The European Commission invites you to participate in an online survey to share your views on a stronger European innovation ecosystem and the ways to boost innovation cohesion in Europe. Deadline for submissions is 7 September 2021 at 17:00 CET.
This survey is part of a broad consultation by the European Commission aimed at gathering the views from stakeholders. These include ministries, regional and local authorities, venture capital companies and business angels, universities and research organisations, businesses, SMEs, and start-ups, NGOs civil society organisations and individuals in shaping a robust European innovation ecosystem.
-Share your views here, and find out more about the survey.
-Deadline for submissions is 7 September 2021 at 17:00 CET.
On July 29, the European Commission has published new technical guidance on climate-proofing of infrastructure projects for the period 2021-2027.
In the light of the alarming report, published by the IPCC, the guidance will help mainstream climate considerations in future investment and development of infrastructure projects from buildings, network infrastructure to a range of built systems and assets. That way, institutional and private European investors will be able to make informed decisions on projects deemed compatible with the Paris Agreement and the EU climate objectives.
The guidance adopted will thus help the EU deliver the European Green Deal, implement requirements under the European Climate Law and make EU spending greener. It is aligned with a greenhouse gas emission reduction pathway of -55% net emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050; follows the ‘energy efficiency first’ and ‘do no significant harm’ principles; and fulfils requirements set out in the legislation for several EU funds such as InvestEU, Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund (CF) and the Just Transition Fund (JTF).
The impacts of climate change are already having repercussions for assets and infrastructure with long lifetimes and these impacts are set to intensify in the future. It is therefore essential to clearly identify – and consequently to invest in – infrastructure that is prepared for a climate-neutral and climate-resilient future.
Climate-proofing is a process that integrates climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into the development of infrastructure projects. The technical guidance adopted today sets out common principles and practices for the identification, classification and management of physical climate risks when planning, developing, executing and monitoring infrastructure projects and programmes.
The process is divided into two pillars (mitigation, adaptation) and two phases (screening, detailed analysis) and the documentation and verification of climate-proofing forms is considered an essential part of the rationale for making investment decisions.
– Infrastructure is a broad concept which includes: network infrastructure crucial for the functioning of today’s economy and society, notably water (e.g. water supply pipelines, reservoirs, waste water treatment facilities); other physical assets in a wider range of policy areas such as water.
– The resources available in the Member States to develop climate-resilient infrastructure have been mapped in a study undertaken by the Commission and published in 2018. The study uses seven criteria (data availability, guidance, methodologies, tools, design standards, system and legal framework, institutional capacity) and covers transport, broadband, urban development, energy, and water and waste sectors.Read More
Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report, during the press conference, for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.
The report is based on 14,000 scientific publications assessed from 65 countries. It already stressed every regions facing increasing changes with a faster warming. “Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.” Going beyond the challenge of CO2 reduction, the report – in its chapter 8 – stresses the current impacts of climate change on water and the future challenges:
– “Modifications of Earth’s energy budget by anthropogenic radiative forcing drive substantial and widespread changes in the global water cycle.
– A warmer climate increases moisture transport into weather systems, which, on average, makes wet seasons and events wetter (high confidence).
– Warming over land drives an increase in atmospheric evaporative demand and the severity of droughts (high confidence).
– Human-caused climate change has driven detectable changes in the global water cycle since the mid-20th century (high confidence)
– Greenhouse gas forcing has driven increased contrasts in precipitation amounts between wet and dry seasons and weather regimes over tropical land areas (medium confidence), with a detectable precipitation increase in the northern high latitudes (high confidence).
– Anthropogenic aerosols have driven detectable large-scale water cycle changes since at least the mid-20th century (high confidence)
– Land-use change and water extraction for irrigation have influenced local and regional responses in the water cycle (high confidence)
– Southern Hemisphere storm tracks and associated precipitation have shifted polewards since the 1970s, especially in the austral summer and autumn (high confidence)”
Paired with the WRI projected 56% deficit in water supply relative to demand by 2030, the future water cycle changes, directly linked to the global warming, confirm the necessity to build a Water-Smart Society to protect, maintain and make resilient our water infrastructures to ensure water availability for all with the right quality:
– “Without large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, global warming is projected to cause substantial changes in the water cycle at both global and regional scales (high confidence).
