Implementing the 2030 Agenda for UN Sustainable Development requires an improved understanding of the interdependencies among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the design of coherent water governance practices and policies across different levels and sectors.

Numerous approaches and practices exist to govern sustainably water. It is, however, unclear, which of these approaches have proven to be effective in maintaining socio-economic advancement and/or restoring environmentally sustainable water resources in a cross-sectoral setting.

W.E.F.E NEXUS approach

The Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus has emerged over the past decade as a promising concept to optimise trade-offs and increase synergies in promoting goals of sustainable and resilient water.

The word NEXUS refers to “a connection or series of connections linking two or more things” (Oxford Dictionary,2022). Water, energy and food are interconnected, comprising a system (the “nexus”) characterized by complexity and inter-connectedness that is further augmented by the indirect role of ecosystem services.

RETOUCH Nexus will contribute to generating both conceptual advances and robust empirical evidence on monitoring and evaluating existing governance schemes and practices at the EU level using the Nexus approach.

Objectives and approach

Building upon the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus, RETOUCH NEXUS aims to design and advance integrated, innovative, and inclusive Nexus-smart water governance schemes and institutional settings aiming at a secure water future in the EU, resilient to climate change.

Following an evidence-based approach, RETOUCH NEXUS will propose, assess and optimise Nexus-smart methods addressing 5 innovative dimensions of water governance using the WEFE Nexus approach*:

Monitor water governance* by providing a set of Nexus-smart indicators that reflect multi-actor* and cross-sectoral* interactions

Present and advocate more integrated*, Nexus-based, climate-resilient water governance systems.

Design economically and financially sustainable cross-sectoral, multi-level* Nexus-based water systems

Promote and implement more transparent and inclusive water governance through innovative engagement mechanisms*

Endorse upscalable and desirable Nexus-based water governance practices and institutional settings*

Expected results & outcomes


water governance metrics

Support global policy implementation
Support the implementation of the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals, notably SDG 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.


water governance schemes (min.)

Secure water through policies

Improve policy implementation for securing sustainable water use across sectors, while ensuring transparency and inclusiveness.

Support coordination between instruments
Support coordination between water policies and other relevant policies and coordination of planning measures across relevant EU and national instruments for sustainable water use.

Develop and test


Link water to the economic and social sectors

Help to link water management to the economic and social development sectors.

Help society to implement measures for sustainable water
Help society to implement through governance, the technological, economic, political, and social measures that will set a course toward the achievement of a desirable, more sustainable and secure water future.



Empower citizens to influence water governance decisions.
Empower citizens by increasing their motivation and capacity to influence effective water governance decisions.