Reflections of our year
When you expect the inevitable, the unforeseen occurs. For years now, the inevitable has been climate change and water stress, but the unforeseen was COVID-19. 2020-2021 was marked by these words and like everyone else, we had to adapt and innovate. And we did it at scale and pace and we are proud of the way we did it and we are also proud to present you this year’s annual report that if anything else, is a real demonstration of how stronger we emerged from the COVID19 challenge and determined to turn adversity into opportunity for us and our community.
Water Innovation Europe 2020 was the first conference turned into a digital edition that exceeded our expectations. Over 500 participants joined us for 5 days online during an innovative water week. More than 200 B2B meetings took place and participants visited 15 virtual booths at the digital exhibition area. Since then, we kept organising our Water Knowledge Europe editions online with great success and Water Innovation Europe 2021 is now coming up in a digital format, again, under the topic ‘EU Water Smart Society for a Global Leadership’ on 14-18 June 2021. Digital has come to stay and building on the Covid-experience and our continuous pursuit to better serve our members, we keep working on our own digital strategy to see how it can create a kind of digital twin of our services.
This year, we also adopted a new governance model. In November 2020, a new Water Europe Executive Committee (We ExCom) was elected. The Executive Committee’s role is to support and guide the Water Europe President and the Executive Director in the execution of their tasks.
According to the new governance adopted at the general meeting in June 2020, the Water Europe Executive Committee consists of the Water Europe President, the Executive Director and five Vice-Presidents who are in charge of different portfolios according to the main priorities of Water Europe.
Within our advocacy programme, we worked hard to include the drivers for achieving a Water-Smart Society in EU legislation. We launched new publications, reports, and position papers. Within our collaboration programme, new Working Groups started, white papers were produced, new faces joined us. Within our market programme, we further developed our Water Oriented-Living Labs strategy and linked it with the International Water Dialogues initiative, and we could keep going on about ‘we and us’ but this is not to demonstrate how successful Water Europe managed to be one more year.
This is only a strong evidence that hard work and a united and committed network of members, ambassadors and collaborators became our own vaccine to the COVID-19 crisis and conditions imposed on us. We recognise and thank you for everything you have done for Water Europe this year and we hope you enjoy our annual report.
e than 200 B2B meetings took place and participants visited 15 virtual booths at the digital exhibition area. Since then, we kept organising our Water
Durk Krol, Water Europe Executive Director
Tomas Michel, Water Europe President
Our Year in review
“Water is of vital importance for all, literally – for the individual as well as for the society. In the awakening from the global pandemic and in the middle of a climate storm, our mission to build a Water-Smart Society is relevant now more than ever.
I look forward to further strengthening Water Europe as an inclusive organization of committed members covering the whole spectrum of the water ecosystem in order to make our vision come true!
by Hans Goossens, First Water Europe Vice-President
No membership fee increase
New members on average,
How does membership works?
WE is a value-based multi-stakeholder association that represents the full diversity of the water eco-system. WE membership is segmented into different membership colleges in line with the diversity of the sector.
The different colleges are in turn grouped in corporate members and associate members. Associate membership is open to a limited group of entities that do not qualify for corporate membership. Associate members have the same rights as corporate members with the exception that they do not pay a membership fee and in return have no say in the WE governance. The WE Board of Directors has the ultimate say on what membership college an aspirant member belongs to.
5 Corporate Colleges
Multinational Corporations working with water
Research & Technology Developers
Suppliers & SMEs
Large Water Users
2 Associates Colleges
Civil Society Organizations
Our members per college
- A: Multinational Corporations
- B: Research & Technology Developers
- C: Utilities
- D: Suppliers & SMEs
- E: Large Water Users
- F: Public Authorities
Water Europe has started a Membership Experience Journey with the support of Capgemini in order to better understand the current and future needs per member segment in order to further improve the service to its members.
“A Water-Smart Society will only be achieved through open-minded people working together. Our progress is rarely hindered by technologies; it is usually limited by silo thinking, rigid mindsets, single-sided participation, resistance to change and lack of collaboration. I want to counter all that by promoting and investing in diversity, gender balance, people, innovation, nexus thinking, stakeholder engagement and co-creating of our water solutions is what will make the whole water ecosystem thrive and dominate.“
by Chrysi Laspidou, Vice-President for Technology & Research
What is the WE Collaboration Programme?