– Increased evapotranspiration due to growing atmospheric water demand will decrease soil moisture over the Mediterranean, southwestern North America, south Africa, southwestern South America, and southwestern Australia (high confidence).
– Water cycle variability and extremes are projected to increase faster than average changes in most regions of the world and under all emission scenarios (high confidence).
– There are contrasting projections in monsoon precipitation, with increases in more regions than decreases (medium confidence).
– Precipitation associated with extratropical storms and atmospheric rivers will increase in the future in most regions (high confidence).
– The seasonality of precipitation, water availability and streamflow will increase with global warming over the Amazon (medium confidence) and in the subtropics, especially in the Mediterranean and southern Africa (high confidence)”.Read More
A new OECD vision aims at coordinating and country efforts and foster international co-operation among G20 members
This Policy Guidance, prepared by the OECD at the request of the Italian G20 Presidency, is intended for G20 Leaders, as well as Economic, Finance and Environment Ministries. Based on insights from across the G20 membership, this report presents possible elements of a common G20 policy vision on resource efficiency and the circular economy for different levels of government. It is expected that the vision would help to coordinate and align individual country efforts and foster international co-operation among G20 members.
• National and sub-national action to advance towards a more resource efficient and circular economy.
• Mainstream resource efficiency and circular economy principles into domestic policy.
• Take a phased approach from waste to resource (eg. ensure that hazardous substances in waste are managed in an environmentally sound manner).
• Fully leverage the role of cities in advancing towards a more resource efficient and circular economy (eg; cities have competencies in water supply and sanitation. Cities can enforce regulation on commercial and residential buildings and operate public buildings to improve water and energy efficiency. Cities also commonly control water management infrastructures and are well placed to increase water efficiency).
• International cooperation and coordination to advance a more resource efficient and circular economy: Support businesses in their value chain management efforts towards improved resource efficiency, Alleviate barriers and investment in environmental goods and services to ensure the diffusion of best available environmental technologies, Harmonize environmental labels and information schemes, Improve data, indicators and accounts on resource efficiency and waste, Mainstream resource efficiency and material recovery into official development assistance more systematically
Other elements related to water:
⇒ Environmental impacts of material use: acidification (water), eutrophication, freshwater toxicity.
⇒ The circular economy is systemic by nature and as such, policy-making requires a holistic approach across all sectors. Almost all the respondents of the OECD survey identified the waste sector as key for the circular economy (98%), followed by the built environment (75%), land use and spatial planning (70%), food and beverages and water and sanitation (65%), amongst others.
⇒ Circular economy strategies and projects in surveyed cities are often based on experimentation and pilots, allowing to test new technologies, foster innovation and raise awareness. For example, in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) the Home of Innovation Demonstration Villa Project explores the construction of a sustainable dwelling leading to a 40% reduction in energy and potable water use (U20, 2020).
⇒ The circular economy can play an important role in reducing energy and water demand of existing buildings.
⇒ The operation phase can include circular solutions for the use of renewable energy and new technologies to improve resource efficiency in buildings. For example, the City of Paris (France) recovers heat from wastewater and uses it for the heating and cooling in public buildings. Paris also developed a network of non-potable water taps for cleaning purposes, to optimise drinking water use.
⇒ The transition to the circular economy requires conducive regulation in key sectors such as water. Identifying available tools (such as specific requirements for land use), environmental permits (e.g. for decentralised water, waste and energy systems) and regulation for pilot projects would clarify potential regulatory uncertainties across different legal entities, gaps and future needs.
In the context of the public consultation opened by the European Commission on the revision of the Urban wastewater treatment directive, the ZERO BRINE project has released a new policy brief, expressing some recommendations in line with the political options suggested by the European administration.
Which are the key recommendations?
