The European Commission has initiated a European Green Deal call aiming to mobilise research and innovation to foster a sustainable societal transition. The call is embedded in Horizon 2020 as its last work programme. On the 29th of May, the EC opened a public consultation with a deadline for feedback on the 3 June 2020.
It is very important to secure a diversity of stakeholders taking part and making water visible in all the different parts of this consultation. This consultation allows us to stress the pivotal role of water in achieving the goals of the European Green Deal and the digital transition.
Click here to learn more.Read More
The preparations are heating up for the digital edition of Water Innovation Europe 2020 (22-26 June) dedicated to the theme ‘A Water-Smart Society For A Post-COVID19 Green Deal’. This edition will be a fully digital ‘Innovative Water Week’ with online plenary sessions, digital Working Group meetings, digital networking and exhibition opportunities.
During the event, you will get the chance to discuss pressing questions:
💧 How can water enable our European society to prevent crises, ensure resiliency, and reboot our economy after the COVID-19 crisis in line with the Green Deal?
💧How could we make sure that water efficiency gains at an individual level are translated into long-term water security in the context of climate change adaptation?
💧How to fuel research, technological development, and wider sectoral policy coordination to tackle urgent global water and food systems challenges?
💧 How to halt the loss of aquatic biodiversity through 2030 through inclusive models gathering the public sector, the private sector, and civil society?
💧 How to move away from conventional, linear approaches to tackle water quality deterioration, towards circularity and industrial symbiosis?
To answer these questions, we have invited experts in the water sector for live streaming sessions and keynotes. Below, you can find the key confirmed sessions:
Whether you’re promoting a research project, product or offering a service, the WIE2020 digital exhibition offers you a powerful marketing tool to meet potential clients and partners and discuss future projects and collaborations. This is a unique opportunity to display products and services in front of a large targeted audience.
WE Innovation Awards 2020 – Send your application by the 1st of June
WIE2020 will also be your chance to stand out by joining the Water Europe Innovation Awards. Increase your visibility, highlight your innovations, and have a chance to win not only this prestigious award but also a marketing and communication support package from Water Europe to promote your innovative product. If you become an SME winner, you will also be awarded a 2-year free membership at Water Europe.
The winners of Water Europe Innovation Awards 2020 will be featured on a special video highlighting their companies and solutions. This is your chance to be noticed as a leading solution provider. Watch last year’s winners:Read More
Dear Water Europe Family,
I hope you are all doing well. Despite the Coronavirus, despite difficulties and uncertainty, the programme of our Water Innovation Europe 2020 conference is taking shape. We have created a cyberspace environment with a virtual exhibition space and booths, enabling all those who want to demonstrate their projects, products, or services to interact with our conference’s participants through chat, video calls and B2B meetings. Regardless of the conditions, we pledge to always find ways to be innovative in our approach and services, while at the same time consolidating new opportunities, new work, and collaboration tools, as well as service to members.
We continue to make progress in our Advocacy programme, expanding as anticipated and approved, our activities in the direction of policy making, legislative lobbying, and implementation of existing policy and legislation. Our Water Europe positions will always be based on our WE vision and values. We are not only a member-based organisation but also a value-based one. Thus, our criteria to evaluate positions will systematically be societal responsibility, and what is technological and evidence-based achievable, as well as economically feasible. In this regard, Water Europe has set up its new Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) to support the board in its advocacy work. The objective is to stress the need to realise the value of water and achieve a Water Smart Society. The first meeting of our PAC took place on the 13th of May.
This month, the European Water Alliance released its manifesto Opportunity & Necessity for Europe to build a Water-Smart Society and Circular Economy highlighting the pressing water challenges Europe faces and setting out the key actions required to overcome them. Water issues are set to become the most pressing challenge for Europe in the coming years and Europe must get ready to prevent water-related disasters by making our society resilient. Water Europe is part of the EU Water Alliance, the coalition of European members-based organisations representing the wide range of water stakeholders across the entire value chain.
In this issue, we are happy to feature an interview with Dominique Darmendrail, Water JPI Coordinator, in the context of our strong collaboration with Water JPI. Together with our EUWA activities, it is underlined, once again, how collaboration is at the heart of Water Europe not only internally within our Working Groups and collaboration programme but also externally, in the outside world- something which is, of course, rooted in our mission and key values to contribute to solving global water challenges in Europe and beyond.
