On March 31th, 2023, the BONEX project held its first workshop WEFE nexus in Portugal throught participatory system dynamics modelling. The workshop was made at Beja at the Agricultural Cooperative Vidigueira, a wine cooperative with a great tradition in the Baixo Alentejo region (Portuga).
The event was attended by agricultural associations, private sector companies and government agencies, as farmers, professionals in the water, energy, food, and environment sectors, agricultural engineers, researchers, and politicians . The objective of the workshop was to articulate stakeholder perceptions by focusing on the interactions between the dimensions of the WEFE nexus. Thus, were identified the problems, causes, consequences and main solutions of the WEFE nexus in the Alentejo region.
The workshop began with a presentation of the BONEX project and the main results found in this first phase. Then, the Nature-Based Solutions were presented as a measure to support farmers to maintain biodiversity and be protected against climate change without losing profitability in their productions. This was followed by the participatory session, where the Causal Loop Diagrams were drawn, which were applied as a visual diagramming approach, and was very useful to describe the behavior of the system, analyzing the cause-effect relationships between problems, causes and consequences within the system. To conclude the workshop, participants were introduced to the term Ecosystem Services, which opened the discussion to the benefits provided by nature in the region. Some conclusions and expected next steps for BONEX were also provided.
The main issues discussed at the workshop were conflict the land use energy with other land uses, declined the agrosilvopastoral system. The loss of this traditional and significant ecosystem in the landscape of the Alentejo, means an ecosystemic imbalance. Also, climate change is one of the causes of water availability, which in turn permits agricultural production. In relation to food, the agricultural system presented in the case study is characterized by the increase of an intensive model and irrigated areas, which may increase energy needs. Moreover, this type of cultivation directly degrades the soil and water quality, and means that fewer people work in the field, so the generational replacement is also affected. Some solutions were devated as protection of natural areas, promotion of agroecological practices, and clearing of riparian vegetation.
Numerous key stakeholders expressed gratitude for their involvement in the BONEX project and expressed excitement about future workshops that unite different WEFE experts.