The Blue Tulips Award programme is a competition that aims to connect innovators, build powerful collaborations and accelerate break-through innovations.
It is organized in a three-months competition with themes that are fully focused on UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. They welcome 50 innovations per themes that have the potential to improve our future. Through different rounds and digital events, innovators will work towards the end goal: winning a Blue Tulip Award and change the future.
The ‘Generation 2’ seek to promote innovative ideas in the themes of Food & Water and Education & Employment to pave the way to a brighter future. Tomás A. Michel Mayer – our President – will be participating to the event as the jury-expert for the Food & Water.
For more info & registrations: https://buff.ly/36pKNRgRead More
Water Europe releases new Position Paper ‘For a Green, Circular & Smart Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive’
Water Europe is proud to launch its new position paper ”For a Green, Circular & Smart Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive’. Water Europe welcomes the conclusion of the European Commission to update the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) in line with the Green Deal and the digitalisation of Europe and makes available a list of recommendations that can pave the way to achieving a Water-Smart Society.
The Urban Waste-Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) has set an international reference case in the global effort in wastewater management. The revision must master the complexity of the topic by signing up for a resource-oriented approach and an energy-driven one.
A well-designed UWWTD must consider circular economy, digital water, and new technological developments. This holistic perspective is the key driver for energy-performance, resource recovery and water reuse.
To read the full report please click here.
Last week, Thursday, 29th of October, Water Europe board members convened online to elect their Executive Committee and exchange on the Water Europe priorities for the upcoming period.
In line with 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.
Tomas Michel was re-elected as Water Europe President until June 2022 and the five appointed Vice-Presidents are Hans Goosens as first Vice-President (VP), Marie-Renée de Roubin as VP for Finance, Chrysi Laspidou as VP for Technology and Research, Wim van Vierssen as VP for Innovation and David Martin as VP for Advocacy.
The Water Europe board also welcomed Mark Lange from Microsoft as a new Board member under college A.
To view the current Water Europe Board composition, please click here.
The European Commission is currently drafting a new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, which is expected to be published early next year.
To highlight the importance of a water-related perspective being well reflected in this strategic document, the BMU is hosting the conference “Climate Change and the European Water Dimension – Increasing Resilience” on 4 and 5 November. Together with European stakeholders, the BMU will examine the adaptation challenges and requirements that are specific to the water sector.
We plan to incorporate the conclusions and recommendations resulting from these discussions into the ongoing debate on the new EU Adaptation Strategy. We are organising this conference jointly with Portugal and Slovenia, who will continue discussions on the new Adaptation Strategy and the nexus between climate change and water during their EU Council Presidencies in 2021.
Check programme and registration.
On Friday 30 October, 2020 Durk Krol, Water Europe Executive Director was warmly welcomed by Joachim Rozemeijer and Annemieke Nijhof at Deltares where he handed over the Water Europe Digital Water Award 2020 for their winning innovation, the Nitrate app.
What is the Nitrate app?
Farmers can use the Nitrate App to see for themselves how much nitrate is entering their surface waters and groundwater. The data is then shared: this is important for further research and others can also benefit. The 1991 Nitrate Directive aims to protect water quality throughout Europe by ensuring that nitrate from agricultural sources does not contaminate groundwater and surface water. Water Europe agrees that a digital solution like the Nitrate App helps to achieve that goal.
Nitrate in Europe
The Nitrate App in Europe is mainly used in the Netherlands and Denmark. The app can be downloaded for free by everyone. All they then need to purchase are the nitrate strips and a reference card. The Dutch Nitrate Directive action programme is achieving good results. Improvements are being monitored in a national monitoring network. All Member States have drawn up action programmes based on the directive: there are more than 300 in Europe as a whole.
To learn more about the app click here.Read More
Water Europe, along with several of its members, has joined the Coalition on Access to Sanitation, which published its Joint Statement for the Promotion of Access to Sanitation for All in Europe on October 23, supported by 26 organisations.
