Dear Water Europe family,
2021 and the pandemic, continue to move on. So, do luckily also the different vaccination strategies, designed and implemented, albeit in months still to come, for EU citizens to be able to come back to a more normal life, which should mean that the milestone of meeting again in person, which is one of the nice and rewarding characteristics of our platform, is coming closer.
Covid permitting, and for the time being still in full digital format, we are moving ahead with the preparations for the Spring Edition of our Water Knowledge Europe event. On the 2nd of February, we had a great start with the preparatory HEU webinars dedicated to the opportunities for water-related projects under different clusters of the HEU Work Programme that will formally be launched at the beginning of April.
The preparatory webinars will be running until the 12th of March and then the discussion will continue at the WKE2021 main programme where speakers from DG RTD, DG CONNECT, DG ENV, EASME LIFE, COSME etc will be present. The agenda is almost complete and without exaggeration, this is one of the best ever organised programmes, targeted at offering participants a full overview of all the main EU funding programmes for 2021. I hope our members will share this view once WKE2021 is over, and that attendance will be again, as usual, massive.
While all this is going on, and at the same time, our Working Groups are organising their online meetings that will be held from the 15th of March and during the main Water Knowledge Europe 2021 week.
Last week, the MEP Water Group organised a very successful online session on ‘Perspectives and Agenda for Water in the coming years’ with over 800 participants. Virginijus Sinkevičius, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries gave a keynote speech on the role of water for the European Environmental policy. Among the key messages of the discussion was that we need to connect water to other sectors and develop new ways to work together to spread the water agenda. Again, and again, water proves to be everyone’s business.
Having participated in the European Commission’s consultation on Zero Pollution Action Plan, Water Europe contributed to this discussion with its new position paper on Zero Pollution Action Plan: A First step towards a Blue Deal for a Water-Smart Society. In addition to the measures encouraged by Water Europe in its policy-oriented positions on the Water Framework Directive, the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, and the Industrial Emission Directive, the Zero Pollution Action Plan must contribute to mobilise finance for a Water-Smart Europe; tackle the weakness of the water-related legislations; fully master water efficiency and reused challenges by 2050 and accelerate the development of digital water by 2050.
A full year of pandemic is taking already a psychological toll on some. Water Europe has adapted, and has continued the move on, with renewed strength and proposals. I have no doubt we will come out much stronger, and better prepared out of this. I would like to encourage all of you to stay positive, and specially to continue to support WE, as well as participate in our events, taking full advantage of the digital portfolio we have designed for you.
Stay healthy, stay connected…..Read More
On February 22, in the margins of the fifth UN Environment Assembly, the EU, teaming up with the United Nations Environment Programme and in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, launched the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE). The Alliance is one of the deliverables of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan.
Launching the Alliance, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “The transition to a resource-efficient, clean and circular economy is increasingly recognised as a must to address the ecological crises the world is confronted with. The circular economy offers opportunities for spurring innovation and making the transition more equitable by creating green jobs and lowering environmental impacts. With today’s launch of the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency, the EU shows its commitment to work on those matters globally.”
Bringing together governments and relevant networks and organisations, GACERE aims to provide a global impetus for initiatives related to the circular economy transition, resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production. It will build on efforts being deployed internationally and put the EU at the forefront of the green transition. Eleven countries (Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Rwanda and South Africa) and the EU have joined the Alliance to date.Read More
The LIFE programme is an EU fund entirely dedicated to environmental and climate objectives where water represents the main enabler and, at the same time, the biggest challenge. The conservation of nature and biodiversity remains the most important area of action for the LIFE Programme. To this end, new type of projects, the “strategic nature projects”, are introduced to support complex actions in Member States for the mainstreaming of nature and biodiversity policy objectives into other EU policies.
Cross-border European projects with potential for replicability and leveraging large investments will be prioritized. The new LIFE Programme will be premiered by the EC at Water Knowledge Europe Spring Edition on 23rd March. Do not miss this opportunity to get brand-new key information on the new LIFE Programme!
For more information, please contact Andrea Rubini.
The 2021 edition of EU Green Week is coming back from 31 May to 4 June 2021, with Partner Events taking place between 3 May and 13 June. This edition will be dedicated to the ‘zero pollution ambition’.
Therefore, it will also look at other relevant European Green Deal initiatives, such the climate initiatives and the upcoming Chemicals Strategy, as well as initiatives in the fields of energy, industry, mobility, agriculture, fisheries, health and biodiversity. EU Green Week 2021 will be an opportunity to engage with all stakeholders and interested citizens (that means you!) on how we can work together to make the ambition for a zero pollution and toxic-free environment a reality.
If you are organizing an event related to environmental topics, you can also contribute to a Zero Pollution Europe by registering as an EU Green Week Partner Event. Any kind of event is welcome, from conferences and workshops to exhibitions, webinars, networking and online events. Activities can take place at all levels (local, regional, national or European), online, offline or in hybrid format.
