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Challenges and Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation in the Water Sector Throughout Europe

Author(s): P. Balabanis

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Keywords: No keywords

Abstract: In today’s world where intensive use of the world’s resources puts pressure on our planet and threatens economic prosperity, growth and jobs, innovative solutions are needed to help us using our resources more efficiently and anticipate more complex demands. Global change, population increase, urbanization are particularly challenging the sustainability of water resources. For the last three consecutive years, the Global Risk report of the World Economic Forum puts water systematically as one of the highest risks that could undermine economic growth. Citizens, societies, agriculture and industries wil increasingly need innovative solutions to meet the need of using water in a more efficient and effective way Innovative thinking and smarter use of innovation have the potential to bring new solutions quickly and efficiently to the market while responding to the needs of end users in urban, rural and industrial areas. Innovative solutions to water related challenges can directly support wider environmental objectives such as protecting our natural capital and ecosystems, and the biodiversity that supports these. In addition, solutions with regard to drinking water and waste water treatment are to the benefit of public health, which in turn will generate significant savings. Furthermore, solutions to improve protection of, and in, flood-prone areas will enhance public safety and prevent potentia economic losses. Water has been an important activity in successive European Research and Development Framework Programmes over the last decades. Horizon 2020, the current 2014–2020 European Union funding programme for research and innovation, expands the scope of previous water research activities, by addressing the whole chain of research and innovations with the aim of unlocking the innovation potential in the field of water management. In line with Horizon 2020 objectives, a ded icated focus area “Water innovation: boosting it value for Europe” has been identified in the firs Horizon 2020 work programme (2014–2015). Thisfocus area addressed demonstration and market replication activities for eco-innovative, integrated and cross-sectoral solutions for water management. In the second Horizon 2020 work programme actions to boost water innovation for Europe and beyond will be addressed in the areas of the circular economy, sustainable cities, climate services, territorial resilience etc., as well as in other parts of Horizon 2020. Actions strengthening the role of water in the circular economy will be particularly promoted. In this context large scale demonstration/pilot projects, exhibiting a sufficient level of novelty and progress with respect to the state of the art and aiming to implement and test new technological and non-technological solutions through first-of-a-kind experimental development under real solutions, are foreseen. These project should also act as a way to attract most interest from innovators and innovation users (e.g. industries, financial actors, academia, research, private or public entities, regions, cities, citizens and their organizations, etc. ), thus helping to unlock additional public/private investments in the water sector and strengthen complementary or synergies with other relevant EU funding mechanisms and initiates, especially, the European Innovation Partnership and Joint Programming Initiative on Water.

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Year: 2016

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