The project “Creating Interfaces” addresses capacity building for the urban food-water-energy (FWE) -nexus, making the FWE-linkages understandable to the stakeholders (city government, science, business and citizens), and facilitating cooperation and knowledge exchange among them. It will develop and test innovative approaches for local knowledge co-creation and participation through Urban Living Labs and Citizen Science approaches in three mid-size cities on water: Tulcea (Romania), Wilmington (USA) and Slupsk (Poland). Complemented by previous research and a citizen science toolbox, these labs comprise a user-defined co-creative approach, where research questions, problems, and solutions are decided and implemented with stakeholders themselves.

world map - cities


• Capacity building for the urban food-water-energy (FWE) nexus, creation of science-citizen-policy interfaces.
• Fostering knowledge exchange and cooperation among local stakeholders on the FWE nexus.
• Development and testing of innovative approaches for local knowledge co-creation and participation.
• Enhancing of the visibility of the FWE nexus.


The project adopts an Urban Living Lab approach involving users as co-creators to test and evaluate creative solutions and ideas, e.g. citizen science tools and approaches.

Expected results and impacts

The outcomes contribute to science and to practice and enable integrative transformative urban governance to promote FWE systems resilience. Recommendations will be formulated for potential users including local government, public authorities, or non-governmental organizations.

At the heart of this transformative research project is an unban living lab (ULL) approach allowing active user involvement, real-world context, multi-stakeholder participation, multi-method approaches and local user co-creation. This will allow future-oriented urban research on FWE which adopts purely efficiency or technological centered approaches to be redirected towards more participatory and context-based methods, as the ULL approach helps to create, collect, combine, and disseminate applicable transformative knowledge for sustainability-oriented local governance and “creative, participatory urban development” (WGBU 2016b:21).

The ULLs are carried out in three case study areas: Tulcea (Romania), Slupsk (Poland), and Wilmington (USA). In these waterfront cities, we will identify interfaces by 1) examining the complex interplay of social, economic, environmental, or technological factors related to FWE-nexus governance, 2) advancing approaches for interlinking FWE-nexus infrastructure systems, and 3) strengthening nexus resilience through active participation of local stakeholders and citizens. These have valuable local knowledge on the FWE-nexus which is vital for the project’s success and its long-term effectiveness: Their active inclusion in form of an urban living lab and citizen science approach shall support the implementation of the created interfaces into the cities’ governance structures and ensure the sustainability results beyond the project’s life time.

To make the nexus perspective more tangible for local participants, each ULL will start from one FWE nexus element that has already been identified in exchange with local stakeholders. Accordingly, in the ULL Slupsk/Poland, the food supply will be the starting point for exploring the FWE-nexus; while Wilmington/USA the starting point will be energy provisioning and consumption, and in the ULL Tulcea/Romania water with a focus on irrigation systems for gardening.

In order to achieve comparable results, the ULLs are designed based on a common framework. Three ULL workshops in each participating city will constitute the main pillars of the research process. These workshops are based on a common citizen science toolbox (WP 2), based on existing tools adapted and documented for the application towards FWE nexus interlinkages. Possible tools and methods include, depending on local needs and the problem or research question being addressed: public participatory GIS and crowd-mapping (for any subjective or objective information), volunteered geographic information (e.g. geolocation, routes, and observations) or mobile sensing (e.g. photographic, smartphone, or instrument based).

In the first workshop we have worked with participants to determine needs, problems or questions, and applicable methods that address them. In addition to the toolbox, comprehensive data and background information on FWE nexus structures will be prepared for each ULL and hosted via the “project platform”.

The ULL workshops are focused on three major steps:

  • ULL STEP 1) definition of local research (questions, goals), citizen science toolbox, and methods (in WP 2/workshops 1)
  • ULL STEP 2) visualization and discussion of results and evaluation, with focus on the citizen-science-interface (in WP 3/workshops 2), and
  • ULL STEP 3) documentation and implementation of the results into a decision support tool (citizen-science-policy-interface, in WP 4/workshops 3).

Data is gathered using a standardized framework, and the co-creation process are monitored and evaluated based on observations, evaluation forms and interviews with participants during and after each ULL workshop (WP 5). The results serve as basis for the guidelines on citizen science at the FWE nexus and the proof of concept as well as transfer and dissemination activities in (WP 6). The project is designed in interlinked work packages each led by one of the scientific consortium partners, while each of the partners contributes to several WPs.


This project is funded in the framework of the Sustainable Global Urban Initiative (SUGI) Food-Water-Energy Nexus program. This program has been set up by the Belmont Forum and Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Urban Europe based on funds of the EU and national funding agencies.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 830254.


SLUPSK – Poland

Słupsk is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland, with a population of around 99,000. Near the Baltic Sea on the Słupia River, it is the administrative seat of Słupsk County. Słupsk is one of the most densely populated cities in the country. After years of decline it is lively town which want to set up new standard for sustainable urban development and new ways of civic participation.

TULCEA - Romania

Tulcea has a population of about 72,000 and has been an important harbor since ancient times since it is where the famous Danube river finally ends its journey through Europe as it empties into the Black sea creating one of the largest wetlands on earth known as the Danube Delta. The city of Tulcea, laid out on seven hills like Rome, was founded in the 7th century BC by the Dacians.


Wilmington is the largest city in the U.S. state of Delaware with a population of approximately 70,000. It is located along the Delaware River, 40 km from Philadelphia and 105 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Wilmington was originally settled by the Swedes in the mid 17th century, known for its munitions and shipbuilding industries, and is now a center for finance, insurance, and health services.