Water vision and challenges
In a changing world, the EU aims to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Europe2020 is a special call for action to treat people and the natural environment as its greatest assets. Water is the life blood running through the veins of our society and appeals to all three targets of Europe2020 – smart, sustainable and inclusive growth – alike. Water is an input to almost all production, in agriculture, industry, energy, transport, by healthy people and in healthy eco-systems. It cannot be substituted.
Worldwide water and its related services are under increasing pressure due to demographic growth and urbanization, increasing globalization and wealth, and climate change. As a consequence many countries face water scarcity as a fundamental challenge to their economic and social development. Few people realise the tremendous importance of advanced water supply and sanitation services and integrated water management with respect to both, economic development, and safeguarding health and survival while millions of people are displaced; many perish for lack of water or endure regional conflicts over water resources.
Investments in water can be an engine for accelerated economic growth, sustainable development, improved health and reduced poverty. Therefore, water is regarded as an economic sector of growing importance for Europe. Riding on top of the wave of new and significant market opportunities can be done by positioning Europe as a global market leader in related innovation and technology.
However, the main challenge of the European water sector is fragmentation. Water resources and water services are often managed locally. This fragmentation is an obstacle for developing a common research and innovation strategy for a competitive water sector.
WssTP identifies fragmentation as a hurdle to innovation. ‘Overcoming the fragmentation’ in the water sector is one of the key tasks of our platform.
WssTP personalizes all the European water sector?
Those who have power have water; those who have water have power. All over the world water is in great demand: everybody wants and needs it because it is the basis of life.
Water supply, storm water drainage, wastewater collection and treatment, as well as quality and quantity management of natural water resources need to be efficiently secured or, where necessary, improved. Only through a paradigm shift from fragmented towards integrated urban water management economic development, social balance and ecological integrity can be secured.
Α great number of companies, many of them SMEs, produce appliances needed to provide high quality water services to people, industry and agriculture. Given the global needs these companies have the potential to become be major competitors on the international market.
The European water sector is a major economic player (1% of GDP) with a turnover in the EU of about 80 billion Euro and an average growth rate of 5% per year, compared to 2.5% per year average growth rate for the EU economy.
Ιn various European regions, there is already a shortage of readily treatable water resources. This shortage will further increase due to climate change, pollution and competition between water users. New water technologies are an important part of the answer to this challenge.
The European water sector needs to develop ‘a curiosity for innovation’. The water industry is too slow in studying and eventually adopting new technologies.
The World Water Council states: “Without major technological innovations there is little hope of bringing the water equation into balance. There is no doubt that many technological changes can help improve services for millions and reduce the stress on water systems around the world.”
To remain in the forefront of this competitive business, innovation skills are essential. The sector must learn to innovate and should enhance its capacity to cope with economical, demographic, behavioral and climatic changes.
WssTP addresses these needs by bringing together the leading actors of the water sector: multinational corporations; universities and research institutes; utilities (public and private); the supply chain and SMEs; and large industrial and agricultural water users, enabling a strong cooperation along the entire value chain and thus, fostering ‘innovation’ within all its facets.