The LIFE Programme (“The Financial Instrument for the Environment and Climate Action”) has released its 2020 call for project proposals to EU organisations working towards finding solutions to adapt to climate change.
This year, the programme has set aside more than €450 million for nature conservation, environmental protection and climate action projects. Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, several measures were also introduced to make it easier for organisations to apply under these exceptional circumstances.
For those applying for the environment sub-programme, there is a two-stage application process for most of the cases that consists first of the submission of a concept note. If the project is approved in the first stage, submission of the full proposal is necessary. For the climate action sub-programme, there is a single-stage application process. The submission of full proposals is necessary by October 2020.
LIFE is a programme launched by the European Commission and coordinated by the Environment and Climate Action Directorates-General. The Commission has delegated the implementation of many components of the LIFE programme to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).Read More
Dear Water Europe friends,
We are in the midst of a global pandemic that affects us all and makes all other topics look of minor importance. Still though, while we are all in the same boat, it’s crucial to continue our work undaunted to emerge through these challenging times with the minimal impact possible.
To adjust to the demands of social distancing and reduce the speed and impact of the virus, the Water Europe board unanimously decided to cancel all WE events in the period March‐May, including Water Market Europe 2020, International Water Dialogues Days 2020 and to re‐evaluate the situation regarding Water Innovation Europe 2020 by the 7th of April. In the meantime, the Water Europe staff is working remotely since the 16th of March. Through digital tools that allow the team to connect, exchange and support members, Water Europe’s activities go on normally, enabling us to keep our services at their highest level and implement effectively our strategy the next period of time.
On the 18th of March, the WE Board met online to welcome 9 new members and discuss amongst others the new WE position paper on a Water-related Human Capital for the European Green Deal, the European Water Alliance manifesto on building a European Water-Smart Society and Circular Economy that will be used to convince different European Commissioners of the importance of water for their portfolios. Next day, the WE WGs moved ahead with their scheduled meetings via teleconference. A special thanks goes to all our Working Group leaders for demonstrating, once again, their resilience and commitment, with their excellent preparatory work and high-level discussions during the meetings.
Same time, we are also going ahead with the preparations of our new publication that will match the WE Water Vision with the European Green Deal, the SDGs, and Horizon Europe (HEU). This is a key publication as it will form the basis for the WE advocacy for water in the HEU work programmes for the next 7 years. In the context of our International Water Dialogues programme, now, Water Europe is strengthening its collaboration with the World Water Council, after receiving the WWC governors at the Water Europe premises last February. We foresee many interesting activities coming up, so stay tuned!
This March was very different from anything we experienced before but there has been one day that calls for everyone’s attention. On the 22nd of March, we celebrated the World Water Day which was dedicated this year to ‘Water and Climate Change’. We cannot afford to experience all the effects of climate change before we realise the value of water for our society and economy. Science, applied research and on the ground solutions and technologies are necessary to increase water efficiency and to make our cities resilient against climate change events.
The UN World Water Report 2020 released that day encourages Europe’s approach within the framework of the European Green Deal and clearly shows that Water Europe is on the right track fostering a holistic approach of the sector by gathering the full value-chain in its activities to achieve the transition to a Water Smart Society. Even stuck in our homes, in the middle of this crisis, we can still do the groundwork for this vital transition. This is the silver lining we can all focus on, as everyone has a role to play here.
Please stay safe and healthy and while socially distancing, let’s all remain connected!Read More
Water security represents one of the greatest challenges that businesses, investors, governments and citizens will face in the upcoming decades
80% of wastewater continues to be discharged untreated, adding to already problematic levels of water pollution, says Mirjam Wolfrum, Director, Policy Engagement, CDP Europe
What are CDP’s mission and activities?
CDP wants to see a thriving economy that works for people and planet in the long term. To achieve this, we focus investors, policymakers, companies, cities, states and regions on taking urgent action to build a truly sustainable economy.
CDP Europe is part of the global CDP non-profit network, which drives companies and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Globally, over 8.400 companies with over 50% of global market capitalization disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2019, including more than 2.100 European companies representing approximately 76% of the European market capitalization. This is in addition to the over 950 cities, states and regions globally who disclosed – including more than 215 in Europe – making CDP’s platform one of the richest sources of information globally on how companies and governments are driving environmental change.
The risks and opportunities of a water secure future must be embedded within business, financial markets, and policy decision making. Corporate transparency plays a vital role in driving the transition to a water secure future by encouraging a desire among key private sector actors and their supply chains to grow differently. As the market matures, CDP continues to raise the bar on corporate water performance, to support the systemic changes needed to decouple companies’ production and consumption from the depletion of water resources.
What do you consider as the key challenges of water risk management? How do you see companies dealing with water risks?