The EU Green Week is the annual opportunity to debate and discuss European environmental policy. Organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment, this key event in the environment policy calendar attracts policy makers, leading environmentalists, stakeholders and other interested parties from across Europe and around the globe.Read More
New Position Paper: Zero Pollution Action Plan – A First Step towards a Blue Deal for a Water-Smart Society
Today, the European Commission closes its online public consultation on the Zero Pollution Action Plan with a digital stakeholder workshop. Having participated in this consultation, Water Europe is glad to contribute to this discussion with its new position paper on Zero Pollution Action Plan: A First step to a Blue Deal towards a Water-Smart Society.
Water Europe welcomes the Zero Pollution Strategy objectives, particularly considering its holistic approach and the importance to “prevent, remedy, restore, and monitor” the pollution in water. This is an initiative that should break the silo approach between environment-economy-health and pave the way for a Water Deal that considers the value of water.
The European Commission must take the opportunity of the Zero-Pollution Strategy to impose a comprehensive water strategy crossed-cutting all DGs’ portfolios. Water efficiency will be the new frontline for Europe, and this requires bold and courageous decisions, investment, changes and new types of collaborations for stakeholders at all levels of society, involving citizens, public authorities, industries, farmers and NGOs.
In addition to the measures encouraged by Water Europe in its policy-oriented positions on the Water Framework Directive, the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, and the Industrial Emission Directive, the Zero Pollution Action Plan must contribute to:
1. Mobilising finance for a Water-Smart Europe
2. Tackling the weaknesses of the water-related legislations
3. Fully mastering water efficiency and reused challenges by 2050
4. Accelerating the development of digital water by 2050.Read More
ZERO BRINE releases a new policy brief showing how zerobrine technology can successfully promote a zero pollution strategy
ZERO BRINE Project has released a new policy paper “Benefits of the ZEROBRINE technology for a successful zero pollution strategy“. Within this policy brief, ZERO BRINE highlights several benefits for a successful Zero Pollution Strategy with several impacts that demonstrate the importance to consider the white spot that brine management is included in this European action plan.
ZERO BRINE proposes a circular economy approach to reduce the negative impacts of brine from process industries and to create economic
value from the reuse of mineral salts, containing sodium, magnesium, calcium, sulphates, bicarbonates, and fresh water. ZERO BRINE demonstrates the use of a combination of existing and new technologies for recovery and reuse of both the material constituents as well as energy such as waste heat.
The Zero Pollution Ambition for a toxic-free environment is a new European strategy which aims to prevent and reduce pollution in water,
air and soil and also facilitate remediation. Paired with the objectives to address industrial pollution, the specific action plan wants to fill in the white spots in the EU legislation, improve the monitoring processes and also contribute to smarter legislation.
Our aqua3S project organizes the Workshop’Market needs on Water security standardization’ during the Water Knowledge Europe 2021 Spring Edition
aqua3S will host the Workshop ‘Market needs on Water security standardization’ during the Water Knowledge Europe event 2021 Spring Edition, happening on March 29 from 10:00 to 12:00 CET.
The workshop will focus on water security crisis management requires European harmonization on addressing the way information is collected and managed at EU level.
The European Standard Body CEN is doing active and good job to produce many EU standards to help addressing these issues. However, the standardization process with the necessary consolidation approach all over Europe could be considered too slow when it concerns to include new technologies which continuously develop with short cycles. Therefore, the AQUA-3S project aims to facilitate the contributions to standardization committees in bringing market consolidated views on how to harmonize the integration of new technologies such as sensors, drones, etc into existing standards. Therefore, the workshop intends to identify such market needs. See the agenda and register to the event.
Exposure of citizens to potential disasters has led to vulnerable societies that require risk reduction measures. Drinking water is one of the main risk sources when its safety and security are not ensured. aqua3S project steps in to combine novel technologies in water safety and security, aiming to standardize existing sensor technologies complemented by state-of-the-art detection mechanisms.Read More
The five Water Europe Innovation Awards 2020 winners share what happened after they received the awards. Who are they? What are their innovative water-related approaches, solutions, and technologies? The five Winners of the WIE2020 Awards are:
– Water Technology & Infrastructure Award: IDRICA.
– Digital Water Award: DELTARES.
– SMEs Award: BLUEPHAGE.
– Global Water Challenges Award: The Montfort University Leicester.
– Water Governance Award: WeCo.
The Awards raise the visibility of new innovative water-related approaches, solutions, and technologies with high market or high-value application potential. Water Europe strives to support the implementation of the Water Europe Vision “The value of water: towards a future-proof model for a European water-smart society”.Read More
Hans Goossens, Water Europe First Vice-President talks to us about his election, priorities & steps ahead
Following your election as the first Vice-President of Water Europe, could you tell us a few words on how you see this new role?
With the new board structure with five vice-presidents, we bring our members’ representation closer to the operational heart of our organisation. As a member-based platform, I think it is of vital importance to understand the needs and fulfil the expectations of our members. The new governance structure will allow us to do this even better than we have done, so far. I’m grateful to see how our member base has grown throughout the last years, but there is no reason to get complacent. The challenges for the water sector are big, and so are the opportunities. Our members are eager to find the right partners to turn their knowledge into new insights, to turn their ideas into new technologies and to get the support of an empowering legal framework in order to build new sustainable businesses. Water Europe wants to be the forum where all this happens! In my new role, I want to strengthen our association as an engine of innovation and transformation, inspiring not only members but also all stakeholders to build a water-smart European society.
