KICs tackling water scarcity in Southern Europe
In The News
26 Feb 2020
How EIT and KICs are working to address one of the biggest threats of the decade
Four Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) – EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food, EIT Manufacturing and EIT Raw Materials – supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Regional Innovation Scheme – have joined forces enhance knowledge and overcome current barriers to tackling water scarcity in Southern Europe through innovation.
Flooding and water scarcity in Europe will increase in the coming decades if the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change are not met. Several studies, including a JRC (Joint Research Centre) study released in 2018, have looked at the impact of the changing climate, land use and water usage on Europe’s water resources. It is known that Southern European countries – particularly Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey – are projected to face increased water shortages.
Thanh-Tâm Lê, Director for Meditteranean at EIT Climate-KIC said:
“Water scarcity and strong water stress are thought to be already affecting more than 200 million citizens around the Mediterranean.
“This is one of the most critical and urgent issues for climate adaptation and resilience in Europe and beyond, which cannot be dealt with in a siloed approach restricted to the water sector alone. It demands manifold interventions integrated in the full systems transformation that we strive to orchestrate in support of Mediterranean, national and regional stakeholders, enabling southern Europe to tackle the threat of climate change at the required speed and scale.”
Significant reductions in groundwater recharge are estimated for Spain, Portugal and Greece, with negative impacts on the environment and water availability for irrigation. Increasing droughts will lead to water scarcity and reduced hydropower potential in the Mediterranean region. This is likely to have a knock-on effect in agriculture, energy, transport and food security. With global freshwater consumption on the increase, European economies are being asked to tackle water scarcity by boosting resilient infrastructure, moving towards more circular economics and by enabling multi-stakeholders governance, as these will determine the competitiveness of the European water industry.
Therefore, water plays a central role in how societies mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. A holistic approach considering water, the biosphere and the anthroposphere is required to provide sustainable agricultural and economic systems that will allow us to decelerate climate change, protect us from extreme weather events, and adapt to the unavoidable at the same time.
In 2020 the KICs will be establishing a group of experts on water scarcity in Southern Europe, delivering focused entrepreneur challenge labs for start-ups and organising the EIT Water Academy for water scarcity challenge education. The KICs will also be running EIT workshops with public bodies and other stakeholders across different regions and communication activities to reach out to citizens and interested stakeholders, engaging in external events and with the media to raise awareness about water scarcity for citizens.
In the upcoming weeks, we will be looking for experts including not only researchers but also policymakers, representatives of NGOs, wider civil society organisations and private industry in who can provide valuable contributions to the multi-stakeholders perspective that we need to tackle these societal challenges.
A call for experts will be launched soon – stay tuned!
About the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme:
Although we share one continent, European countries are divided because of disparities in innovation performance. This has resulted in the classification of European countries in two main groups—innovation leaders and strong innovators versus moderate and modest innovators. One reason for lower innovation performance is weak linkages among the key players—businesses and research institutions and academia, as well as between the private and public sectors, including a systematic approach towards innovation.
As a response to this challenge, the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) was introduced. The EIT RIS is designed for EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries in Europe who are modest and moderate innovators, and where Innovation Communities have few or no partners. Strategically, the Scheme is an additional offer to these countries to facilitate their engagement with the EIT Innovation Communities. The Scheme’s aim is to facilitate the access to services and programmes offered by the EIT Innovation Communities.
Each Innovation Community cooperates with local innovators – individuals such as students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and organisations such as SMEs, universities, research labs, regions, NGOs and cities. The EIT Innovation Communities involve the local players in education, business creation and acceleration activities, as well as innovation-driven research.
If you are interested, please apply to our call for experts here by 29 March 2020.