Water security represents one of the greatest challenges that businesses, investors, governments and citizens will face in the upcoming decades. We continue to manage water resources inefficiently across all sectors and some 80% of wastewater continues to be discharged untreated, adding to already problematic levels of water pollution.
The key actors necessary to achieve the EU Water goals are companies in the most impactful industries, such as food, energy, industrials, textile and materials. These industries including chemicals, pharmaceuticals and mining sectors account for and wield influence of the world’s freshwater use and pollution. The scale of dependence exposes the risks that these businesses will face in a world with greater water scarcity and degraded freshwater quality. A majority (62%) of companies from these sectors disclosing to the CDP water security questionnaire in 2019 stated that their business models are highly dependent on water availability and quality. 78% stated that the availability of good quality freshwater is important or vital to their direct business operations and 67% reported that the same is true indirectly in areas outside their operational control.
A high number (61%) of reporting companies identified water-related risks in their direct operations and/or in their value chain. The water-related risks reported by these companies have potential high financial impact and could occur in direct operations or the wider value chain, like physical impacts, particularly water scarcity or droughts and flooding.
Across 193 European businesses reporting to CDP on water last year, the total financial value at risk could reach up to €14 billion. A number of responding companies also reported difficulties in providing a standalone figure to quantify their water risk, suggesting that the true financial impact could be far higher.
However, out of the 193 companies disclosing, 74% reported water-related business opportunities, mainly in the area of water efficiency. The majority of responders stated that they have a publicly available water policy setting out a clear position on water management. All responding companies have a water-related target and goal in place, most with targets at several levels. In total, over 340 targets were reported, over 100 of which were in water withdrawals and consumption. These targets and goals are largely aligned with the achievement of the UN´s SDG 6 on Clear Water and Sanitation. Some companies have also implemented internal water pricing mechanisms or water valuation practices.
Addressing more complex water risks and opportunities can pose a particular challenge, as issues frequently centre around an entire river basin relied upon by multiple governments, communities and businesses. The scope of action for individual actors can be limited. Involving all stakeholders provides multiple benefits for society and the planet: improving freshwater availability, taking pressure off groundwater reserves, and reducing pollution can benefit the health, wellbeing and wider economic success of local communities and ecosystems. Collaboration is key, and CDP is pleased to work with Water Europe to address these issues and provide necessary data in support of improved policymaking.
CDP recently published its A List for 2019, naming the world’s most pioneering companies leading on environmental transparency and performance. What have been the highlights and lessons learnt on water security from this year’s list?
In 2019, there were 93 European corporates on CDP’s A Lists for climate change, water security and forests. Between them, 114 A scores were awarded: 85 A List awards for climate change, 23 for water security, and 6 for forests. On water security, the 23 European companies represent one third (32%) of the total awarded globally.
In recognition of the changes needed, CDP raised the bar for corporate leadership on water security in 2018. For a place on the water security A List, companies must now show that they regularly monitor and manage water aspects relevant to their activities through the whole value chain, that they have regular and comprehensive water risk assessment procedures that are grounded in the river basin, and a solid understanding of how water issues could impact their financial performance. At the same time, they should show that they have implemented a genuine strategic response to these risks, i.e. a company’s governance mechanisms and long-term business and financial strategies must be informed by and working to address water security issues.
While 23 European companies were able to meet these higher standards, the vast majority were not. However, more companies are taking actions and achieving higher scores. The increase in the number of responding companies – up from 183 to 193 in 2019 – and the growth in A scores from 11 to 23 last year is a visible sign of year-on-year progress.
Businesses report that they see a high financial value at risk due to water-related risks and that the cost of inaction could be significantly more expensive than the costs of action. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to integrate water strategies into their decision-making. Companies will not achieve the transformations needed until water is meaningfully embedded into corporate governance.
The European Commission published the European Green Deal a couple of months ago. What are your views about it and how do you think it can contribute to fostering green finance?
The new European Commission’s Green Deal sets out an ambitious agenda to place the EU on track for ‘climate neutrality’ by 2050. Key elements include legislation to bring the goal into law and ensure policy coherence with the target. The European Commission has estimated that overall investment in 2030 needs to be between €176 billion and €290 billion a year higher than it would be under current policies.
Recognizing this investment challenge, the EIB recently agreed to phase out financing for unabated fossil fuels and become the world’s first ‘climate bank’, and the Commission has proposed to dedicate at least 25 percent of the EU budget to climate as part of its European Green Deal Investment Plan, which aims to mobilize €1 trillion of investment over 10 years. Most of the low-carbon investment needed must come from the private sector, so the extent to which European companies’ low-carbon investment plans are compatible with this objective is a critical question. CDP’s reporting data shows how companies are responding to the low-carbon investment challenge and provides insights into the specific low-carbon initiatives into which they are investing. With this data, it is possible to estimate whether current corporate investment patterns are consistent with the net-zero goal.