As always, coinciding with Water Innovation Europe, the Annual General Meeting of Water Europe is going to take place (digitally) on the 24th of June. Besides the annual activity report, and financial standing of WE, important topics covered this year will be a necessary update of our Articles of Association and Bylaws to accommodate to recent changes in Belgian law, the formalization of the use of digital means for meetings, governance and voting procedures, as well as proposed changes to increase membership, improve college management, and operational efficiency. The overall resulting organization which is emerging (Working Group leaders, Vision Leadership Teams, new PAC, two new Vice-presidential figures (total of 3) with specific roles, and a succession scheme (Board, Vice president and President) aimed at securing stability, strategical long view and long term commitment, will all contribute to consolidate and secure for years to come continued service and value to members.
We are water. We are digital. You don´t want to miss it!Read More
What is the Water JPI about? What is it working on?
The Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) are intergovernmental initiatives and tackle societal challenges that cannot be addressed by single countries alone. JPIs foster cross-border collaboration and coordination of research and innovation programmes to effort major, common European and international societal challenges in a structured way, and deliver significant results.
In December 2011, the Water JPI “Water Challenges for a Changing World” was launched to convene the challenge of “achieving sustainable water systems for a sustainable economy in Europe and abroad”. Started around a core of European countries, it is now becoming global, with 23 full members, three observers and six associated partners from the EU, neighbouring countries (Israel, Moldova, Norway and Turkey) and the world (Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Taiwan and Tunisia).
The members are acting on the following key principles:
- Joint actions (figure below) are launched based on a shared SRIA (Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda) agreed by all actors.
- Variable geometry: countries participate only in activities related to their specific interests.
- Flexibility: activities are developed in response to partners’ needs and opportunities using a large range of implementation tools.
- Everything in common except funding: each JPI partner funds its activities and its communities’ participation (so-called virtual common pot).
The Water JPI produces science-based knowledge supporting European and International policies, comprising the identification of problems, their quantification, and the development of feasible technical and managerial solutions. For that, the JPI mobilises existing national and regional RDI programmes and aims to harmonise their research agendas and infrastructures. It will define common research needs and develop joint activities that will increase efficiency by avoiding duplications across Europe and beyond. The Water JPI provides an opportunity for broader cross-border cooperation, greater collaboration and a more unified focus on water RDI across Europe and beyond.
Could you please tell us a few words about the future water partnership and what it is all about?
The European Union is currently developing Horizon Europe, an ambitious €100 billion research and innovation programme to succeed Horizon 2020. One of its pillars, the Framework Programme, plans to support European partnerships with EU countries, the private sector, foundations and other stakeholders. The aim is to deliver on global challenges and industrial modernisation through concerted research and innovation efforts.
One proposal, called Water4All – Water Security for the Planet, aims at enabling water security for all in the long term. This will be achieved through boosting systemic transformations and changes across the entire water-research innovation pipeline, fostering the matchmaking between problem owners and solution providers. It proposes a portfolio of multi-national, multi-faceted and cross-sectoral approach, encompassing policy, environmental, economic, technological and societal considerations. Enabling water security for all is a keystone for achieving the Green Deal and a Healthy Europe.
It is jointly proposed by the European Water platforms (Water JPI, Water Europe, EUREAU, Aqua Publica Europea, EURAQUA, European Water Alliance) and was elaborated during a series of meetings, some opened to different communities (policy-makers, Member States (MS) representatives, research communities, water utilities, ….).
Could you please tell us about the importance of collaboration between Water JPI and Water Europe?
One of the barriers identified for a more efficient implementation of the Water-related Policies, for a smart transition to a circular economy and for ensuring water security for all end-users, is to connect “downstream” funding programmes (development of new knowledge, identification of future challenges, providing equipment investments, etc.) to demonstration programmes on the efficiency and fairness of new innovations at the field scale, and transform pilots into operations. Several elements of the system have to change simultaneously and therefore the actors involved in the research-innovation pipeline have to cooperate closely to make it successful.
Water Europe with its different colleges (Water utilities, Multinational corporations and SMEs, Research & Technology developers, technology and services suppliers, water users or NGOs) is one of the key partners of the Water JPI and its national & regional public research funders, for:
Facilitating the identification of the end-users’ needs
Developing an action plan with these sectors for co-creation and co-development of appropriate tools and concrete actions; and
Then transferring innovative solutions easily transposable in all countries in demand.
We see a number of important benefits, motivations and enabling factors for this cooperation. This includes a greater impact of R&D results and of scientific discovery and advances in technology; scale, scope and complexity of research topics and international issues; or capacity-building development.Read More
This month, the European Commission released several documents to update its work programme and revise its budget in light of COVID-19. Within this new environment, the Green Deal and the Digitalization of Europe remain two key priorities for the EU and continue to lead the EC’s work programmes. The release of the Farm to Fork Strategy and EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 confirms this position.
