborate with the local stakeholders in urban living labs to address and formulate a strategy to tackle local FEW-problems. This approach ensures an applicable strategy that provides value for the local academic community, citizens, end users and commercial parties. The outcomes of each location are analysed and combined into the tool and platform, ensuring that outcomes of this project are transferable and an international impact can be guaranteed.
Academic Impact: The workshops, however, rely heavily on local students. The student community is engaged by actively involving numerous students in the gathering and analysis of data, as well as the design sessions. Their participation can generate a great number of outcomes to learn from, compare and match. This not only gives the students the opportunity to work with renowned experts and local communities on the real challenges of their own surroundings, but also enhances the knowledgebase of the project as a whole. The validity of the final decision-making tool and platform is closely linked to this broad knowledgebase. The M-NEX contributes to the existing body of knowledge by gathering, analysing and processing data from disparate locations, scales and settings. The M-NEX platform can form a starting point for new academic research into the development of FEW resilient cities of the future.

Societal Impact: Each workshop will be organised in cooperation with the local municipality, local stakeholders and the local community.In some cities this will be done by the involvement of value platforms, such as AMS Institute in Amsterdam. So the workshops will involve the citizens of each region, as well as representatives of the public and private sector, aiming at support of the city in question. These workshops reveal the potential of the region and offer a site specific and problem specific solution for the people in the area. This approach can create citizen awareness of the local FEW challenges and inspire a demand for sustainable development, which creates new opportunities for governmental, non-governmental and commercial parties.

Economic Impact: M-NEX strives to connect with local innovative teams, consisting of governmental and commercial parties, by collaborating with existing living labs. These living labs give quick access to an expansive network of companies, which can highlight the most pressing local issues and potential solutions. This collaborative approach allows for a focused and practical FEW-strategy that translates to an easier implementation, market uptake, and increased creation of market value. The UK bid engages directly with Urban design practice, this link with research will develop new expertise that will give market.

Global Impact: The global impact is implicit due to the international spread of the partners, However the impact also stretches beyond our partners, however, as the integration of FEW-strategies in the built environment can provide new insights in sustainable development of integrated buildings and landscapes in FEW resilient cities. The final M-NEX platform can benefit municipalities, urban planners, developers, architects, building and agricultural engineers, et cetera. Entire regions can be enabled to consciously work towards becoming resilient in the widest sense - technical, spatial, social. The project addresses eight of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, namely: clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, industry innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life on land and partnerships. The M-NEX can create value in one or more SDGs wherever it lands,

Publications

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Title Initial strategy plan for East Belfast 
Description Stakeholders developed a series of imaginings of future productive Belfast, that started a discussion about the timescales and forms of redevelopment of the city, considering the production of food within the city. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact The strategies have been used by the project to develop more fully the next engagements with the stakeholder group. More specifically, these designs have created the context for the second Belfast meeting of local stakekholders, and also for the second international meeting in Qatar in February 2019. 
 
Description We are developing a living lab which includes a range of stakeholders from NGOs and Governance organisations. The modelling and visualisation of food consumption and associated carbon emissions is being used to frame discussions with communities.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Energy
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Living Lab Belfast 
Organisation Belfast City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The project is setting up a living lab in East Belfast. This involves working with a group of governance and funding stakeholders to develop long-term strategies for developing productive urban solutions to the Food Energy water nexus.
Collaborator Contribution The City and East Belfast, have offered time and personnel to the project. EBP have supplied useful on ground information about the complex context
Impact This is in an early stage at present. It is a complex multi and inter-disciplinary project with a wide range of stakeholders. The key links are between architecture and Urban design practice and governance bodies.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Living Lab Belfast 
Organisation East Belfast Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project is setting up a living lab in East Belfast. This involves working with a group of governance and funding stakeholders to develop long-term strategies for developing productive urban solutions to the Food Energy water nexus.
Collaborator Contribution The City and East Belfast, have offered time and personnel to the project. EBP have supplied useful on ground information about the complex context
Impact This is in an early stage at present. It is a complex multi and inter-disciplinary project with a wide range of stakeholders. The key links are between architecture and Urban design practice and governance bodies.
Start Year 2018
 
Description First Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was the first international workshop the project, held in Belfast in Nov 2018. All international partners were present at the week-long workshop.

As part of the workshop there were two days of interaction with local stakeholders including Belfast City Council, Belfast Food Network, The Association of Community Farms and Gardens amongst others.

A group of Post-graduate Architecture students from Queens (20 no) were part of a design exercise with the stakeholders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018