The Green Deal also identifies the need for wide-ranging reforms to the European Taxation Directive and the taxation of international transport fuels, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and fossil fuel subsidies in order to ensure better carbon price signals. Policies and investment would be targeted at the circular economy and low-carbon transport and energy infrastructure. A raft of accompanying reforms to help mobilize low-carbon finance and investment are also anticipated, as part of the EU’s Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth and the European Green Deal Investment Plan.
The ways in which businesses affect freshwater resources is enabled by banks and institutional investors. In the absence of effective global corporate governance, commercial banks and their institutional investors can offer unique incentives for change by ensuring their investment and lending practices drive improvements in water security. European banks hold an amount of €42.89 trillion of total assets, which can be leveraged to drive water stewardship in companies’ business models by integrating water security in lending criteria. According to a recent CDP survey, global investor awareness of these issues is low. Only 22% of the responding financial institutions consider water security as an important issue for their institution. However, their investee companies are seeing major risks. It means that banks and other investors often fail to undertake adequate due diligence on their lending as it relates to water security.
CDP’s simple theory of change is that the disclosure of quality data leads to smarter decisions and informs investors, companies and governments of the actions they need to take. The process of annual disclosure brings new insights to markets and policymakers, based on data that never existed before. And it allows the companies and the financial markets to innovate in the way that they must meet the climate challenge, It is transparency about these corporate strategies that helps investors to drive capital towards the businesses with serious plans, who are investing in and leading the transition to business models which are low carbon, and not reliant on unsustainable water use. It is CDP that ensures this data is made comparable and delivered to global markets.Read More
CDP is hosting a webinar on ‘Introduction to CDP Water Security Disclosure’ on Tuesday, April 28 at 16:00 CEST. Water risks, both from direct operations and throughout the value chain are becoming increasingly important for companies and investors alike.
Join this webinar to understand the main water risks facing businesses, investors’ growing need for corporate water data and importance of CDP water security disclosure. The session is designed for both new reporting companies and those interested in understanding updates to the questionnaire, helping you to make the most out of CDP reporting.Read More
This year, the new UN Water report 2020 focuses on “Water and Climate Change”. The institution aims to connect the water and climate change communities about the opportunities in the water sector to tackle the challenges of the climate change regarding water quality and quantity, mitigation of extreme events, infrastructure and governance.
The report released for the World Water Day (22/03) supports a cross-cutting and holistic approach stressing out several connections with other sectors such as industry, research & innovation, health, human settlement, food. It also encourages Europe’s approach within the framework of the European Green Deal and clearly shows that Water Europe is on the right track, fostering a holistic approach of the sector by gathering the full value-chain in its activities to achieve a Water Smart Society.
We welcome this validation of our approach by the UNESCO, supporting this transparent, multi-stakeholder approach to water governance in the context of climate change. The challenges for the R&I in the water sector must be tackled collectively with the local communities and businesses, hence demonstrating the importance of the Living Labs as a powerful tool to run research and innovation, raise awareness and educate people to stimulate the uptake of validated, new and existing technologies.
Stressing the KPIs for each region in the world, UNESCO encourages Europe to focus on:
Enhancing water efficiency and water saving strategies, particularly through reuse of water;
Monitoring and data sharing on water quantity and quality with a digital water;
Improving coherence of climate change adaptation and water-related disaster risk reduction;
Attracting funding from multiple sources (e.g. international, national and private).
Increasing cooperation in transboundary basins for technical and financial assistance and open up new opportunities
To read the whole UN World Water Report, please click here.
Why is it important to have a new Working Group dedicated to the theme of ‘Water & Energy’?
The interlinkage between Energy and Water is reflected in several domains and services, across the water cycle. Traditionally Energy and Water are interlinked components of the wider water-energy-food Nexus. The water sector can produce energy (e.g. hydropower), but also is a major energy consumer. Energy is being consumed in the water sector for water treatment, water supply, water distribution, waste water collection and waste water treatment.
Energy is also needed for irrigation (e.g. groundwater pumping, sprinklers) and industrial use of water (e.g. cooling), while both sectors are critical infrastructures. The links and relations of the two industries are also reflected in the context of circular economy, a current and on growing field of interest for innovation and technologies, where energy is being produced out of waste water treatment processes. Given the strong interlinkages of the two sectors, it is very important to have a WG on these themes.
What are the main priorities of the Working Group?
What are you currently working on and what are you expecting to deliver within the upcoming year?
The Water and Energy Working group is preparing a report in the form of a white paper on energy optimisation for water systems and the water industry. It is a domain with several applications in the water sector, prevalent in the operational management of water distribution systems, waste water systems, but also for irrigation systems.
