Risorse bibliografiche
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoria
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativa
Scheda Riassuntiva
Anno Accademico 2019/2020
Tipo incarico Dottorato
Docente Colombo Emanuela
Cfu 5.00 Tipo insegnamento Monodisciplinare

Corso di Dottorato Da (compreso) A (escluso) Insegnamento

Programma dettagliato e risultati di apprendimento attesi

Objectives and contents of the course

Over the last decades, the interest of the international community for the multiple interconnections among natural resource availability, their equitable distribution, and the impact on development and society has widely increased. The 2030 Agenda by the UN System and the 17 Sustainable Development Objectives highlights the world is increasingly interconnected and social challenges are getting more and more complex so that a global call to multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder actions is recognised. A consistent number of goals (6, 7, 14, 15) deals directly with natural resources (water, energy and food), which are a necessary precondition for human promotion and may represents an instrumental right to fight poverty and are, therefore, at the core of the Agenda 2030.

From one side, it is clear that equitable access to and appropriate management of natural resources is also pivotal to the full achievement of a sustainable development paradigm. From the other, global change is challenging planning and management of natural resources with increasing variability and extreme uncertainty, making the design of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable engineering solutions a non-trivial task.

The course will provide a general overview of the various dimensions of Sustainable Development and will develop knowledge and skills for the advanced modelling, management, and planning of natural resources systems in a changing world. The focus will be on water, energy and food systems and their interlinks (the so called WEF Nexus). Students will learn (1) how to formulate WEF management and planning problems within the framework of Sustainable Development paradigm accounting for multiple sectors, and complexities arising from both the coupled nature of human and natural systems and ongoing global change; (2) how to use an ensemble of (open and transparent) modelling tools to comparatively evaluate integrated solutions and assess the economic and environmental implications of the associated policies within a WEF Nexus approach. This course responds to the global call towards a new role for Science within the Agenda 2030 where multidisciplinary and cross fertilization among disciplines are strongly needed for matching the complexities underlined by the 17 SDGs. 


Structure of the Course

Module 1: The paradigm of Sustainable Development. Trends in Development models from the Marshall Plan to the 2030 Agenda. Natural Resources and Human activity. Cause-effect relation in problem analysis.

Module 2. The Food Challenge. Planetary Boundaries for the agri-food ecosystem and SDG1. Food Security and Sustainable agriculture. Accounting for Water use in Agriculture

Module 3: The Water Challenge. Water trends, challenges, and SDG6. Water security. Planning and managing complex hydro-energy systems. Comprehensive Water Management across multiple spatiotemporal scales.

Module 4. The Energy Challenge. The Global Energy Challenge and SDG7: trends and forecast. Resource availability and technological roadmap to decarbonisaton. Life Cycle Energy Accounting. Consumption and production paradigm. Introduction to Energy Modelling and Accounting tools.

Module 5. Beyond the WEF Nexus. Open and interactive seminars on Climate Change and Cities, Design and Social Innovation to complement the need for integrated approach to resource management within Sustainable Development

Module 6. Hands on. Project work development by using different modelling tools to address realistic natural resources management problems. The project work will be related to one or more WEF case studies applied at global level using an ensemble of modelling tools defined according to the case study.


Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes may be aggregated into four areas of knowledge

  1. Students will learn the foundation and evolution of the main development models from the Marshal plan to the new paradigm of Sustainable Development. They will learn the principles of integrated resources management and planning for the WEF nexus and will understand the implication of resources on development.
  2. Students will learn how to use and apply mathematical models to inform policy making in the context of WEF nexus.
  3. Students will learn how to make choice and provide judgement within complex framework during the execution of the project work dedicated to policy analysis.
  4. Students will learn how to present their work given a certain time and audience.


Location of the course

The Course's venue is still under discussion.

In case it will be the Xian Jiatong University, more specifcally at the Joint School of Design and Innovation Center,  travel costs and accomodation, will be paid by the course. A public call will be open among Ph.D students to comply with the limited number of open position (Foreign students will be also asked to check their VISA status for travelling to China). 15 Ph.D students from PoliMI will attend the course with 10-15 Ph.D from China and 3-5 from Africa.