What are your Water Europe priorities and what activities you foresee for their implementation?
When looking ahead, clean water and its access to, have never been so key to societal development and welfare building as in this era. Fighting the COVID pandemic is a true short term priority, but in the medium and long run, the flourishing of our society very much will depend on how successful we will be in making our water supply climate-resilient. This will in the first line not that much depend on Water Europe, but more on the actability, agility and not at least on the impactability of our members. I believe this is where Water Europe truly adds value and can make a big difference. Based on the network we are, based on the diversity of knowledge and expertise we bring together, based on the voice we have to mobilize society, we will support our members to get things happen! So I see the priority of Water Europe to understand even better where it can support its members, with knowledge, with insights, with relationships, with influence. We need to build our organisation as a stakeholder centric organisation. Thought leadership is just not enough to make the impact that our members are striving for. We need to increase our inclusiveness, and unlock even more commitment and creativity. I want Water Europe to conduct an in-depth exercise on our stakeholders’ experience, how we can accelerate the realisation of their ambitions to build a water-smart society and what they need for doing so.
Which ones do you consider the strongest tools of Water Europe in its effort to achieve a Water-Smart Society?
Our “Holy Bible” is our Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA): it is our stronghold, inspiring policy makers, researchers, technology developers, water service providers and water management authorities to join forces in building a sustainable, robust, resilient and dynamic water-smart society for Europe while strengthening Europe’s contribution to global societal challenges and the global water market. Our “Holy Trinity” are our Collaboration Programme, our Advocacy Programme and our Market Programme. Our Collaboration Programme allows our members to network and collaborate with all players in the eco-system to address the water challenges and shape successful project consortia; our Advocacy Programme makes sure that the value of water for our society is reflected in European policies and funding programmes and our Market Programme enables our members to bring their research results and innovative solutions to the market in Europe and beyond.
The water sector is very much fragmented. As the representative platform of the water sector, how do you see Water Europe strengthening its involvement of many different actors?
This is where Water Europe has a truly unique position. We bring together problem owners and solution providers, we make sure knowledge generators can meet technology developers, we channel citizens’ concerns and interests and bring them to policy makers – we are not just a voice, we make a full choir. Rather than fragmented, I hear a polyphonic ensemble. By the way, being Flemish, I am very much fond of polyphonic music. It lets us discover the beauty of the individual within the harmony of the collectiveness. Dissonance generates creativity, just as the conflict of ideas generates innovation. I see the role and involvement of Water Europe as the one of a conductor – our members play the music, and we let the magic happen!Read More
Dear Water Europe family,
I sincerely hope that 2021 will be a much better year than 2020. That should not be so difficult. I also ambition that we will be able, albeit in months still to come, to start to meet again in person, which is one of our platform’s nice and rewarding characteristics.
Water Europe is all about coming together, collaborating, getting the job done, and letting the rest of the world know of the centrality and importance of water. 2021 will see many familiar and but also new WE activities and events, along with our new digital tweaks.
We are in the process of organising the Water Knowledge Europe 2021 spring edition, to fit with the new Calls for Proposals of the Horizon Europe (HEU) R&I FP, which this time will also include two well-known modules, Water Market Europe & Water Projects Europe. This new format is ideal for fostering the market outreach of innovative solutions and policy developments for a Water-Smart Europe. The event’s main programme will take place from the 23rd to the 26th of March digitally, while pre-event webinars on the most interesting groups of Calls for Proposals will be starting from the 2nd of February.
In the meantime, our community is already in full swing. A first well-attended online meeting of our WG Industrial Water Reuse took place this month with the European Commission’s participation to exchange on the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). The good news is that Water Europe has been accepted as a stakeholder representing the water sector in the art 13 Forum of the IED.
Also, of your interest, our vertical Vision Leadership Teams have already met twice this year to discuss their next actions regarding Water-Oriented Living Labs, and online Working Group meetings will be held from the 15th of March and during the main Water Knowledge Europe 2021 week.
Trying to cope with new BREXIT conditions, the European Union and the United Kingdom have reached an agreement on Trade and Cooperation, which we welcome. However, as we see it, the EU seems to have missed yet another opportunity to place water at the level of importance it deserves, this time omitting in this new trade and cooperation agreement to set new standards regarding virtual water imports and exports, thus not fully considering the Value of Water. Beyond not recognizing the Value of Water, we still have work to do, EU business and an adequate competitive environment are at stake. Water Europe addressed this issue in its new position paper ‘Brexit Deal – A missed opportunity to make European trade agreement Water-Smart’.
I am very fond of this month’s interview because innovation is and should always be, the ultimate destination of all we do and defend. We have the pleasure to feature a video with our 2020 Award winners who talk to us about their progress and developments since they were awarded during Water Innovation Europe 2020 last June.
Let 2021 be friendlier to all of you and your loved ones. Water is our craft and job. Let’s keep the spirits high, take care and …stay healthy.Read More