However, several dossiers will suffer from delay. The follow-up of the white paper on artificial intelligence is delayed by 1 quarter (Q1 2021) while the evaluation of the Industrial emission directive is not impacted and will be managed by the end of this year.
Regarding the Budget, the European Commission proposes a budget of EUR1.85 trillion for 2021-2027 with a new financial instrument, named Next Generation EU, that will bring additional EUR750 billion for the next seven years borrowed on the financial markets. The financial allocations will be through grants (500 B.) and loans (250 B.). The bulk of it concentrated in the period 2020-2024.
This new instrument is organised in 3 pillars to recover our economy, leverage investments, and improve our resiliency. Horizon Europe should benefit from an increase of EUR13.5 B. to reach EUR94.4 B. in the next MFF. The European Commission also proposes a new programme “the recovery and resilience facility’’ embedded in the EU semester with EUR560 Billion to help the regions and economic sectors which suffer the most of the COVID19 crisis. Therefore, the Member States will actively lead the pillar 1 of this new instrument.
This proposition of the Commission stresses the importance to switch from crisis management to risk management and resiliency in line with the green deal and digitalization. It is a key step to achieve a Water-Smart society as we highlighted in our position paper. The Farm to Fork strategy and Biodiversity 2030 strategy also demonstrates the role of water to build a Resilient and Green Europe.Read More
A joint interview with Mariëlle van der Zouwen & Richard Elelman – Water Europe Board Members for college B ‘Researchers & Τechnology developers’
As a board member of Water Europe members’ college B ‘Researchers & Τechnology Developers’, what drives you personally to have this role at Water Europe? What do you want to achieve?
Mariëlle: What personally drives me to have this role at Water Europe is that I really believe in the good of people, in the strength of collaboration across disciplinary, sector and organisational boundaries and the strength of interfaces that are created across those boundaries. I do see Water Europe as such an interface. Another personal drive for me is that I feel strongly committed to show that it is possible to grow towards a more sustainable, water-smart if you wish, society. We have many science-based solutions and technologies available. That is hopeful. But at the end of the day, these have to be implemented and taken up in real life. It is also a behavioural, governance and management issue and a matter of courage. We need to raise awareness for all that and to show what can be done and Water Europe is contributing to that. For example, think about the Water-oriented Living Labs showcasing systematic innovations that are needed to achieve a Water-Smart Society and economy.
Richard: My case is very similar, as well. Once I started actively my involvement in politics, I became fascinated by the subject of environmental politics. I work with all the environmental factors: climate change, transport, energy but water is the most important aspect for me. Water is the most basic necessity we have on this planet and in many ways the least respected and the least publicly debated. What I have enjoyed most of being part of Water Europe is that WE has managed to become an organisation that encompasses all the actors of what we call in politics the ‘Quadruple Helix’ the private, public, research sector, citizens and culturally oriented groups and has created a united front which is absolutely essential in water.
Representing college B, which ones do you consider the key challenges and the most burning needs of your college and how do you contribute to addressing these in the context of Water Europe?
Richard: When you are a board member representing a specific college, you have three duties. You have to represent the membership itself, the worries, and the preoccupations that this college will have. You have an obligation to serve Water Europe as a whole and therefore, work towards breaking down any possible silos that may potentially exist. When it comes to college B, now, we have an obligation to encourage research institutions to learn to communicate very clearly, coherently, and regularly with the other societal actors. We need to make sure that the research community also becomes a socio-political stakeholder in the general issue of water and the environmental problems we face.
Mariëlle: Researchers themselves need to ask how they can contribute to delivering this knowledge to society at large and here is where communication comes into play. I think there is still way to go there. In my years at university I often started the policy and governance courses with the statement that ‘a good scientist is also a politician’ to have a debate on the societal responsibility of the research community. And here is where science communication comes into play. Scientists engaging with society, NGOs and politics is really part of our society’s need. Beyond this, now, to move towards a more sustainable society, a long-term perspective is extremely essential. We do know that researchers have longer time horizons if you compare it to managers, politicians and operational workers, so I do see a great role for scientists to play when it comes to co-creating a water-smart future. Members in college B have a bit of an advantage because of this. The long-term orientation is in our genes.