In the same context, we are looking into the technologies involved in renewable and zero-emission energy (e.g. geothermal energy), pointing out the gaps and needs for a larger scale development implementation of these technologies. For the latter, we already submitted to the WE management group in December 2019 a proposal for a call needed in the domain of geothermal energy applications. It was a pleasure that in the most recent call by the EC, (FET-PROACT-07-2020, which opened on March 26) geothermal energy was included in one of the calls.
L.S. (Lydia) Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia, PhD Meng, is Watershare Programme Director- Senior Researcher at KWR Water Research Institute.Read More
Last month, the SPIRE-SAIS project officially started its activities. On the 6 and 7 of February, the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP) hosted the project’s kick-off meeting in Brussels with the participation of all partners.
SAIS stands for “Skills Alliance for Industrial Symbiosis’ and its objective is to develop a blueprint for a European Intensive Industries Skills Agenda and Strategy for an ongoing and short-termed implementation of new skills demands concerning cross-sectoral circular economy.
Against the background of multi-faced, cumulative and constantly changing economic challenges and digital development, human resources policy could only be successful by integrating all the relevant actors and stakeholders. Economic, digital and technological developments, as well as increasing energy efficiency and environmental demands, present the European (and global) Industry with many challenges. The need to continuously update the qualification, knowledge and skill profile of the workforce is not least of these challenges.
This new project aims to realise an industry driven and coordinated sustainable cross-sectoral blueprint for a Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency (SPIRE) addressing its recent and future challenges in immediate and enduring ways.
A Blueprint strategy for human capital development through a Cross-Sector Skills Alliance on Energy Intensive Industries (EII) will be developed within a (social) innovation process involving a broad range of key stakeholders from the eight sectors of the SPIRE public-private partnership. The alliance of related sector associations or technology platforms, training providers, and research partners is characterised by a huge competence based on a long list of projects for energy efficiency, industrial symbiosis (IS) and related Vocational Education and Training (VET).
To learn more about SPIRE-SAIS project, please click here.
As a result of the current coronavirus pandemic and the necessity to better understand, monitor and respond to the situation, Prof. Rosina Girones, Research Group Leader at the University of Barcelona, and Prof. Gertjan Medema, Principle Microbiologist at KWR, will share insights on the current research and outlook for the whole water sector.
KWR microbiologists have conducted investigations at various sewage treatment plants in the Netherlands. They think that the SARS-CoV-2 screening of sewage water can be used as a tool to measure the virus circulation in a population (e.g. a city or a smaller municipality). If they can further substantiate and validate the method, the water sector will have a tool that provides valuable additional information about the spread of the virus in the population. Read more about the current research here.
Introduction to the topic by Prof. Dragan Savic FReng, CEO KWR
Prof. Rosina Girones, Research Group Leader at the University of Barcelona
Prof. Gertjan Medema, Principle Microbiologist at KWR
Organised by: Lydia Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia and Lisa Andrews, KWR.
To participate, register here.Read More
The project WaterProtect is organising a webinar on ‘Sustainable drinking water management & farming’ on 2 April 2020. The webinar is replacing the WaterProtect’s third policy conference of the work package on Integrated Policy Support, which had to be canceled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19.
The webinar will showcase examples of local policies, initiatives and partnerships for drinking water management involving farming.
About this Event
European dialogue around sustainability of the farming sector is now marked by the EU cycle of policy reforms and implicitly by the discussions of the role, scope and synergies between agriculture and water policies.
The implementation of these policies and the effectiveness in producing real results is very much influenced by the initiatives and implementation mechanisms at the local level.
The results of this webinar, integrated with the results of other regional conferences already organised by WaterProtect, will define EU and national policy recommendations for drinking water management involving farming systems and land management.
- Session I: Legal and policy initiatives towards better integration of activities within the catchment management
- Session II: Initiatives driven by industry to establish partnerships between water managers and farmers
- Session III: Initiatives promoted by NGOs to stimulate cooperation between water management
- Session IV: Initiatives promoted by farmers toward better protection of water environment
To participate, register here before March 31st.
On 19 March 2020, Water Europe Working Groups hosted their scheduled meetings via video conference to discuss their annual plans and arrange the next steps of their work.
In the morning, the first round of Working Group (WG) meetings took place with an organised joint meeting of the Working Groups Water Security and Urban Water Pollution, the meeting of the WG Water & Αgrifood, as well as the WG Water and Industry. The latter one has produced a new vision/mission document with an action plan.
Among the most important issues of the WG at the moment have been the engagement and participation of more industrial contacts in the Working Group. In addition to this, the WG is working on a paper for industrial water reuse titled ‘The worth of water’.
The second round of the Working Groups featured the Working Groups Human Capital and Water and Energy, while in the third and last round, the Working Groups Water & ΙCT and Water Distribution Infrastructure met virtually.
For more updates on our Working Groups’ discussions and developments, please stay tuned.
For more information on WE WGs, please contact Andrea Rubini at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More