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, the Coalition urges the European Commission to seize the opportunity given by the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and enshrine in EU law the right to access to adequate sanitation services recognised by the United Nations. A Water-Smart Society can leave no one behind. A Water-Smart Society is a society in which the true value of water is recognised and realised, and all available water sources are managed in such a way that every need is afforded, including economic, environmental and social ones.
Yet 10 million people still lack access to safe sanitation services in Europe. The new Drinking Water Directive has rightly introduced an article promoting access to water. We believe the European Union should seize the opportunity of the revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive to introduce similar legal provisions ensuring access to sanitation in line with the SDGs. In its position on the post- COVID19 recovery plans and in its white paper on SDGs, Water Europe has already promoted the importance of access to sanitation.
For Water Europe, a holistic approach is paramount in introducing new provisions on the right of access to sanitation into the Directive: the guarantee of access to safe sanitation services cannot be disconnected from the need to maintain and improve the measures protecting European citizens from pollutants, nor from improving the resilience of the water network against weather events. We believe that digitalisation of the water sector is the answer to protect and ameliorate the quality of water in all contexts, by monitoring pollutants such as CECs and limiting antimicrobial resistance. Constant monitoring through sensors would also lead to great increases in efficiency both in the use of energy and of water. Along with digital solutions, the implementation of Nature-Based Solutions – for instance restoration and expansion of wetlands – would help further secure the resilience of water infrastructure against extreme events, thus guaranteeing access to water and sanitation even in dire situations such as storms and floods, the frequency of which is on the rise due to climate change.
The revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive is a major opportunity to build a water-friendly legislation that truly protects European citizens and guarantees their rights of access to a clean and resilient source of water, taking a significant step in building a Water-Smart Society.
We therefore join the Coalition in its call to the European Commission urging it to take action in introducing the right of access to sanitation in European legislation.Read More
Exclusive Interview with Svenja Schulze, German Federal Minister for the Environment in an exclusive interview with Water Europe
In environment policy, we are moving forward in four priority areas: climate action, nature conservation, circular economy and digitalisation. The water sector plays an important role in many different contexts: With the new European Climate Law we are underlining the importance of adaptation to climate change in the water sector. The EU Biodiversity Strategy’s 2030 objectives and activities will support implementing the EU’s water management objectives. In December, the Council will address the Circular Economy Action Plan, which identifies “Food, water and nutrients” as one of seven “key product value chains” that require targeted action. I am aware that some stakeholders from the water sector support following a similar approach in water policy with a view to establishing producer responsibility. Unfortunately, copy and paste will not do the job. We will have to find solutions that are suited to the specific challenges in water management. Finally, we know there is enormous potential for digital solutions in the water sector and in water management, from optimising efficient water use to improved modelling and better use of data for planning and decision-making.
Making the European Union the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050 is an important goal. What have been the actions of the German presidency towards accomplishing this target?
The first part of a short and intensive journey is now behind us. Less than a year ago, the heads of state and government decided to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050. In March 2020, the European Commission tabled its draft EU Climate Law. Germany, as a moderator, successfully negotiated the adoption of large parts of the EU Climate Law. The German presidency has a key role to play in the second part of the journey: finding common ground between EU member states on a more ambitious 2030 climate target.
Which ones are the expected impacts of the 2030 climate target plan presented last month and how can this contribute to the achievement of a Water-Smart society?
The Commission’s Climate Target Plan and the impact assessment highlight the potential for emission reduction in water supply and wastewater management. Think of what we could improve by minimising energy consumption for the extraction, treatment and distribution of water and for the treatment of wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants can even become suppliers of electricity and heat. However, water pollution with trace substances leads to higher demands in wastewater treatment performance that may result in increased energy consumption of the plant. That is why we need to improve our precautionary substance policy, for example a Zero Pollution Action Plan. The focus of a Water-Smart Society is on adaptation to climate change. Droughts and floods, but also gradual effects on water availability, quality and water-related ecosystems, make adaptation a water issue. Failure to adopt climate-resilient water management would cost billions of euros in damage. Sustainable and climate-resilient water management is therefore a critical building block for the overall climate resilience of economic sectors, ecosystems and society at large. To highlight the importance of a water-related perspective being well reflected in the upcoming new EU adaptation strategy, the BMU is hosting the conference “Climate Change and the European Water Dimension – Increasing Resilience” on 4 and 5 November.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call stressing the importance of a strong water sector. Which ones do you think are the strongest tools of the European Union in its effort to overcome this crisis and prevent a future one?