It allows our members to network, to exchange knowledge and experiences, and to collaborate along the water value chain by addressing common challenges, developing and implementing new solutions, and shaping successful project consortia.
Launch of Water Projects Europe
In October 2020, a new Water Europe event saw the light: The Water Projects Europe event series made to foster collaboration and synergies between R&I projects working on specific topics. Over the year, three Water Projects Europe (WPE) editions took place in the context of the Water Knowledge Europe events in 2020 and 2021, with the participation of several EU funded projects and European Commission officers from various EC Directorates-General and Executive Agencies.
New Working Groups
The Smart Water Networks Sensors and Tools Working Group, led by Armando di Nardo (Med.Hydro) and Lydia Vamvakeridou (KWR), aims to identify the future trends in the water sensors sector contributing to enhance water services and solve water-related global challenges.’
The Water and Public Health Working Group, led by Claudia Topalli (IDEXX) and Cristian Carboni ( De Nora), aims at contributing 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.
Water Knowledge Europe editions
The WE Collaboration Programme of Water Europe organised 3 Water Knowledge Europe events in October and December 2020 and the Spring Edition in March 2021 with speakers from European Commission DGRTD, DG CNT and the Executive Agency for SMES (EASME).
The Water Knowledge Europe events provided a great support to the WE Members and non-members to create consortiums to react to the H2020 EU Green Deal and Horizon Europe calls for proposals. The WKE Spring Edition 2021 also introduced the new Digital Europe Programme, the EIC and LIFE Programmes 2021-2027.
Collaborative Working Groups & Vision Leadership Teams Workshops
The Water Europe Working Groups Human Capital and NEXUS organised the workshop “Play to learn the Nexus Approach – Serious Game: learning for a resource-efficient and green economy”. The Workshop showed how Serious Games can be used for purposes for education, decision making and public policy making.
The Water Innovation System Vision Leadership Team organised the workshop “Beyond Innovation water landscapes: a synergic exploration towards a cross matched Water Innovation System VLT white paper”, focusing on the opportunities given by highly transformative water innovations in the European scenario.
The Vision Leadership Team Value in Water realised the workshop “Discussion and elaboration of how the WE WGs see themselves represented in the topic Value in Water” with the proactive involvement of the Water Europe Working Groups.
The Workshop “Hybrid Grey and Green Infrastructures: setting the scene” organized by the WE Hybrid Grey Green Infrastructure Vision Leadership Team discussed with the European Commission representatives how the combination and enforcement of Nature Based Solutions (NBS), grey and green systems can lead to the most appropriate solutions: the hybrid grey and green infrastructures.
The Digital Water Vision Leadership Team and the Working Groups Human Capital and Water and ICT organised the workshop “Building a Water Smart Europe in the Digital Age: Drivers, Barriers and Opportunities.”
Horizon EU Preparatory Webinars
In the framework of WKE Spring Edition 2021, Water Europe organised seven free webinars to provide information and tips and tricks to the water stakeholders on the next water related calls for proposal of Horizon Europe. The weekly webinars attracted more than 2.200 online viewers.
Working Groups Meetings
44 Working Group meetings took place from June 2020 to May 2021 back-to-back to our three main Water Knowledge Europe editions in October 2020, December 2020 and March 2021.
“We have decided to develop the instrument of a WELL: a Water Europe Living Lab. Together with our top-down approach to policy and legislation, it should help to shape bottom-up a Water-Smart society together with the citizens of Europe. We will try to do this in Europe, together with parties outside Europe and with the use of digital means to get as close as possible to the citizens of Europe“
by Wim van Vierssen, Vice-President for Innovation
What is the WE Market Programme?
It enables our members to bring their research results and innovative solutions to the market in Europe and beyond.
A successful Water Market Europe edition
Water Europe organised Water Market Europe (WME) on Digital and Cybersecurity solutions for Utilities and Industries, considering that development of digital technologies is one of the top priorities for making Europe competitive in the global scenario of the water sector. WME 2021 brought together problems owners and solution providers from the Digital Water domain not only to facilitate the matchmaking between demand and offer of innovation but also to foster the digital and green transition for a water smart society.
