Water Knowledge Europe 2021 Autumn Edition is coming back in its physical format on November 9-10 to guide you through the Horizon Europe (HEU) Work Programmes 2021-2022 and offer you the information you need for the preparation of winning project proposals.
Over the past 2 years, we have worked hard to keep Water Knowledge Europe event running virtually during the pandemic. Now the wait is over and we will provide you a physical and digital experience to guide you through the EU funding Programmes. Are you curious to knwo where the event will take place? Watch this video to discover it.
🔹 Learn and discuss the upcoming HEU work programme 2023-2024
🔹 Present your project ideas
🔹 Meet your future project partners from across industry and research within the digital B2B meetings and informal networking in Brussels
🔹 Interact with the speakers during the live sessions.
Smart water management across all water cycles can lead to considerable energy savings, but how much? For more on how to measure these energy savings and co2 emissions reduction, join the #EUSEW2021 session, as part of the EU Sustainable Week, happening on the 27th of October.
The session will propose a discussion on how to quantify energy savings and related emission reductions from smart water management and water efficiency measures. Water and energy are highly interdependent (‘water-energy nexus’): energy is needed to abstract, distribute, heat, cool, treat and desalinate water while water is also needed for energy production and cooling systems. In the EU, the water and wastewater sectors account for 3.5% of electricity consumption.
To register for the event, please click here. Water Europe will be there joining the event and more updates will follow soon.Read More
The European Court of Auditors recently published the report “Sustainable water use in agriculture: CAP funds more likely to promote greater rather than more efficient water use” to assess the impact of agriculture on the quantitative status of water.
Agriculture affects both water quality and water quantity. Diffuse pollution from fertilisers or pesticide reduce water quality whereas water abstraction in coastal areas can cause saltwater intrusion in the groundwater.
Agriculture depends on water availability. Irrigation helps to shield farmers from irregular rainfall, and to increase the viability, yield and quality of the crops, but is a significant drain on water resources. While around 6 % of EU farmland was irrigated in 2016, the sector was responsible for 24 % of all water abstraction.
As agriculture is both a major user of freshwater and one of the first sectors to be impacted when water is scarce, they assessed to what extent EU policies, namely the CAP and water policy, promote the sustainable use of water in agriculture.
Excessive nitrates in water are harmful to both human health and ecosystems, causing oxygen depletion and eutrophication. Where national authorities and farmers have cleaned up waters, it has had a positive impact on drinking water supply and biodiversity, and on the sectors such as fisheries and tourism that depend on them. Nevertheless, excessive fertilisation remains a problem in many parts of the EU.
Nitrate concentrations have fallen in both surface and groundwater in the EU compared to the situation prior to the adoption of the Nitrates Directive in 1991. However, the new report reveals that little progress has been made over the last decade and nutrient pollution from agriculture is still a serious concern for many Member States.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans, said: “The implementation of the Nitrates Directive over the last 30 years has undoubtedly increased water quality overall in the EU. We also see that real efforts to switch to sustainable methods are paying off. However, the pace of change is not enough to prevent damage to human health and preserve fragile ecosystems. In line with the European Green Deal, more urgent action is now needed to achieve a sustainable agriculture and protect our precious water supply.”
Over the 2016-2019, across Member States, 14.1% of groundwater still exceeded the nitrates concentration limit set for drinking water. According to the findings, water reported as eutrophic in the EU includes 81% of marine waters, 31% of coastal waters, 36% of rivers and 32% of lakes.
The Commission will act to improve compliance with the Nitrates Directive, which is a prerequisite for reaching the European Green Deal objective of reducing nutrient losses by at least 50% by 2030. This requires strengthened measures in most Member States at national and regional level.Read More
Over the last year, Water Europe has organized Water Knowledge Europe in a series of virtual events to keep everyone connected and informed, despite the pandemic. The wait is over now, Water Knowledge Europe event is finally coming up in its physical format, on November 9-10 at the BluePoint Center in Brussels.
Save the date and get ready for a 2-day event brimming with sessions and workshops dedicated to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022. The event will be a great opportunity to learn more about the upcoming Calls of the 2022 HEU Programme and help you prepare the best project consortia. More info will be coming up soon.
This month, the NEXOGENESIS project officially kicked-off. On the 20th and the 21st of September, IHE Delft, the project’s coordinator hosted the digital kick-off meeting of the project with the participation of more than 60 people from all partners.
Over the next 4 years, the Horizon2020 funded project aims at supporting the development of policies that manages resources effectively. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are among tools to be used to assess the water-energy-food-ecosystem (WEFE) nexus in the new project.
Water, energy, food and ecosystems form an interconnected nexus that is central in providing resources and services needed to sustain human activity. The nexus is affected by changes in climate, precipitation, and land cover, as well as economic development, agriculture and urban growth. Currently, humans are extracting resources at a faster rate than they are replaced, thereby deepening resource and ecological deficits.
