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Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Sustainable Development Goals: The grand challenges for the Indus Basin


SG 1: Reducing Climate and Environmental Risks & Action Area A: Managing Cryosphere and Water Risk


Marriot Hotel, Islamabad, Pakistan

Date & Time

06 July 2023 to 07 July 2023

About the event

This workshop is being organised to unveil a set of grand challenges for the Indus Basin formulated by the SustainIndus Research Consortium.

2023 is the last year for the SustainIndus project and this final workshop is the project’s last opportunity for sharing and disseminating their work with academics, practitioners, and policy makers in the region, and receive feedback on the project results. As a result of the project, a set of ‘Grand challenges’ for the Indus Basin have been formulated.

The organisers will be capturing the reflections of policy makers and practitioners working on food security, energy security, water management, water-energy-food nexus, and the SDGs.



The workshop is designed as a science-policy dialogue consisting of two days. Day 1 is focused on scientific research, whereas day 2 is focused on implications for policy. The specific objectives are:

  • Share the progress and key findings of the research work with the basin’s stakeholders
  • Communicate the project outcomes to stakeholders for potential integration into relevant government policies and strategies for scalability and sustainability
  • Jointly with stakeholders define the Indus Basin’s grand Water-Food-Energy Nexus challenges as final project outcomes



The SustainIndus research consortium was formed in 2019 as a research partnership of Utrecht University, Wageningen University & Research, ICIMOD, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), and Climate Adaptation Services. The project is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), Utrecht University, and Wageningen University & Research.

The SustainIndus project set out with the aim to develop sustainable pathways that support decision makers and practitioners to develop science-based policy and climate-smart solutions to provide food (SDG 2: Zero hunger), water (SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation) and energy (SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy) in the Indus Basin.

To this end, its objectives are to: (i) establish how the water-food-energy supply and demand may evolve in the future and translate global SDGs into quantifiable Indus Basin Development Goals (IDGs), (ii) develop, test and assess climate-smart technologies to conserve or generate energy and optimise water use and food production and to quantify potential for basin wide upscaling, (iii) quantify the synergies and trade-offs between water, food and energy related to IDGs, and (iv) develop sustainable pathways consisting of optimal mixes of adaptation measures aimed at reaching the IDGs in a changing climate.



Science day

Time (PST) Topic Presenter
09:15–09:20 Tilawat
09:20–09.30 Welcome remarks Shahid Maqsood Gill, Member, Natural Resource Division, PARC

Arun Bhakta Shrestha, Strategic Group Lead, Reducing Climate and Environmental Risks, ICIMOD

09:30–9:35 Opening remarks Arun Bhakta Shrestha, ICIMOD
09:35–9:45 Keynote address Gulam Muhammad Ali, Chairman, PARC
9:45–10:00 SustainIndus project overview Arthur Lutz, Researcher, Utrecht University
10:00–10:15 TBC Ayesha Khan, Head, Mountain and Glacier Protection Organization, Pakistan
10:15–10:45 Address by chief guest Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives (TBC)
10:45–11:00 Tea break
11:00–11:30 Grand challenges Arthur Lutz, Utrecht University
11:30–12:30 Knowledge Café I: Exploring scientific gaps to the grand challenges

  • Do stakeholders agree/disagree on the challenges listed? Would they add/remove some?
  • What do stakeholders consider scientific gaps to solving the grand challenges?
Facilitators: SustainIndus Team
12:30–13:30 Lunch break
13:30–14:00 Briefing on the Grand challenges and Q&A Moderator: Table leads and Arun Bhakta Shrestha, ICIMOD
Presentations of scientific results
14:00–14:20 Future challenges for the Indus food system Khalid Jamil and Wouter Julius Smolenaars, Researchers, Wageningen University & Research
14:20–14:40 The future of hydropower in the Indus Basin Sanita Dhaubanjar, PhD Fellow, Action Area A: Managing Cryosphere and Water Risk, ICIMOD
14:40–15:00 Translating Sustainable Development Goals to Indus Development Goals Arthur Lutz, Utrecht University
15:00–16:00 Social hour and tea break
16:00 Closing day 1 Arun Shrestha, ICIMOD and Bashir Ahmad, Director, Climate Energy, Water Research Institute, NARC/PARC

Policy day

Time (PST) Topic Presenter
09:30–09:35 Tilawat
09:35–09:45 Welcome remarks Bashir Ahmad, Director, NARC/PARC
09:45–09:55 Overview of the SustainIndus project and Grand challenges Arthur Lutz, Utrecht University
09:55–10:10 Summarising the Knowledge Café and scientific Results from day one Facilitators: Arun Bhakta Shrestha, ICIMOD
10:10–10:45 Tea break
10:45–12:00 Panel discussion

Grand challenges for the Indus Basin: Adaptation and policy


Sajjad Haider, Secretary Development Ministry of Energy

Mohsin Hafeez, Country Representative, IWMI, Pakistan

Nadia Rehman, Member Food Security and Climate Change, Planning Commission, Pakistan

Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources

Moderator: Arun Bhakta Shrestha, ICIMOD


12:00–12:25 Question and answers
12:25–12:30 Closing remarks Gulam Muhmammad Ali, PARC
12:30 Lunch