Marketplace Tool is taking shape
Water Europe is partner of the Nextgen project (Towards a Next Generation of Water Systems and Services for the Circular Economy), which is developing the Market Place platform that will be run by WE after the project completion.
The Market Place will be a new tool to support the WE Market Program because it will host available technologies, tools, products, showcase successes, boost networking and bring together potential partners with common interests. It will also support the organisation of face-to-face or online meetings and events as well as foster fund and investment innovation.
Digitalisation of Water Europe In Progress
Building on the Covid-experience and in its continuous pursuit to better serve its members WE will also develop its own digital strategy to see how it can create a kind of digital twin of its services.
Water-Oriented Living Labs
In its Atlas of EU Water-Oriented Living-Labs (2019), WE has launched the WOLL concept as a key innovation tool for building a Water-Smart Society. In the atlas, WE has developed the WOLL methodology and made an initial inventory of existing initiative that match the WOLL definition. In the meantime, WOLLs have become fully included in our advocacy for water in European collaborative funding programmes. The WOLLs have also been included in numerous H2020 projects, including Ultimate, B-Water Smart, Water Mining, and Multisource.
Over the last year, WE has been working on a new strategy for the WOLLs. It is
built on 3 pillars:
1. A further elaboration of the WOLL’s methodology and inventory in the Atlas of EU Wateroriented
2. The creation of a WE WOLLs network,
3. The creation of a limited number of Water Europe Living Lab’s.
WELLs will be legal entities that engage in a long-term relationship with Water Europe to implement the WE strategy on a Water-Smart Society. A WELL is based on a joint (WELL and WE) strategic plan, with two key dimensions as being crucial for its success: water-smart goals and citizen involvement. The role-out of this strategy will be overseen by the Vertical Vision Leadership Teams in coordination with the Vice-President Innovation and the Vice-President Research with the support of a WELLs-manager with support staff.
WE International Water Dialogues (IWDS)
WOLLS will also become the basis for the WE strategy to enter into relationships with’ parties outside Europe for the implementation of water technology and for the benefit of a Water-Smart Society.
We aim to use the WOLLs-network to also connect WOLLs in the EU with similar initiatives outside the EU as well as facilitate a WELL initiative outside the EU. We envisage three geographical spearheads: European neighbours (theme: good neighbourship), commercially interesting markets (theme: high-tech benchmarking) and hotspots in a UN context (theme: international partnership). WE will organize the IWD implementation-oriented dialogues in coherence and synergy with the policy-oriented platform dialogues of the Commission.
WE foresee that the Digital Twin will become a key tool in the role-out of the WOLL strategy. The water sector is a capital-intensive sector due to the water infrastructure that is indispensable for water management. The Digital Twin Concept is an emerging paradigm that connects realization-management-maintenance and supports all phases in an integrated way. Digital Twins integrate artificial intelligence (e.g. Machine Learning) and domain models with real-time data to make living digital copies of the physical infrastructure. They change with their physical counterparts. A Digital Twin approach is used to evaluate design alternatives and perform virtual stress tests. They enable performance optimizations, to plan upgrades and carry out preventive maintenance during the realization and maintenance phase. In addition, they assist in the real-time operational control of water systems
“To be impactful in Brussels, you need to have a compelling story backed up with solid facts and case studies and I believe Water Europe has a very good story to tell”
by David Martin, Vice President for Advocacy
What is the WE Advocacy Programme?
It raises the awareness of the value of water for our society and economy, making sure that all the right drivers are put in place. We advocate for the proper inclusion of the water-related topics in the European funding programmes.
WE produced 7 Position Papers
Let’s join forces!
Over the last year, Water Europe has joined structural and one-purpose coalitions to support their objectives on specific legislation or to recognise the true value of water. Collaboration is set in our DNA, mission, vision, values and objectives towards a Water Smart Society, and we can only achieve this long-term objective by
gathering the water ecosystem and reaching out our sector. Coalitions are therefore a key instrument for us, and we will continue to join forces. Which were the two key coalitions of this year?
Coalition on Access to Sanitation
Co-signed by many of Water Europe members, Dominique Gatel presents the scope and objective of this coalition.