The complex water-energy-food nexus is poorly understood, and ecosystems are often not considered as an integral part of the system. In addition, policies for each sector are often developed in isolation, with insufficient consideration of the impact on the WEFE nexus. This poses a challenge that stakeholders, policy makers and academics engaged in NEXOGENESIS will help address by developing and validating a coherent cross-sectoral policy-making framework that addresses climate and socioeconomic change, as well as stakeholder behaviour and transboundary issues.
“With four case studies in Europe and one in southern Africa, strong stakeholder engagement and output validation, NEXOGENESIS is expected to contribute enhanced cooperation, improved policy making processes and better policies,” said project leader Janez Susnik, IHE Delft Senior Lecturer in Water Resources Management.
The project is coordinated by IHE Delft, bringing together a consortium of 20 partners, who will support the development of policies that address the nexus interconnectedness at several levels to manage resources effectively and avoid conflicts between users. For more information, please click here.Read More
Water Europe position paper on the Taxonomy Report on the technical screening criteria – an opportunity to foster the benefits towards a Water-Smart-Society
Water Europe has released its latest position paper titled ‘Taxonomy Report: The technical screening criteria – an opportunity to foster the benefits towards a Water-Smart-Society’. The EU taxonomy is a classification system, establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. It aims at contributing to the EU’s climate and energy targets for 2030, the objectives of the European green deal and the directing of investments towards sustainable projects and activities. The EU Taxonomy Regulation establishes six environmental objectives:
– Climate Change mitigation
– Climate Change adaptation
– Sustainable use and protection of water and maritime resources
– Transition to a circular economy
– Pollution prevention and control
– Protection and restauration of biodiversity and ecosystems
Water Europe gave feedback on the screening criteria for drinking water, wastewater, phosphorus recovery and calling for a new chapter on professional services related to industrial wastewater.
To download the position paper, click here.Read More
You were recently elected as Water Europe board member of college B ‘Researchers & Technology Developers’- Could you tell us what drives you personally to have this role at Water Europe? What do you want to achieve?
Actually, I did not mean to be elected for the sake of it but rather to make substantive contributions to the Board from the Board. I am truly honoured to have been elected by my fellow college B members. I would like to contribute to further reaching out within the EU and beyond, to maximising the impact of Water Europe, further pushing the idea of the value of water (framed in such a way that can be seen as compelling by most of the population). I also believe there is no such thing as good science or good policy as separate elements: science is good, among other things, when addresses societal challenges, and policy is good also when is based on scientific evidence. Helping build that bridge is part of what I would like to do on behalf of college B members.
Representing college B, which ones do you consider the key challenges and the most burning needs of your college and how will you contribute to addressing these in the context of Water Europe?
The diversity of challenges faced by college B members is two-fold: on one side, it has to do with the object of their research, technological development, and innovation (since there are specificities as to water); on the other, it’s but an illustration of the challenges faced by RTD and innovation systems EU wide. With regards to the latter, there is a clear challenge to connect their work with wider audiences, not just for the dissemination of outputs and the diffusion of technologies but also to be able to upscale innovations. There is also a challenge linked to operating in a global context. These institutions are often faced with rising costs and shifting funding, which also poses some difficulties. There is also leeway for further collaboration between research and technological centres and industry, on one side, and the public on the other. Specifically, regarding water resources management and water services delivery, there is a clear need to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the unprecedented fiscal stimulus stemming from Next Generation EU and its recovery and resilience facility, thus connecting digitalization and sustainability efforts in an inclusive way.
How important do you consider the Water-Oriented Living Labs for testing and validating research and innovation results and what role can they play in a future water-smart society?
Living labs do offer a great opportunity to explore technical issues whilst assessing the economic and social implications of different solutions. They may create the right conditions to properly understand the underlying incentives and drivers for collective actions. They can be a fertile space to enable innovation and ownership of the outcomes as well as addressing water governance in its wider sense: mastering complexity (hence fostering policy coordination, the uptake of innovation – not just from a technological viewpoint, redesigning incentives, and institutional setups, maximizing industrial symbiosis, etc.
A water-smart society is a society where the true value of water is recognised and realised. Based on your experience, which are the obstacles we need to overcome and which actions shall we prioritise to make this happen?
First, I believe we should move beyond too prescriptive approaches and tautological arguments and cliches, no matter how valid they might be. For instance, stating that water is valuable is almost meaningless; showing how valuable it is is not. Further, we should recognise that is not about eliciting the value of water or not – we always value water, almost in every individual and social decision we make. Therefore, the challenge is about highlighting this value, to disclose it in a transparent and accountable way. In addition, it is of chief importance to connect water policy goals to wider social and economic development goals. Water (and water management) are far from being an issue for the so-called water community: expanding beyond the boundaries of the so-called water sector is essential. It is also critical to understand that we, as a society, have good reasons (incentives) to make very bad decisions but also good reasons to make things better. Understanding the former and make the best out of the latter is part of what needs to be promoted.
What are the main priorities of the Slovenian Presidency and what is the role of water in realising them?