Speaking about challenges, another one in college B would be to increase the number of interdisciplinary collaborations among our members. The Vision Leadership Teams (VLTs) within WE, have more of an interdisciplinary nature and involvement and engagement from college B members is growing. If we are serious about embracing uncertainty and complexity, we should further develop this interdisciplinary collaboration.
Richard: Indeed, the Vision Leadership Teams (VLTs) are very important to move forward. That is the key to really solidify and establish the interdisciplinary approach that we describe within WE and then as a result to be able to disseminate that work beyond WE.
Mariëlle: Another important point to note of a more operational nature is how we relate and connect with the individual college B members. We have thought and talked about it with other members for a while and Richard and I have decided to organise a digital get together with our college members in order to be well prepared for the Water Europe Digital Innovation week (22-26 June 2020) and the annual General Assembly. We really look forward to that and will continue to do this a couple of times a year to really have time to have a meaningful exchange. And we will keep trying to find new ways of engagement within the college.
Looking at the current water policy developments, which one(s) you consider from your point of view that will have an impact on college B members?
Richard: Everything. What I often have to explain to scientists and politicians is that whatever policy is decided will always affect the research community, as well. Policy decisions are about the priorities set and about which part of the economic cake is dedicated to which social aspects. From the Green deal to specific elements of the revision of the WFD, all of these have an effect on the research community, and it needs to be a two-way process. We need to encourage research entering into dialogue with politicians.
Mariëlle: Indeed. Besides, I am a very strong supporter of the ‘power of example’. All of the members of college B have their regional networks in which we do have a lot of showcases that actually prove to work on the ground. And also when these don’t work, we can learn from these experiences. My message is to bring these regional learning alliances or regional living labs forward. H2020 or Horizon Europe projects are and will be very good examples in which the majority of WE members and certainly many college B members are involved.
Based on our vision, Water Europe aims to build a Water Smart Society. From your point of view, which are the obstacles we need to overcome and which actions shall we put forward to make this happen?
Richard: The principal mission of Water Europe at the moment must be to establish water in the psyche of society as a whole, as the most important, most essential resource we have on this planet. Without water, there is no life. It must support any measures that ensure access of water to everybody not only in Europe but beyond. Increasingly, Europe, as a whole, must assume a leading role in that discussion and Water Europe, as a result, must, as well. I believe that Water Europe within its capacity has developed a very strong profile, a very firm and very clear vision of how the water sector itself should move forward but also how society should regard water. We are one of the principal platforms within the European Union to represent the interests of water and if we are representing the interests of water, we are representing the interests of society as a whole.
Mariëlle: Water is not always so visible as one coherent sector or policy field with a dedicated integrated approach. For the field of energy, for example, there is quite a huge budget and almost abundancy of policy plans on the energy transition. It makes me wonder why we don’t talk about a water transition, which is a much more fundamental one. This point was quite recently brought forward e.g. in the Netherlands by many water authorities and water supply utilities. And a water transition cannot solely be about water. It needs to be a water energy food nexus kind of movement, which human and environmental health as an underlying basic need. Just like Water Europe is advocating.
Richard: Water Europe has established the importance of water within the WEFE Nexus, but this needs to be also understood beyond the research centres. The COVID19 crisis has also illustrated that all the elements of the WEFE nexus are absolutely essential to our health. As a result of COVID19, water is being recognised. We have seen that the water sector is looking at specific challenges and providing solutions to a much broader problem. The role of water as a science diplomacy element is becoming increasingly more important. Water is potentially going to be the principal cause of armed conflict in the 21st century. So, instead of waiting for that to happen, there is a movement towards water diplomacy on a global scale and I believe our researchers and all the elements of Water Europe have an incredibly important role to play in that.
Mariëlle: Yes, water diplomacy is really a key issue here which could prevent conflict escalation. Water conflicts are not for far away regions only. Also, in Europe, where we need to deal with climate change, drought, access to water and all that, potential water conflicts are present and part of daily life. That is why I am so happy that WE now has further developed its Advocacy Programme and recently established a Policy Advisory Committee. College B evidence and experiences could be an important basis underpinning the work of the committee.Read More
Water Europe is glad to partner again with BlueTech Research ahead of their BlueTech Forum: Connect online event. The live broadcast will be taking place on Thursday 4th June at 8.30am Pacific Time (11.30 EDT, 16.30 BST, 17.30 CET). Over the past decade, BlueTech has brought together their community to learn and collaborate between large water corporations, utilities, industrial end-users, investors, entrepreneurs, research institutes and government institutions. The 120-minute program will feature:
The Lighthouse Plenary: a world-class showcase of visionary leadership and exemplary stewardship across leading brands and utilities.
