The World Economic Forum has recently published the Global Risks Report 2022 to examine how global divergence across multiple domains in the post-COVID-19 recovery threatens to widen disparities and aggravate societal fractures.
Drawing upon insights from over 950 experts and decision-makers worldwide, the 17th edition of the report unpacks some of the critical global tensions that may worsen the pandemic’s cascading impacts and complicate the coordination needed to tackle common challenges that include strengthening climate action, enhancing digital safety, restoring livelihoods and societal cohesion, and managing competition in space.
Although the movement restrictions related to COVID-19 interrupted some migration flows, climate change is considered a key driver of migration. More frequent and extreme weather events— including fires, floods and droughts—could displace more than 200 million people by 2050.
Particularly, water scarcity is likely to drive people to move from their original countries because of its impact on health and livelihoods as well as the conflicts it risks triggering. The report also states:
-Physical and mental health impacts from harmful chemical or other particulates in the air, water or food, which may stem from energy generation, industrial and agricultural practices, waste management failures, natural disasters, human behaviour and other sources
-Chemical, food, mineral, water or other natural resource crises at a global scale as a result of human overexploitation and/or mismanagement of critical natural resources.Read More
The European Commission is launching a brand new edition of the Horizon Impact Award – a prize dedicated to EU-funded projects whose results have created societal impact across Europe and beyond. The prize acknowledges and rewards the most influential and impactful project results under Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), the EU research and innovation programme, and its predecessor, the 7th Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013).
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said:
“We want to highlight the importance of ensuring that research, innovation and science translate into concrete benefits for the citizens and society. Horizon Impact Award puts the spotlight on projects and the people behind them that have contributed towards transformative impacts on the economy, society and policymaking – leading to advancements across different fields. I look forward to seeing many excellent examples of how EU-funded research contributes to shaping a better world.”
Deadline of application: 8 March 2022. Find out more info and send you application here.Read More
Free-flowing rivers: Commission advises how to select sites and finance removal of obsolete barriers
The European Commission has recently released the ‘Biodiversity Strategy 2030 – Barrier Removal for River Restoration’ to assist Member States in identifying and prioritising barriers that could be removed to help achieve the Biodiversity Strategy’s goal of restoring 25 000 km of rivers to be free-flowing, and in identifying possible funding sources. The Strategy proposes two main types of action to achieve that goal: removal of barriers and the restoration of floodplains and wetlands.
Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Virginijus Sinkevičius, said “Rivers in Europe are heavily fragmented. Removing barriers to restore their natural flow and connectivity will help freshwater ecosystems thrive and facilitate the migration of endangered species, such as the sturgeon and the European eel. Investing in healthy rivers will also bring many benefits related to ecosystem services, such as flood protection, water purification and recreational opportunities. We can now provide practical support to Member States on how to do it and on how to finance such actions.”Read More
The European Commission plans to introduce a “digital product passport” early next year that would contain information about the composition of goods on the European market to help boost their chances of being reused and recycled.
At the moment, half of total greenhouse gas emissions and over 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from resource extraction and processing. Global consumption of materials, like biomass, fossil fuels, metals and minerals is expected to double over the next four decades, with annual waste generation projected to increase 70% by 2050.
The idea is to identify the most important information about the makeup of each product so that users across the supply chain can reuse it or treat it correctly at waste management facilities.Read More
-reduce environmental pollution and potential health risks, while respecting the principles of the single market and encouraging competitiveness and innovation.
Water Europe is excited to be part of the new Horizon 2020 project ‘ARSINOE- Climate Resilient Regions Through Systemic Solutions and Innovations’ that was officially launched in October 2021. ARSINOE is financed by the European Commission with a total budget of 15 million euros and is coordinated by Prof. Chrysi Laspidou, University of Thessaly. It brings together 41 partners from 15 countries and intends to be a game-changer for shaping pathways to resilience by delivering regional innovation packages that build an ecosystem to develop and implement innovative climate change adaptation measures and solutions across Europe. The kick-off meeting of the project took place in Athens on October 14 and 15, as a hybrid event.