Throughout the pandemic, we have maintained water and wastewater services at the usual high level. No pandemic-induced outages or shortages have been reported, and facilities have swiftly adapted to the new situation. We are extremely grateful to the staff at these facilities. Nevertheless, we need to improve the overall resilience of the system. Digitalisation is certainly an important element. However, we should also not forget how crucial sufficient and well-trained personnel is.Read More
You were recently elected as Water Europe board members of college E ‘Large Water Users’- Could you tell us what drives you personally to have this role at Water Europe? What do you want to achieve?
Charlotte: My job at Vlakwa brings me in contact with a number of large water users from different industrial sectors (e.g. food, chemistry, textile). It is my task to find solutions for their water challenges. I do so by match making with researchers, liaising with technology providers and identifying funding opportunities. I want to represent the large water users in the WE board to guarantee a reality check with my practical experiences in the field. On top of that, I hope to be able to convince some large water users to become members of WE to obtain a better member balance between the different colleges.
Josep: My professional career is around water. As the world is facing unprecedent water issues (scarcity, water rights, sanitation, etc.), there are also big opportunities like reuse, recycle, sustainability, etc. Water Europe as multidisciplinary platform offers a huge opportunity to water users to meet providers, service suppliers, researchers, to discuss on water topics, solutions, and funding opportunities. With Charlotte, we aim at enlarging the actual membership and invite other large water users to join.
Representing the large water users 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?
Josep: Water is used everywhere and every day in our lives. Many activities and industrial processes do not work without water. One of the key points is regulations. The European water regulatory framework is complex and regulatory developments are followed up by Water Europe’s policy committee and developments raised to members so they can evaluate impacts on their activities, and on the other side, feed-back is received from members that can be conveyed to the European Institutions through the policy advisory committee.
Charlotte: I think that my board colleague Josep and I in the first place need to listen to the college E members. They need to address their key challenges and burning needs to us so that we can bring it to a higher level within Water Europe. For instance, I can imagine that new policy developments might have a big impact on large water users. It is our task to map potential implications and raise this to the policy advisory committee.
How important is for large water users to be involved in European affairs and have a platform for networking purposes?
Charlotte: It is appealing to be a member of a European platform who synthesizes for you the most important developments with respect to water in Europe. This ranges from technological innovations and networking opportunities to policy developments and financing instruments. You could never do this job by yourself. On top of that, these specialists are familiar with the tangle of European institutions and know to who to address what.
Josep: Water Europe is bringing to its members the latest technological and regulatory developments, financing opportunities for projects, and a vision on the future of water and society. However, understanding the water and environmental regulations and engaging in advocacy is necessary. Networking is the only way water users or anyone involved in the use of water can learn about what’s happening and how relevant issues can be tackled.
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 large water users contribute to that?
Josep: First people need to take conscience on how important is the water in our lives. In Europe we have water stressed areas but still we can afford water of good quality. A water-smart society needs to be instructed, and then offer smart solutions to face water scarcity, water reuse and recycle, wastewater treatment, etc. to ensure water of quality and quantity for future generations. In all these aspects Water Europe can play a significant role.
Charlotte: A lot of water-related innovations and solutions are already out there. Time has come for massive implementation. Large water users should take up an exemplary role. They could for instance offer access to one of their sites to function as industrial living labs. I also think that a water-smart society is not built from today to tomorrow. In that respect a return-on-investment of 3 years or less is not always feasible for water-related investments. This mindset should change and large water users can play a leading role in this to preserve our planet.
Dear Water Europe family,
COVID 19 is not going away and at the time of writing this editorial is hitting Europe hard with a despite expected, very virulent second wave. I hope this editorial finds you all well.
