Dresden Nexus Conference 2020 awarded "eku – Zukunftspreis"

For the short-term and very successful realization of the international Dresden Nexus Conference 2020 as a virtual event (eDNC2020), the organising institutions IOER, UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden receive the eku – Zukunftspreis (eku – Future Award) of the Saxon Ministry of the Environment (SMEKUL). The organisers of the eDNC2020 are awarded in the category "eku erfolg Wissenschaft" (eku success science). The contribution was selected by an expert panel from a total of 63 submissions.

Since 2015, the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER), the United Nations University - Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES) and the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) have been organising the international conference series Dresden Nexus Conference (DNC). The biennial series brings together global expertise to discuss integrated perspectives on the integrated management of vital resources and to advance the nexus approach.

In spring 2020, the global Corona pandemic presented the DNC organisers with enormous challenges: What to do with a conference that was to bring together more than 300 academics and experts from politics, administration, business and civil society from all over the world in Dresden? Those responsible from TU Dresden (Prof. Lars Bernard), UNU-FLORES (Prof. Edeltraud Guenther) and IOER (Prof. Marc Wolfram) were unanimous: the topics of the DNC could not be postponed, the conference had to take place! Within a few weeks, the organizing partners converted the face-to-face event into a completely digital format and thus ventured into a format that was by no means common practice at the time. This placed enormous demands on the event team at a time of great uncertainty and technical unpredictability. But the success of the eDNC2020 confirmed the organisers in their decision.

More than 1,000 people from around 100 countries registered for the online conference and discussed pressing issues around the topic of "Circular Economy in a Sustainable Society" from 3 to 5 June 2020. This meant that the first virtual edition of the DNC had a far greater reach than an on-site event in Dresden. In addition, people who normally cannot travel to international meetings in person, such as people from poorer regions in the global South, were able to participate in the meeting. At the same time, by avoiding long travels, the eDNC2020 helped to significantly reduce emissions.

The success of the eDNC2020 has now convinced the expert panel that decides on the award of the eku – Zukunftspreis Sachsen. The organisers - TU Dresden, UNU-FLORES and IOER - receive the award in the category “eku erfolg Wissenschaft”, combined with a cash award of 5,000 euros.

Due to the great success of the eDNC2020 and the positive effects, such as the better integration of participants from the Global South and the reduction of CO2 emissions by non-travel, the organisers, all members of DRESDEN-concept and based in Saxony, have decided that, in the foreseeable future, international DNC events will take place online. The next Dresden Nexus Conference will be held on the topic "Biodiversity - Stewardship for Vital Resources" from 23 to 25 May 2022.

Statements of the eDNC2020 organizers:

Prof. Marc Wolfram, director of the IOER:
“The 2020 conference has been an important milestone for the DNC: Through this first virtual edition we have been able to multiply the global community involved while also rebalancing participation from the North and South, and across generations. This fully aligns with our objective to provide an open platform for knowledge exchange and foster diversity and innovation in the nexus debate.”

Prof. Edeltraud Guenther, director of UNU-FLORES:
“DNC2020 proved a very timely example of transforming a threat into an opportunity. When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit us, we expected a virtual format to provide perhaps an inferior interim solution. However, in an online format, the DNC2020 capitalised on a disruptive innovation to lower our collective carbon footprint as much as possible. The result was an event that promoted inclusivity and accessibility and was internationally well-attended and received.”

Prof. Lars Bernard, at the time of DNC2020 chairperson for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at TU Dresden:
“Organizing the DNC2020 as a virtual meeting place in challenging times – where we only know today that we were only at the beginning of a pandemic that fundamentally changed our daily life - turned out to become a success and we are very grateful to all, who made eDNC2020 happen. This way we could fulfill our aims to bridge between Science and Policy and from Global to Local.”

About the eku – Zukunftspreis Sachsen

The eku – Zukunftspreis für Energie, Klima, Umwelt (eku – Future Award for Energy, Climate, Environment) is an initiative from the “Start 2020” emergency programme and was awarded for the first time in 2020 by the Saxon State Ministry for Energy, Climate, Environment and Agriculture (SMEKUL). The prize is awarded to projects that make an exemplary contribution to ecologically sustainable development in Saxony and to the protection of the climate, resources, nature and the environment.

More information on the eku – Zukunftspreis (in German)


The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.