As an alternative the course will be held at the Bovisa Campus.


Preparatory Listening 

1. First two lectures on https://www.ted.com/playlists/67/the_quest_to_end_povert

2. From Polimi MOOC “The Strange Paradox of the World Energy Question”


On the you tube channel: Water Energy and Food Nexus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbzGc-PixUs

 3. Sustainable Food Security: Crop Production. Please have a listening to https://www.edx.org/course/sustainable-food-security-crop-wageningenx-sfscpx

4. From Polimi MOOC “The Strange Paradox of the World Energy Question” https://www.pok.polimi.it/courses/course-v1:Polimi+ASPenergy101+2016_M4/about

On the you tube channel

Energy and Human Activities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQV5P6KYj0g

Global Energy Stocks and flows (Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GHmC_xeuME

Global Energy Stocks and flows (Part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3ol4EwSKQg

Energy as a leverage to development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxrCA9v9a8A

Energy, Economy and Policy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fCy3aOgZQ4

Energy and Geopolitics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbyfCPSG_zY 

Note Sulla Modalità di valutazione

Organization of the course and exam details

Blended and flipped classes will complement ex-cathedra lectures for Module 1-2-3-4 which account for 3 ECTS of the course. Module 5, accounting for 2 ECTS is fully dedicated to project work and training on the job. Student will be introduced to a number of modelling tools and their integration applied to WEF policies will represent the core of the project work by testing the relevance of integrated approach in resource management. Students will be divided into group and the assignment will be a given WEF problem to be understood in term of the cause effect relationship leading to it. Students will have to propose a technological and policy scenario to improve the situations and check its effectiveness. The potential presence of Italian, Chinese and African Ph.Ds will enrich the cultural and scientific discussion and will support cross fertilisation methodologies in tackling global challenges.




Intervallo di svolgimento dell'attività didattica
Data inizio
Data termine

Calendario testuale dell'attività didattica

DAY 1 - 1 ECTS

Module 1 The paradigm of Sustainable Development - Prof. E. Colombo, Department of Energy (DENG)

Module 2 The FOOD challenge - Prof. M. C. Rulli Department of civil and environmental engineering (DICA)

DAY 2 - 1 ECTS

Module 3 The WATER challenge - Prof. A. Castelletti, Department of informatics and Bioengineering (DEIB)

Module 4 The Challenge of Energy - Prof. M.V. Rocco, Department of Energy (DENG)

DAY 3 - DAY 4 - DAY 5  - 3 ECTS

Module 6 – PROJECT WORKS – team work and evaluation - Proff. E. Colombo, A. Castelletti, M. C. Rulli


Module 5 – Beyond the WEF NEXUS - Open and interactive seminars on Climate Change and Cities, Design and Social Innovation

Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoriaUNITED NATIONS, TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD: THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, Editore: UNITED NATIONS, Anno edizione: 2015 https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=400&nr=2125&menu=1515
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoriaMonique Kremer, Peter van Lieshout, Robert Went, Doing Good or Doing Better development policies in a globalizing world, Editore: Amsterdam University Press, Anno edizione: 2009

Chapters 1-2-3

Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoriaScientific papers in each domani of the WEF nexus will be provided by the professors and uloaded on beep

Mix Forme Didattiche
Tipo Forma Didattica Ore didattiche
laboratorio informatico
laboratorio sperimentale
laboratorio di progetto

Informazioni in lingua inglese a supporto dell'internazionalizzazione
Insegnamento erogato in lingua Inglese
Disponibilità di materiale didattico/slides in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di libri di testo/bibliografia in lingua inglese
Possibilità di sostenere l'esame in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di supporto didattico in lingua inglese

Note Docente
The intensive week will be defined according to the availability of the Xian Campus in the period January-February 2020 before the beginning of second semester.
schedaincarico v. 1.6.5 / 1.6.5
Area Servizi ICT