The Water Innovation Europe 2018 edition dedicated to “The road towards a water-smart society: “Overcoming the water challenges of the future” was concluded on the 14th of June in Brussels, with about 200 participants joining us from the whole water sector.
The two special ingredients woven into the fabric of this year’s programme: a strong and visible inclusion of water in HorizonEurope (FP9) including a possible Mission on Water, and provision of a more central place for water in the governance structures at all levels were enthusiastically received by the water community that was present to prove that the sector can become less fragmented and more united on occasions as such. Patrick Child, Deputy-Director General for Research & Innovation, European Commission opened the conference with his key-note speech, highlighting that the next years will be significant for the water sector and that the new programme Horizon Europe will offer the opportunities that the sector urgently needs.
What are the WIE2018 take-home messages?
Built upon the main concepts of the new WssTP Water Vision 2030, the programme of WIE2018 featured high level speakers and panellists who exchanged insights on how we can overcome the future water challenges and achieve a zero-water stress society.
The outcomes emerged out of the five panel sessions: Water Crises; Water -Smart Industry; Water-Smart Cities; Water-Smart Agriculture; Water-Smart Society, keynote speeches and discussions during the WIE2018 conference can be summarized into the following messages:
- Even though in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2018, the water crises were ranked for the 7th consecutive year among the top 5 global societal risks in terms of impact, the value of water for our society is still not sufficiently recognized.
- The impact puts at risk our well-being, health, food production, and our economy, and may lead to social instability and uncontrolled migration.
- To address the water crises at EU level, water needs to be better anchored in the institutional build-up of the Europe Union in a way that does justice to the value of water for our society and all its different uses (urban, industry, food, and nature). The combination of water and energy in a DG Energy & Water seems the logical way forward. Research and innovation are essential to develop better and more affordable solutions and the complexity of the water crises make water a self-evident topic for a HorizonEurope Mission “Securing water for all”.
The whole WIE 2018 Press-Release can be viewed here.