“The Joint Statement for the Promotion of Access to Sanitation for All in Europe aims at guaranteeing access to safe sanitation services for everyone in Europe, since as many as 10 million people still lack access to safe sanitation services in the EU. …” To read more about the full statement, please click here.
EU Water Alliance
In the course of this past year, the EU Water Alliance coalition managed to hold fruitful meetings with the cabinets of 15 European Commissioners, including a discussion with Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius. During these encounters, the EUWA was able to promote its manifesto for a Water- Smart Society and circular economy, as well as give much-needed visibility to water issues in portfolios distinct from environment and climate.
EC Expert Working Groups
During the last two years, Water Europe joined two EC expert groups on the Industrial Emissions Directive and the Water Framework directive. Water Europe is now entering in the activities of the WFD common implementation structure thanks to its representatives. In close collaboration with Water Europe, Dominique Gatel has also started to represent the voice of Water Europe in the art. 13 Forum on the industrial emissions directive.
MEP Water Group activities
Under WE’s supervision, the MEP Water Group has recently been renewed, with MEP Pernille Weiss from the EPP taking over as chair of the group. In 2021 the new MEP Water Group has held its kickoff event, which saw the participation of Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius, followed by a webinar in collaboration with UNESCO and an event on energy efficiency with Energy Commissioner Simson.
WE Policy Advisory Committee
Water Europe’s Policy Advisory Committee is in charge of supporting the Board in its activities regarding the legislative dossiers that Water Europe works on and the appropriate actions that need to be taken. In the past year the PAC has invited several EU officials to its meetings in order to discuss and gather information on relevant topics; among these are Joachim D’Eugenio from DG Environment, Anne-Katherina Weidenbach from DG ENER and especially Florika Fink-Hooijer, new Director General of DG Environment.
Water Innovation Europe 2020: A Great Success
The digital edition of Water Innovation Europe 2020 wrapped up successfully on the 26th of June 2020. During the innovative water week dedicated to ‘A Water-Smart Society for a postCOVID19 Green Deal’, over 500 participants joined the conference online across the whole week for 5 daily plenary sessions, 6 Water Europe Innovation Awards sessions, 2 side events, 16 Working Group meetings, over 200 B2B meetings, 15 digital booths, and the Water Europe Annual General Meeting.
We are reaching 30.000 individuals through our communications every month.
To inform them. To engage them.
+ 19 Videos
+ 8 Live Streamings
We are interacting with more than 12.000 social media users every day
Total number of followers on
all social media channels over the years
our social media influence
With 2 newsletters every month, Water Europe informs 18.000 individuals from all over Europe and the world.
This year we sent…
8 Newsletters to the whole water community
11 Newsletters to our Water Europe members
German Federal Minister for the Environment
João Pedro Fernandes
Portuguese Minister for the Environment
MEP Water Group Chairman, EPP member
Mayor of Mechelen
President of EYPW
Florika Fink- Hooier
EC, Director General for the Environment
Involved in 24 EU funded projects.
Served more than 50 members in 6 years
Water Europe facilitates its members’ involvement into EU research projects, and supports their outreach activities, providing communication, dissemination, policy and networking services to projects that are in line with Water Europe Vision and SIRA and have at least one Water Europe member in their consortium. Since 2014, Water Europe has participated in 24 projects, serving more than 50 members.
Water Europe services for project involvement
Communication & Dissemination
24 Projects since 2014
Water Europe envisions a Water-Smart Society, in which the true Value of Water is recognised and realised, and all available water sources are managed in such a way that water scarcity and pollution of groundwater are avoided. Water and resource loops are largely closed to foster a circular economy and optimal resource efficiency, while the water system is resilient against the impact of climate change events.
▫ Improve coordination and collaboration in the water sector and water using sectors.
▫ Enhance the performance and competitiveness of the European water and water using sectors in the EU and beyond.
▫ Contribute to solving global challenges through research and innovation.
Our Values define us
Water Europe strives to generate impactful results for its members, and it does so with commitment towards building a Water-Smart Society. Our values and our vision for the future are clear. All our actions are guided by this one main compass, our Water Vision 2030. Our vision means societal responsibility. It means forward-looking innovation. It means evidence based and financially sustainable solutions. This is the way we deliver results, together with our members, covering the whole water value chain. This is how we have made it possible to deliver the right results, the right way.