- Set up integrated management plans for large agglomerations (prevention and optimal management of the collection/storage network + treatment)
- Reduction of use: obligation to connect when there is a centralised system
- Impose track and tracing of pollution at source (prevention and optimal management of the collection network + treatment
- Disconnect all industrial wastewater releasing industrial pollutants not treated in the public treatment facilities from urban wastewater (to ensure that the sludge is not polluted with industrial pollutants.
- When the disconnection is not possible, the exploitation of the value of water must consider the Circular Economy of minerals in the brine flows, more than just the agricultural flows of phosphorous.
To read the full list of ZERO BRINE’s recommendations, check the policy brief here.
To learn more about ZERO BRINE developments, click here.Read More
Cyberattacks to water infrastructures are increasingly growing across the world. On February 2021, hackers tried to poisoned water supply in a small city of Florida. This attack raised alarm about just how vulnerable the nation’s water systems may be to attacks by more sophisticated intruders.
Indeed, the Florida’s attack is just one in the long line of cyber or physical attacks since then. The European research project STOP-IT has developed a number of tools to meet those kind of risks and threats but in particular three tools that could detect an attack such as it happened in Florida. Find out more about the STOP-IT tools here.Read More
Creating a climate-neutral and resource-efficient European economy requires a deep transformation of energy, mobility and food systems, as well as a change in production and consumption practices. Such profound change will impact both individuals and society. At the same time, the transition to sustainability will not succeed if people do not support it by adapting their behaviour and consumption patterns. This would imply change towards ‘sustainable behaviour’.
The recent study published by the Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) of the European Parliament, explores the prospects of aligning citizens’ behaviour with the objectives of the European Green Deal in the domains of food consumption and mobility. It identifies key challenges and possibilities in each domain and explores how technological solutions can help people adapt to sustainable behaviour in alignment with the objectives of the European Green Deal.
🔹 How do people decide how to use vital resources like energy and water? The answers to these questions are complex, as they are affected by many factors. Availability, access, price and quality of sustainable options are critical; but other, less visible factors, such as peer behaviour and cultural context, are equally important.
🔹 Require great attention when designing interventions and campaigns to help bridge the divide between good intentions and action. For example, helping people plan better to reduce food waste, removing the hassle of switching to a green energy tariff, providing easy substitutes to medicinal wildlife products, or providing timely reminders and tips for reducing water consumption are all strategies which can help turn green aspirations into green actions.
🔹 A quick glance at agricultural production demonstrates that people’s choice of a diet has climate and environmental footprint: water pollution with nutrients and pesticides, freshwater withdrawals => growing water scarcity.
🔹 Organically-managed soils are more resilient to water stress and nutrient loss, and thus can counter soil degradation. Organic agriculture does not pollute water like conventional agriculture.
🔹 Technological options => creating awareness (labelling, databases, virtual farming, footprint calculators …), connecting farmers and consumers, making sustainable consumption easy, enhancing trust, making sustainable consumption fun, social and attractive.Read More
Forests are indispensable for all life on Earth, and yet we are losing them at an alarming rate. On July 16, the European Commission adopted the New EU Forest Strategy for 2030, a flagship initiative of the European Green Deal that builds on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.
The strategy contributes to the package of measures proposed to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050 in the EU. It also helps the EU deliver on its commitment to enhance carbon removals by natural sinks as per the Climate Law. By addressing the social, economic and environmental aspects all together, the Forest Strategy aims at ensuring the multifunctionality of EU forests and highlights the pivotal role played by foresters.
– Protection, restoration and sustainable management of forests: The Forest Strategy sets a vision and concrete actions for increasing the quantity and quality of forests in the EU and strengthening their protection, restoration and resilience. The proposed actions will increase carbon sequestration through enhanced sinks and stocks thus contributing to climate change mitigation. The Strategy commits to strictly protecting primary and old-growth forests, restoring degraded forests, and ensuring they are managed sustainably – in a way that preserves the vital ecosystem services that forests provide and on which society depends.
✅ Ensuring the multifunctionality of EU forests: CAP will be an opportunity for more targeted support.
