Interview with Claudia Topalli, Water Europe board member of College D, Suppliers & SMEs
You were recently elected as Water Europe board member of college D ‘Suppliers & SMEs’- Could you tell us what drives you personally to have this role at Water Europe? What do you want to achieve?
It is my pleasure and honour to be a board member of Water Europe, I am very grateful to all my college D colleagues that trusted me with their vote. I would like to bring forward several topics that we prioritized in the working group Water and Health where I was leader. It is a key priority to make public health an important element in EU water-related policies and boost the R&I methodology to contribute to the achievement of a Water Smart Society in which the value of water is recognized and protected as a precious resource for human health and well-being.
Representing the solutions providers at Water Europe, which ones do you consider the key challenges and the most burning needs of this college and how do you contribute to addressing these in the context of Water Europe?
As a new member of college D and former leader and co-founder of the working Group Water and public health, I would certainly bring forward Health, since Health is a horizontal topic that relates to many policy areas. Coordination with other working groups and colleges is vital to have a holistic approach. Another challenge is the market access requirements in Europe for the water sector, it is important to have the same and transparent European requirements for products in every Member State which would mean less administrative burden, lower costs for solution providers and most important availability of innovative solutions in across Europe.
Encouraging innovation in the water sector is vital. How important do you consider the role of SMEs in this regard and what are the existing opportunities for the uptake of their innovations to the next level both inside and outside of Europe?
The European Water sector includes a large number of players, including 9,000 SMEs, due to their proximity to local communities and the deep knowledge of their specific needs and challenges, the role of SMEs and solution providers is key to innovation. Funding opportunities, together with policy coordination, as well as administrative support, is vital for this important market challenge at a European and mostly at a global level.
Based on our vision, Water Europe aims to build a Water-Smart Society. From your point of view, which actions shall we put forward to make this happen and how could the solution providers contribute to that?
The European and Global water challenges that are naturally linked to Sustainable Development Goals would need an integrated approach in research, innovation, investment and policy objectives. WE should promote research that focuses on the protection of water natural water resources and boosts the European water market as well as the global competitiveness of European water industries. Solution providers are part of the answer by providing innovative market solutions that contribute to the achievement of these challenging objectives and it is important to create a bridge between the market and administrative requirements so that innovative water technologies can reach the market in a reasonable amount of time.