How do power relations between different economic sectors and actors influence the drive towards integrated sustainable policies? On September 13 2023, the Horizon 2020 REXUS project organized a workshop in Madrid to conduct a Political Economy Analysis on the factors actors and processes underpinning the decision-making process in Spain in the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems (WEFE) sectors.
The participatory workshop was organised in the frame of the REXUS project Peninsular Spain/ Júcar river basin pilot, and brought together 18 stakeholders from varied institutional levels, across many different sectors. This included the Ministry of Agriculture, Members of the National Water Authority, farmers’ associations, water utilities, renewable energy companies, academia, and NGOs, among others.
The workshop took steps towards developing a roadmap to overcome existing barriers and accelerate the adoption of WEFE Nexus proposed solutions. It first developed a diagnosis of how decisions are made and by whom at national and sector levels, also addressing the power asymmetries between sectors and actors. Based on this diagnosis, discussion then moved to developing a roadmap to identify leverage points that can help accelerate the EU Green Deal agenda at the Spanish national level, particularly across the WEFE sectors.
Some of the interesting views expressed at the meeting:
“The energy transition is on its way and there is no doubt it will take place, but the key question is how much more we are going to delay its full implementation. There is resistance from some elites to accelerate the transition, and any further delay will have massive implications.”
“There is a strong interest from powerful actors across sectors to maintain the status quo. Transitions always entail reconfigurations of power, and it will mean new winners and losers.”
“There is ample room for speeding up the implementation of the green deal in Spain, but it will also entail trade-offs across sectors, and it is likely that there will not be a win-win situation across all sectors and levels.”
The workshop was led by iCATALIST, the REXUS partner leading the Work package on Learning and Action Alliances, in collaboration with Agrisat, who coordinates the REXUS pilots implementation, and hosted by the Water Observatory of the Botin Foundation.