The four-year ARSINOE project will develop a methodological framework for combining the Systems Innovation Approach (SIA) with the Climate Innovation Window (CIW). It will create an ecosystem to meet EU Green Deal targets for specific regions under a three-tier approach:
- integration of multi-faceted technological, digital, business, governance and environmental aspects with social innovation for the development of adaptation pathways to climate change
- linkage with CIW to form innovation packages by matching innovators with end-users/regions
- fostering the ecosystem sustainability and growth with cross-fertilization and replication across scales, at the European level and beyond, using appropriate business models and exploitation-outreach actions.
Nine widely varied regions across Europe will demonstrate the ARSINOE three-tier approach as a proof-of-concept regarding its applicability, replicability, potential and efficacy. The regions are: (i) Athens metropolitan area (EL), (ii) Mediterranean ports including Port of Piraeus (EL), Limassol (CY) and Valencia (ES), (iii) Main river in Germany (DE), (iv) transboundary Ochrid/Prespa lakes (MK, AL, EL), (v) Canary Islands (ES), (vi) transboundary Black Sea including Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey (RO, BG and TR), (vii) Southern Denmark (DK), (viii) Torbay and Devon county (UK) and (ix) the Mediterranean island Sardinia (IT).
Interested in learning more about ARSINOE? Check out the YouTube video to find out more about the project’s concept.
To follow its updates and developments, follow the ARSINOE Twitter account.Read More
Water Europe is glad to release its new position paper on ‘Digitalization and Water’ calling for digital and water-smart infrastructures in the two sectors.
The publication of this new position aspires to stress the interconnections between the digital and the water sector. Developed in the context of Water Europe’s preparation for its involvement in the new Zero Pollution stakeholder platform, the position paper focuses on digitalization as a driver to release Water Europe’s new commitment toward a net-zero Water sector by 2050 but also the necessity to build a European water-smart digital sector.
The EU digital strategy aims to shape Europe’s digital future while benefiting everyone. The moment that digitalization benefits the water sector within its activities, the digital sector also consumes water for its businesses, contributing to increased levels of pressure on our water sources. For instance, Google has a water withdrawal equivalent to the population of Florence.
This document also features several EU projects working on digital innovative solutions for the water sector such as PathoCERT, aqua3S, STOP-IT and AquaSPICE.Read More
The European Commission launched two new online tools to track progress in implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Hosted by the EU Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity, an online actions tracker will provide up-to-date information on the state of implementation of the many actions of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
These tools are essential to monitor progress on the commitments made and central to the Commission’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the EU biodiversity governance framework by constantly improving the knowledge and evidence base for biodiversity policy, increasing accountability for implementation, ensuring transparent and effective progress monitoring and review, and engaging stakeholders across the board in the efforts to deliver the EU biodiversity targets over the coming years.
One indicator for freshwater ecosystems is under development (Target 11), Water indirectly included furthermore in Target 13 “Reducing Pollution.Read More
Called the ULTIMATE Young Professional (UYP) platform, the network has been created as part of the four-year, Horizon2020 ULTIMATE project (indUstry water-utiLiTy symbIosis for a sMarter wATEr society).
In total, the project has selected nine large-scale demonstrations (demo sites) across Europe from the agro-food, beverage, petrochemical, and biotech sectors. From water utilities to whisky distilleries, the partners represent a variety of stakeholders who could benefit from circular economy activities. Check more info here.Read More
Nexus analysis can achieve urban sustainability and integrated policy and action, according the EEA report
The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has published a new report ”Urban Sustainability in Europe: Learning from nexus analysis to present a detailed analysis of eight urban environmental sustainability nexus.
These constitute examples to help understand the complexity of urban systems and explore how, in practice, using nexus analysis can help identifying existing challenges, potential trade-offs and co-benefits on actions to achieve urban sustainability objectives and opportunities to move towards better coordinated and integrated policy and action.
Households as a sector account for 12 % of total annual water use and 27 % of final energy consumption in the EU. Although there is no water nexus included in the report, water is do mentioned on several sub-levels in the context of floods, nature-based solutions, stormwater, water scarcity and droughts, reusing and recycling water, grey water, water & sanitation, wastewater & water pollution etc.