Ecomondo 2021, the benchmark event in Europe for technological and industrial innovation comes back with an innovative format, bringing together all sectors of the circular economy on a single platform: from the recovery of materials and energy to sustainable development.
Four days of business and know-how exchange with top experts from the European Commission, innovators, international and national authorities, the world of science and university, decision makers and investors. All gathered from 26th to 29th October, at Rimini Expo Center in Italy, for the 24th edition of ECOMONDO . Find out more.Read More
New EU Report ‘Water in the Circular Economy policy development’: how projects can contribute to EU legislation
During the Water Knowledge Europe 2021 Spring edition, held in March 2021, Water Europe, together with EASME and NextGen project organized the workshop on ‘Water in the Circular Economy policy development’ within the context of Water Projects Europe event. Water experts and policy makers were there to discuss the governance challenges in the transition towards circular water solutions. The six Horizon 2020-projects projects participated in the workshop were:
Based on the outcomes of Water Projects Europe, the European Commission published the ‘Water in the Circular Economy policy development’ Report, as a reflection on the policy implications for the implementation and transferability of initiatives to further close water cycles, reuse water, and recover energy and nutrients from wastewater, based on real-life experience from water in the Circular Economy (CE) demonstration cases across Europe. The report presents not only the topics discussed but also several recommendations derived from the Horizon–2020 projects. Discover here the full report.Read More
During the summer, Water Europe has been active replying to the public consultation on the Sustainable textile strategy with the objective to raise the importance of water and its innovative solutions, such as the one developed by ZeroBrine in Turkey.
This strategy will help the EU shift to a climate-neutral circular economy where products are designed to be more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy-efficient. Water smart management can contribute to a more competitive, sustainable and resilient textile industry, as set up in the Roadmap for EU strategy for textiles. The recommendations made by Water Europe are based on the inputs from its members and the outcomes of Water Innovation Europe 2021.
If we welcome the links made by the European Commission with the ongoing revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive, particularly the BREF on Textile industry, the chemical strategy for sustainability and the circular economy action plan, the Value of Water and the exploitation of nutrients, substances and energy embedded in wastewater remain underestimated. Moreover, the development of digital tools to monitor pollution, paired with the flagship of the Zero Pollution Action plan can maximise the synergies towards a green and digitalised textile industry in Europe.
The consultation closed on the 4th of August, and we expect the publication of the strategy in the third quarter of 2021.
In line with our Vision, Water Europe position is based on 5 key recommendations:
- Increasing water efficiency, circular management and reuse
- Leveraging synergies with the industrial emissions directive
- Tackling the presence of hazardous substances & microplastics
- Boosting research and innovation of new technologies to address water-related challenges
- Encouraging the deployment of digital tools to accelerate the transformation
Dear Water Europe family,
At a moment when most of us, and yourself probably, are slowly returning from a well-deserved rest, it is time to look back at some of the important events and milestones Water Europe has been able to convert into success stories.
We have continued and will continue for the larger part of the year, being unable to meet physically or in person. For an association whose main objective is coming together and collaboration this might be considered a handicap. Yet, Water Europe has managed, once again, to overcome problems and find imaginative solutions.
This year’s edition of Water Innovation Europe 2021 gathered more than 500 zoom-participants and 100 speakers across Europe to discuss the challenges and solutions towards a Water-Smart Society for Global Impact. An additional 6.700 contacts followed the web-streaming of the event over social media. During the event, we had 5 plenary sessions, 17 Working Group meetings, 8 Workshops, 10 Side events, 8 digital booths and the Water Europe Annual General Meeting. We have compiled all the key take-home messages from this year’s edition in this factsheet. In case you missed our event, enjoy its highlights in this short video.
Technology also came to the rescue for our Annual General Meeting (AGM), held in the context of the digital edition of Water Innovation Europe 2021 conference on the 18th of June 2020. Digital proved its value and we had again a great turnout. The Board presented its Annual Report 2021, and all the Vice-Presidents gave an overview of all the activities in their portfolios. Elections by each of the colleges who had a Board Members finalizing his or her term were held at the end of the AGM to nominate new representatives to the Water Europe Board. We want to thank all those coming forward with candidatures for their commitment with Water Europe, and to congratulate those elected, who we wish a fruitful and successful term. To check the new composition of the board for the period 2021-2023, please click here.
Just before the summer break, the European Commission opened the calls for proposals for the Work Programme 2021-2022 of Horizon Europe and we seized the opportunity to organise a special half-day summer edition of Water Knowledge Europe to offer our network a full overview of the Horizon Europe (HEU) programme. Water Europe made an analysis of the Horizon Europe calls that all the event’s participants received, and more than 100 calls were identified as calls with great potential for water. Speakers from the European Commission shared their analyses and insights about the new programme and provided valuable tips on how to write a winning project proposal.
More recently, Water Europe has been working on the National Recovery and Resilience plans position paper, identifying water-related investments for a post-covid19 Europe. This has been a follow-up mapping exercise to Water Europe’s position on COVID-19 released last year. Same time, WE developed a position paper to reply to the public consultation for a strategy on Sustainable Textile Industry, building on the conclusions of the first session of Water Innovation Europe 2021 and the inputs from the Water Europe members.
COVID will stay with us still for years to come, but better times are showing up already around the corner. I wish you all a good return from a restful and refreshing summer.
The World Water Week 2021 has ended bringing under the spotlight unseen global challenges to overcome
The World Water Week 2021 has ended last week with a five-day water events to foster cooperation and collective determination in tackling the water challenges. The event was held on August 23-27 and it was fully digital under the theme Building Resilience Faster.
As the world’s water issues are becoming alarmingly obvious, this year’s conference has brought under the spotlight unseen water challenges showing how we can join forces and address them. The event arranged over 400 sessions, co-created with leading international organizations, to demonstrate a number of solutions to for example water scarcity, the climate crisis and poverty.
The ultimate message is “we have many solutions to fix the water crisis and tackle climate change, but we need political will and sufficient investments. This is what the conference called on the international community to activate.“
In case you have missed the event, you can find all the session’s informations here.
The United States mission to OECD and the OECD Secretariat will host the Roundtable on Financing Water thematic meeting focused on climate action. The meeting will be held virtually on 23-24 September 2021 from 13h30-16h30 (CET).
In the lead up to the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting and the UNFCCC COP 26, this meeting is being organised in partnership with the OECD and the U.S. Government, notably the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It aims to:
▶ Strengthen the awareness and understanding among policy makers and financiers of the linkages between water security, climate action and finance, including:
– How physical climate risks often manifest through water (e.g. floods, water scarcity and droughts, rainfall variability and degraded water quality).
– How water-related physical risks can translate into material financial risks and the extent to which the prudential regulation and financial system risk management frameworks take such risks into account.
– How climate and water-related considerations can be integrated in investment and financing decision.
▶ Showcase good practices and inspiring examples of financing and investment that can mobilise and align financing with water security and climate action.
▶ Highlight opportunities for investments that contribute to water security and climate action (mitigation, adaptation and resilience) and broader policy objectives including environmental justice and women’s empowerment.
A draft agenda is available on the meeting webpage. Sessions will focus on:
– Putting finance to work for a net zero, resilient and water secure future;
– Water as a lever for climate action: The investment opportunity;
– Climate risks manifesting through water: Understanding financial materiality;
– Climate resilient investments in water security: Contributing to environmental justice and women’s empowerment.
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
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