The main priorities of Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU (PSEU) are the reinforcement of the EU immunity, the increase of EU strategical autonomy and encouragement of green and digital transition with and for the new generation. Therefore, water, as the main life source, is at the centre of pursuance of the mentioned priorities.
The European Union is committed to achieving the new climate target by 2030. What are the actions and measures you consider necessary for reaching this goal?
The EU Climate Law is an important milestone towards the new 2030 climate target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55%. To reach it, it is important to take immediate action. We should strive for an ambitious, but also fair and realistic agreement if we want to maintain climate neutrality by 2050 as an achievable goal. This also means that all the EU Member States at all levels, systems and sub-systems must commit to implementing policies, measures and activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors. Furthermore, we must not forget to create a climate-resilient society that also takes into account the most vulnerable households.
The slogan of the Slovenian Presidency is “Together. Resilient. Europe.” How can the role of water be recognised as a key enabler for strengthening the resilience of the EU and facilitating its transition to a strong post-COVID Europe?
The slogan, PSEU “Together. Immunity. Europe”, offers a strong basis to increase cooperation of responsible management of water, coastal and sea sources on local, governmental, cross-border, regional and EU level. The health of the population is strongly connected with the quality of water supply, food production, recreation and tourism. Due to the changes in the dynamics of the water circle, the areas where the lives of the people are threatened by the water, are expanding. The governments and European Commission are addressed to strengthen the dialogues on local and cross-border levels for the implementation of the adjusting measures, coordinated on the cross-border levels, to strengthen the immunity of EU and support the transmission into strong “Post Covid EU”. Therefore, the “bottom-up and top-down approach” for the preparation and pursuance of RBMP, ICZM and MSP must be strengthened.
A paradigm shift towards a Water-Smart society, where the true value of water is recognised and realised is a must to ensure a lasting recovery of the EU. Which ones do you consider as the strongest tools and instruments of the EU in its effort to achieve this goal?
We are aware that the shift to the paradigm “Pametna družba za ravnanje z vodo/Water Smart Society” to help the European recuperation means that the value of water must be recognized and considered. Water is an ecosystem, a cross-border source and medium, which has to be considered by the new tools and instruments. For the preparation of plans (RBPMP/ICZM/MSP) of the new generation and to provide a fair and effective solution, water cycle, water balance and ecosystem services have to be considered. This kind of approach offers a great opportunity to integrate the young population (digitalisation) and with the activation of “the bottom up” approach cooperation, noticeably increases the pursuance of the adjusting measures on a local scale and creates new job opportunities.Read More
Dear Water Europe family,
What would have been standard news representing business as usual, is likely to become in hindsight an important milestone in Water Europe’s history. Water Europe is getting ready for its next Board meeting, happening at the end of October in Athens. The good news and milestone are connected to the fact that this will be the first post-COVID presential meeting! As I have stated so many times, for an organization like ours based on collaboration the opportunity to meet and interact in person is essential.
Among the most important items on the agenda will be the renewal of its Vision Leadership Teams (VLTs) for the term 2021-2023. The Vision Leadership Teams (VLTs) are the strategic think tanks of Water Europe that have as a main mission to drive the progressive implementation of the WE Water Vision “The Value of Water” and the achievement of a European Water-Smart Society.
Also, Water Knowledge Europe in its 2021 autumn edition, this time dedicated to the Horizon Europe R&I Programme, has been scheduled for 9-10 November and our firm intention is to make this also a physical edition of Water Knowledge Europe with an afternoon session, networking dinner, and morning session. The Water Europe Working Groups will remain digital.
Water Europe has recently released two position papers on “Recognizing the Value of Water in the new EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles” and on “National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs): An opportunity for a Water-Smart Society”. Water Europe is now publishing our view on water within the ‘Taxonomy report on the technical screening criteria’. In its objective to scale up sustainable investment, the EU taxonomy must consider the benefits to foster a European Water-Smart Society in which the economic activities prevent water scarcity and pollution of water and deploy water circular processes, making them water-smart and sustainable. The taxonomy report is an excellent opportunity to have an impact and realize our Vision.
Further on Water Europe´s Advocacy programme, and following the Water Innovation Europe 2021 conference, Water Europe established meetings with the French General Secretariat for European Affairs (SGAE) and the permanent representations of Italy and Denmark to share and discuss the event’s conclusions. With regards to the next presidential trio of the European Commission, Water Europe exchanged views with France on water challenges, concerning mainly agriculture and the environment. The meetings with Italy and Denmark revolved around issues regarding qualitative and quantitative water management. Follow-up meetings will be scheduled in the coming period.
In this edition of our newsletter, we are happy to feature an interview with Andrej Vizjak, Slovenian Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning who talks to us about the priorities of the EU Slovenian Presidency, the new climate target, and the transition to a post-COVID society, as well as Europe’s strongest tools to realise a Water-Smart Society.
We are glad to steer towards “back to normal” again, cautious and conscient that COVID is still out there, the virus has brought us good and bad things, as well as new ways to work and to be more efficient! Being now able to start to meet again in person can only add to the experience gained. It will be a pleasure, as usual, to accompany you along this journey!Read More