Interactive keynote from celebrated conservationist and practiced self-isolator, Mark Nelson – an original member of Biosphere II, ecologist, and author.
Water Technology Markets 2020. In 2010, Paul O’Callaghan authored a report analysing the prospects of a wide range of innovative technologies across the water and wastewater treatment space. A decade later, we take stock of the changes, what has come to pass, what never materialised, the shifts and what we can expect as we forecast out to 2030.
Interactive keynote – “Troubled Water: What’s wrong with what we drink, and how to fix it”, from NY Times’ Best-Selling Author, Seth Siegel.
Video introduction from the 2020 Innovation Showcase companies.
To discover the full agenda, speaker line-up and to book your place click here.Read More
The European Commission has adjusted its Work Programme for 2020 to propel Europe’s recovery and resilience. The priorities that were set at the beginning of the mandate and presented in January 2020 remain valid in addressing today’s challenges.
The Commission remains fully determined to deliver on its flagship initiatives, the European Green Deal and the Digital Strategy, as they are key to relaunching the European economy and building a more resilient, sustainable, fair and prosperous Europe.
To ensure the recovery is sustainable, even, inclusive and fair for all Member States, the European Commission is proposing to create a new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU. Next Generation EU of €750 billion as well as targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 will bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion.
The money raised for Next Generation EU will be invested across three pillars:
Pillar 1- Support to Member States with investments and reforms:
A new Recovery and Resilience Facility of €560 billion will offer financial support for investments and reforms, including in relation to the green and digital transitions and the resilience of national economies, linking these to the EU priorities
€15 billion reinforcement for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to support rural areas in making the structural changes necessary in line with the European Green Deal and achieving the ambitious targets in line with the new biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies.
A proposal to strengthen the Just Transition Fund up to €40 billion, to assist Member States in accelerating the transition towards climate neutrality.
Pillar 2. Kick-starting the EU economy by incentivising private investments:
Highlight: A new Solvency Support Instrument will mobilise private resources to urgently support viable European companies in the sectors, regions and countries most affected.
Pillar 3. Addressing the lessons of the crisis:
Highlight: An amount of EUR €94.4 billion for Horizon Europe, which will be reinforced to fund vital research in health, resilience and the green and digital transitions.
Reaching a rapid political agreement on Next Generation EU and the overall EU budget for 2021-2027 at the level of the European Council by July is necessary to give new dynamism to the recovery and equip the EU with a powerful tool to get the economy back on its feet and build for the future.
For more information, click here.
To learn more about Water Europe’s stance on a European recovery plan, make sure to read our position paper ‘A Water-Smart Society for a Successful post #COVID19 recovery plan‘.Read More
The Water Europe Working Groups preparations are heating up for their annual meetings scheduled to take place at the Water Innovation Europe 2020 conference. Their agendas are being shaped up and registrations are open for you to join. In the meantime, some of their most recent developments follow below:
Working Group Nexus
The working group Nexus is currently finalising a policy brief on the Nexus in a Circular and Low-Carbon Economy. Examples are presented of water actions to strengthen food production and security energy supplies.
The policy brief does not only identify synergies between the nexus sectors, but also presents examples on how to engage people in the nexus. The Working Group will meet to discuss the final draft on June 24 during Water Innovation Europe 2020 conference.
Working Group Water Distribution Infrastructure
The recent activities have been focused on preparing and holding an online workshop aimed at engaging especially water utilities, to understand the broader challenges and opportunities for operational excellence in water distribution networks and integrate the gained insights into the evolving plans of the WG.
Key insights provided by the attendees in terms of challenges/trends were digitalization and what data to measure, different pipe materials in the network causing e.g. leakage issues, increased re-use of water in both the agricultural and industrial sectors.
With regards to opportunities, among the main insights collected are addressing water quality issues (microbes, chemicals and salt), identification and removal of microplastics, maintenance based on non-invasive technologies and use of ubiquitous sensor data for proactive maintenance. The WG will step up the engagement of water utilities and construction companies to ensure their attendance to a follow-up workshop planned for WIE2020. It is important to base the future activities on solid understanding of the business needs and challenges.Read More
On the 26th of May, the Water Test Network project is hosting its first (free) international webinar. In this webinar, you can learn how an SME can get access to the support vouchers (with a value up to €50.000) within the project to test, verify or validate water-related technologies. Furthermore, several SMEs will tell their experiences and plans within the Water Test Network.Read More