✅ The Forest Strategy announces a legal proposal to step up forest monitoring, reporting and data collection in the EU.
✅ The strategy is accompanied by a Roadmap for planting three billion additional trees across Europe by 2030 in full respect of ecological principles – the right tree in the right place for the right purpose.
Which are the water-related elements in the strategy?
☑ We depend on forests for the water we drink. Forests have long held a hugely important role in our economy and society, providing clean water.
☑ Protecting, restoring and enlarging EU’s forests to combat climate change, reverse biodiversity loss and ensure resilient and multifunctional forest ecosystems => ecosystem services provided by forests that are vital for human health and wellbeing such as water regulation
☑ Forest management practices that preserve and restore biodiversity lead to more resilient forests that can deliver on socio-economic and environmental functions. Taking care of forests soil is particularly important.
☑ A strong research and innovation agenda to improve our knowledge of forest (inc. soils restoration, multiple benefits from forest ecosystem services and their interdependencies, digital innovations)
☑ Good examples on public and private payment schemes for ecosystem services exist eg. on protection of drinking water:
– In Germany, Federal water legislation entitles forest owners to receive compensation payments for management restrictions in groundwater protection areas.
– As part of the green heart of cork initiative developed by WWF Mediterranean, a private drinks company paid forest land owners to protect a water aquifer that was used for their production process.
UN launches an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework to secure the future for people and planet
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat on 12 July 2021, released the first official draft of a new Global Biodiversity Framework to guide actions worldwide through 2030 to preserve and protect nature and its essential services to people.
The framework includes 21 targets for 2030 that call for, among other things:
♦ At least 30% of land and sea areas global (especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and its contributions to people) conserved through effective, equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas (and other effective area-based conservation measures).
♦ Reducing nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, and pesticides by at least two thirds, and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste
♦ Nature-based contributions to global climate change mitigation efforts of least 10 GtCO2e per year, and that all mitigation and adaptation efforts avoid negative impacts on biodiversity
♦ Redirecting, repurposing, reforming or eliminating incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least $500 billion per year
♦ A $200 billion increase in international financial flows from all sources to developing countries.
More than two years in development, the Framework will undergo further refinement during online negotiations in late summer before being presented for consideration at CBD’s next meeting of its 196 parties at COP-15, scheduled for Kunming, China 11-24 October. The draft framework proposes four goals to achieve, by 2050, humanity “living in harmony with nature”. The four goals each have 2-3 broad milestones to be reached by 2030. The framework then lists 21 associated “action targets” for 2030 which address reducing threats to biodiversity, meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing, and tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming.
We analysed the framework and we found 3 water-related elements:
Target 2. Ensure that at least 20 per cent of degraded freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems are under restoration, ensuring connectivity among them and focusing on priority ecosystems.
Target 9. Ensure benefits, including nutrition, food security, medicines, and livelihoods for people especially for the most vulnerable through sustainable management of wild terrestrial, freshwater and marine species and protecting customary sustainable use by indigenous peoples and local communities.
Target 11. Maintain and enhance nature’s contributions to regulation of air quality, quality and quantity of water, and protection from hazards and extreme events for all people.Read More
Measuring policy progress on agriculture and water policies is essential to help decision makers identify necessary policy changes and understand how further progress may be achieved to improve agricultural water management.
The OECD has recently published a report Measuring progress in agricultural water management Challenges and practical options to review existing evaluations of agriculture and water policies and suggests three types of progress to be measured: policy design, policy implementation capacity and policy results. The quality and robustness of these measures of policy progress depends upon three main factors.
1. Assessment of policy design requires matching policy alignment with cross cutting objectives or with a reference text.
2. Assessment of progress in implementation capacity requires gauging evolution towards predefined capacity needs or identified governance gaps.
3. Evaluation of policy results requires clearly defined objectives, timelines and scales for assessments.
Seven practical options are identified for applying these principles to agriculture and water policies, illustrated by applying them to assessing progress in the sustainable management of water for irrigation under climate change and in controlling diffuse nutrient pollution. To learn more, read the full paper here.Read More