Going digital was an obvious choice for WE to continue delivering value to members. After the still resounding success of the first WIE event this summer, the recent digital edition of Water Knowledge Europe has also concluded very successfully with 240 participants present across the five days of the event.
A full week dedicated to the EU Green Deal Call with our Brokerage event, 53 B2B meetings, 14 Working Group meetings, the launch of our new event series ‘Water Projects Europe’ and one joint WG workshop. Once again, this edition exceeded our expectations not only in terms of participant turnout but also of the interactivity during the sessions. Following this, we have already started the preparations for the next Water Knowledge Europe edition that will be on the new programme Horizon Europe 2021 and will be held on the 9-11 and 14-15 of December 2020. While COVID is raging we shall continue to deliver.
And so, do some of our most representative members. During Water Knowledge Europe 2020, a coordination meeting with our 40 Water Europe ambassadors took place. They had the chance to discuss the EU public funding for collaborative research, Water-Oriented Living Labs, as well as the ongoing EU policy developments with those leading our WE Working Groups and Vision Leadership Teams. My and WE’s gratitude for their commitment and dedication.
WE advocacy is also not stopped by COVID 19. This month, together with 25 organisations, Water Europe released a joint statement calling on the EU institutions to enshrine the Human right to Water and Sanitation in EU law. The signatory stakeholders call on European policy-makers to secure better access of the 10 million people who still lack access to safe sanitation services in the EU, stressing that universal access to decent and safe sanitation services is a fundamental need and a human right.
And within this never stopping activity, WE continues its efforts to advocate for the value of water. Over the last weeks, with our partners from the EU Water Alliance, WE had meetings with numerous Commissioners and their cabinets to highlight the importance of this topic. The good news is that the awareness and understanding of the value of water are much higher than 5 years ago when similar discussions with the Commissioners of the previous European Commission were held.
To conclude, we have in this issue the pleasure to feature an exclusive interview with Ms. Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety who talks to us about the main priorities of the EU German presidency and the role of water in them; how Europe can become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and a lot more. Enjoy the reading.
Stay healthy and…resilient.Read More
PathoCERT project has officially kicked-off its activities. PathoCERT stands for Pathogen Contamination Emergency Response Technologies and aims to help first responders to address waterborne pathogen contamination. On the 5th and 6th of October 2020, KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence hosted virtually the kick-off meeting of the new 3-year H2020 project, bringing together around 90 people from an international consortium of 23 partners.
Pathogens can easily spread via water, leading to serious health complications or even death. Due to the nature of their work, first responders are more likely to become contaminated when they need to operate in areas where water is present. With a funding of €6.9M from the European Union, the project will research, develop, and evaluate specialised technologies, tools, and procedures, to handle emergencies and investigate events that involve possible waterborne pathogen contamination events. During the kick-off, the partners had the chance to hear first-hand how first responders handle emergency situations, as well as the challenges of having to operate within uncertain water environments.
The project’s outcomes will strengthen the capabilities of first responders and agencies, in terms of real-time accurate pathogen detection, increased situational awareness, improved ability in contamination event control and risk mitigation, and joint coordination between agencies to effectively manage these events. First responders will be actively involved throughout the development process using a participatory methodology of stakeholder engagement. All the PathoCERT technologies will be field-tested in 5 pilot studies in Spain, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Greece, and Bulgaria.
Led by the KIOS Research and Innovation Center of Excellence at the University of Cyprus, the project brings on board universities, research centres, NGOs, emergency responders, agencies, water utilities and companies from 11 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden and South Korea. According to the coordinator, Prof. Christos Panayiotou, “the PathoCERT project provides a great opportunity to create new and innovative tools that will help first responders in their fight against water contamination events. The project is a collaboration of major stakeholders from several European countries.
Representatives from all partners were present at the kick-off meeting, empowering the project with their own particular skills and expertise. Each partner will have a critical role to play in the development of PathoCERT whose ultimate purpose is to safeguard the health of those who dedicate their lives in protecting our society.Read More