How can we face WEFE interdependency in irrigated agriculture and its implications for food security and nature preservation?


Key reasons to attend this course

Gain deep insights into the complex challenges surrounding the WEFE nexus in Mediterranean irrigated agriculture, and its implications for food security and nature preservation
Understand the nature and complexities of the trade-offs between WEFE components in a changing environment
Analyse the energy implications of changes in water use in irrigated agriculture, and apply sustainability criteria to optimize water and energy requirements in irrigation system design and management
Know how to optimize the use of grid energy and renewable sources for irrigation pumping requirements
Develop policy and governance approaches for the WEFE nexus, leading to sustainable, resilient solutions, pursuing Sustainable Development Goals and promoting early stakeholder involvement
Apply sustainability assessments and WEFE nexus simulations, considering a wide array of technical, economic, policy and environmental issues
Improve your skills in the use of modelling tools and benefit from experiences gained through case studies, interaction with lecturers and course participants, and a technical field visit


Almulla, Youssef - KTH, Stockholm (Sweden)
Battilani, Adriano - ANBI, Bologna (Italy)
Bidoglio, Giovanni - JRC, Ispra (Italy)
Castañeda, Carmen - EEAD-CSIC, Zaragoza (Spain)
Fernandez, Alberto - WWF, Madrid (Spain)
Isidoro, Daniel - UNIZAR, Teruel (Spain)
La Jeunesse, Isabelle - UFR, Tours (France)
Karnib, Ali - Lebanese University, Beirut (Lebanon)
Lago, Manuel - Ecologic Institute EU, Berlin (Germany)
López Günn, Elena - ICATALIST, Madrid (Spain)
Moreno, Miguel Ángel - UCLM, Albacete (Spain)
Nardi, Fernando - Univ. Perugia (Italy)
Playan, Enrique - EEAD-CSIC, Zaragoza (Spain)
Rhouma, Ali - PRIMA Foundation, Barcelona (Spain)
Zapata, Nery - EEAD-CSIC, Zaragoza (Spain)

Applied approach
(lectures, practical work, debate and technical visit)

15 Leading international experts

Course in English and Spanish with simultaneous interpretation

Hybrid modality course


  • 0. Opening session and presentation of the course (1 hour)
  • 1. Framing the WEFE nexus in Mediterranean irrigated agriculture (5 hours)
    • 1.1. The challenging interdependency between Water, Energy, Food and the Ecosystem (WEFE) in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals
    • 1.2. WEFE nexus implementation under climate change: from silo thinking to cross-sectoral risk & benefit sharing
    • 1.3. Discussion of the situation of the WEFE nexus in participant’s countries
    • 1.4. Case study – Irrigated agriculture under severe stress: the views of an environmental NGO
    • 1.5. Case study – Irrigated agriculture under severe stress: view of a scientist’s and a practitioner’s country
  • 2. Deploying innovative technological solutions (10 hours)
    • 2.1. Regulated deficit and low-pressure irrigation to reduce the water and energy dependence of Mediterranean irrigated agriculture
    • 2.2. Alternative water resources for Mediterranean agriculture: quality and energy requirements
    • 2.3. Software, modelling and decision-making tools for building and managing nexus-ready irrigation systems
    • 2.4. Making the most of renewable and grid energy for irrigation pumping requirements
    • 2.5. Optimizing nitrogen input and using monitoring networks to reduce nitrate water pollution in irrigated areas
    • 2.6. Exploratory solutions and trade-offs for the complex relationship between wetlands and irrigated agriculture
    • 2.7. Case study – Implementing transdisciplinary WEFE nexus and stakeholder engagement for sustainable resource allocation in the Val di Cornia, Italy
    • 2.8. Case study – “Piano Laghetti”: interconnected small nature based solutions providing ecosystem services, water storage and energy generation
    • 2.9. Practical session: Implementing the nexus in a solid-set irrigated farm using electricity for pumping in a vulnerable area for nitrate pollution
  • 3. Developing policy and governance approaches (9 hours)
    • 3.1. The nexus policy framework: EU and non-EU policies and strategies, institutional coordination challenges and barriers, and a nexus approach to coordinated WEFE policy development
    • 3.2. Innovative nexus governance approaches: institutional aspects illustrated by case studies in the Mediterranean
    • 3.3. Case study – The North-Western Sahara Aquifer System: options for nexus policies in a transboundary situation
    • 3.4. Case study – River contracts in Italy: a policy instrument implemented by water users associations to control nitrate pollution
    • 3.5. Practical session – Nexus game: exploring the nexus solutions tool for optimizing multi-scale energy-water-land system transformations
  • 4. Performing sustainability assessments and nexus trade-off analyses (8 hours)
    • 4.1. Assessing WEFE trade-offs across different scales; translating findings into decision support
    • 4.2. Sustainability assessment: ecological footprinting and life cycle analysis (LCA)
    • 4.3. Ecosystem services accounting
    • 4.4. Practical session – Nexus modelling of irrigated agriculture in Greece based on systems thinking and dynamics
    • 4.5. Case study – Application of the Q-Nexus Web Tool for resilient Mediterranean irrigated agriculture
    • 4.6. Practical session – Life Cycle Analysis for resilient Mediterranean irrigated agriculture
  • 5. Round table (2 hours)
    • “Implementing the WEFE nexus in Mediterranean Water Users Associations: constraints, challenges and expected benefits”
  • 6. Technical visit to the Monegros area (6 hours): irrigated area of 125,000 ha using water resources from reservoirs in the Pyrenees mountains. The main WEFE traits of this irrigated area will be presented: water scarcity, production of renewable energies, energy consumption for pumping, production of agricultural commodities and food, water pollution control and irrigation modernization. Successes and complex challenges in Nexus implementation.

Train at an outstanding international institution


The course is designed for participants with a university degree and is aimed at professionals from public or private organizations, such as decision-makers, technical advisors, agronomists, environmentalists, engineers and R&D specialists, dealing with or interested in the WEFE nexus challenges as applied to Mediterranean irrigation planning and management.

  • 25 places will be available for face-to-face participation (lectures, practical work, debate and technical visit).
  • 25 places will be available for online participation (lectures and debate).

Knowledge of English, Spanish and French will be valued in the selection of candidates.

The programme will be delivered in English and Spanish with simultaneous interpretation in these two languages. The Organization will provide interpretation into French if needed.

  • Candidates may apply online at the following address:
  • Applications must include the curriculum vitae and a copy of the supporting documents most related to the subject of the course.
  • The deadline for the submission of applications is 31st August 2023.
  • Applications from candidates requiring authorization to attend the course may be accepted provisionally.
  • Registration fees for the course amount to 500 euro for face-to-face participation and 350 euro for online participation. This sum covers tuition fees only.
  • Candidates from Mediterranean CIHEAM member countries and from ICARDA Middle East and North Africa partners, may apply during the registration process for scholarships covering registration fees and for scholarships covering the cost of travel and full board accommodation in Zaragoza.
  • Candidates from other countries who require financial support should apply directly to other national or international institutions.

It is compulsory for participants in face-to-face modality to have medical insurance valid for Spain. Proof of insurance cover must be given at the beginning of the course. Those who so wish may participate in a collective insurance policy taken out by the Organization, upon payment of the stipulated sum.

CIHEAM Zaragoza

Av. Montañana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain

+34 976716000

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