Since 2018, the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) has been actively disseminating interactive modeling of Nexus approach (Nexus game) in Central Asia. The introduction of the game in the region began within the framework of the European Union’s (EU) project “Nexus Dialogue in Central Asia”, implemented by CAREC

Душанбе, 2023 г. Photo 1. Nexus game at the 5th Central Asian Climate Change Conference (CACCC-2023), Dushanbe

For the first time, the Nexus game was presented in 2019 as part of the Central Asian Leadership Program (CALP) in Almaty. The game became the first interactive tool for the Nexus approach in the Central Asian region, arousing intense interest among the CALP participants. It showed good results in expanding the participants’ knowledge of the “water-energy-food”  (WEF) Nexus approach.



Photos 2.3. Nexus game with CALP participants. Almaty, 2019

Using the game format to explain the interconnection and interdependence of the water, energy and food sectors, which directly affect the socio-economic development of any state, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the expansion of the Nexus game coverage in five Central Asian countries. From March 2022 to May 2024 more than 500 people took part in the Nexus game events, including young water diplomats, leading teachers and students of state academies and universities, members of basin organizations, heads of the water sector, journalists, and even employees of international development organizations (USAID, EC, GIZ). The desire to participate in the game was also expressed by the Chairman and members of the Executive Committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (the highest regional body in Central Asia for the implementation of decisions of the Council of Heads of Founding States on the Aral Sea problem), the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development and the National Commission on Irrigation and Drainage of the Republic of Tajikistan.


Interactive immersion into intersectoral relationships helps representatives of different fields and specialists at all levels to understand the practical interdependence of sectors, the need for compromises and possible synergies.


What is the Nexus game?


The Nexus game is a facilitated process of playing 5 different scenarios for the development of territories upstream and downstream in the context of climate change, taking into account the availability of water resources, the needs of the population, industry, agriculture, wetlands and neighboring countries. It allows participants not only to better understand complex environmental and socio-economic dynamics, but also to experience  the consequences of various development strategies in practice. By emphasizing the need for trade-offs and cooperation between different sectors and countries in the face of climate change and limited resources, the game promotes the development of more flexible and sustainable development strategies, taking into account the interests of all stakeholders. Thus, the Nexus game promotes the development of teamwork skills, conflict management and decision-making in conditions of uncertainty.


The game was developed by the Centre for Systems Solutions in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the «Sustainable Energy for All» Initiative. It was brought to Central Asia on the initiative of CAREC with funding from the European Union in 2018.




In 2021, with the support of CAREC, the EU and the USAID Central Asia’s Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment Activity, the game was introduced to the Central Asian academic community.


Европейский Союз способствует внедрению подхода Нексус в систему образования Центрально-Азиатских стран

Photo 4. Nexus game with NAS members. Dushanbe, 2021

In the period from 2022 to 2024, more than 15 trainings were conducted and more than 10 sets of the game were handed over to leading academies and universities in Central Asia, in particular: the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the L.N. Eurasian National University. Gumilyov (Astana, Kazakhstan), Kazakh-German University (Almaty, Kazakhstan), Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic (Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic), Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan (Dushanbe, Tajikistan), University of Central Asia (Khorog, Tajikistan), National Research University “Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers” (Tashkent, Uzbekistan), Academy of Public Administration services under the President of Turkmenistan, Turkmen Agricultural Institute, UNRCCA  Preventive Diplomacy Academy (Ashgabat, Turkmenistan).


These universities have not only been trained in the Nexus game, but also actively apply it in their educational activities among students.


It is worth noting that the game is used not only at the faculties of ecology and natural sciences, but also at the faculties of state and municipal administration, law, economics and management, international relations and world politics. This means that the Nexus approach is in demand both for environmentalists and for managers, lawyers, economists, foreign affairs specialists, etc.


Application sustainability


In two years10 bilateral memorandums of cooperation were concluded, according to which academies and universities, trained and provided with game sets, committed to use the game in their curricula, as well as integrate it into the educational process, which is an important step towards teaching students sustainable development and intersectoral interaction.


Photos 5, 6, 7, 8.  Handing over the Nexus game sets to Central Asian universities (from left to right – APA under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, APA under the President of the Tajik Republic, APA under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, “TIIAME” NRU). Bishkek, Dushanbe, Astana, Tashkent, 2022


Photos 9, 10. Nexus game at CALP-2023 and CACCC-2023, Almaty, Dushanbe


Feedback from participants:


“Ensuring water, food and energy security is at the top of today’s global development agenda. Nexus simulation is a great tool to learn to appreciate many interconnected challenges arising from the interactions between the water, energy, food sectors and ecosystems. It is valuable for training future specialists who will work in these key sectors to manage vital resources in the most efficient way to make our economy more resilient to climate change and revert environmental degradation,” stated Dana Akhmedyanova, Head of the International Relations Department of the Gumilyov Eurasian National University.



Photos 11, 12, 13, 14. Nexus game trainings at Central Asian universities (from left to right – APA under the President of the Tajik Republic, APA under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, “TIIAME” NRU, APA under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan). Dushanbe, Bishkek, Tashkent, Astana, 2022


“The interactive immersion format is extremely convenient for mastering such a multi-component approach as WEF Nexus, which does not only require a good theoretical foundation, but also the development of negotiating skills, cross-sectoral thinking and strategic planning,” noted Mr Somon Ismatov, Vice-Rector for international relations, Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan.


“Training on the principles of cross-sectoral thinking in such digestible, interactive format perfectly complements the existing theoretical material that we provide to future leaders of the country, and can be a guarantee of environmental rationality and economic decision-making quality in the future,” stated Ms Aina Mamytova, Head of the Research Department “Green Economy” of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic.




“The Nexus game is a great opportunity to understand the Nexus approach, as well as the specifics of transboundary water problems in Central Asia. She teaches how to conduct interstate negotiations taking into account mutual interests, which is very important in teaching international students,” said Aigerim Ospanova, PhD, Professor, Head of the Department of Regional Studies of the Faculty of International Relations, L.N. Gumilyov ENU.




Photos 13, 14, 15, 16. Nexus game at the Central Asian universities (from left to right – APA under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, “TIIAME” NRU, L.N. Gumilyov ENU, APA under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic). Astana, Tashkent, Osh, 2022-2023

CAREC has contributed to the widespread dissemination of the Nexus game not only in the academic environment. Thus, in 2023-2024, trainings were conducted during events organized by the team of the Integrated Rural Development Project/TRIGGER, co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented in consortium with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), GFA Consulting Group and HELVETAS. These trainings were conducted for managers and employees of government agencies, as well as for representatives of basin councils.



Photo 19. Nexus game for basin organizations. Aini, 2024 .              Photo 20. Nexus game for  civil servants, Dushanbe, 2023

Thus, CAREC, with funding from the EU and the USAID Central Asia’s Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment Activity, contributed to the active dissemination of the Nexus Approach in the Central Asian region. The Nexus game has become a unifying factor for universities in the region and helps in training a cohort of highly educated specialists interested in solving environmental problems in Central Asia.


Additional information: Ludmila Kiktenko, Environmental Management Program Manager, CAREC,

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