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Environment: Commission to address water challenges via innovation partnership
The European Commission yesterday proposed to boost innovation to deal with water related challenges by creating a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water. The partnership will bring together all relevant actors across borders and sectors, such as the water sector, small and medium sized enterprises, the research community, local governments, water-using industries, and the financial sector to accelerate the development and uptake of innovative solutions to water challenges. A Strategic Implementation Plan will be developed with key stakeholders to define the priority areas for action. The EIP on Water will seek to align the activities and outcomes of existing European, national and regional activities.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The European Innovation Partnership on Water will help ensure that we can continue to provide safe, available and affordable water for all, by supporting the development of innovative solutions to deal with water challenges – while simultaneously aiming to position Europe as a world leader in water technology and services."
The partnership, announced in a Communication released yesterday, will centre on removing barriers to innovation and connecting the supply and demand sides of water related innovations. The activities of the EIP on Water will be structured around challenges in the areas of urban water management, rural water management and industrial water management, as well as addressing cross cutting themes.
Anticipated outputs of the EIP on water include:
innovation sites to identify barriers to innovation; develop, test and demonstrate concrete activities, actions, prototypes and solutions in relation to particular water challenges;
dissemination of breakthroughs and innovative solutions
removal of water innovation barriers – regulatory, financial, standardization, technical, social, etc. – which hamper the successful delivery of innovations to the market; and
a water innovation 'market place' to promote interaction between those facing water problems and those who can provide potential solutions, regardless of their geographical location.
The EIP on water is expected be fully operational in early 2013 and to start delivering first results within one year.
The Communication on the EIP on Water will now be considered by the Council and the European Parliament. If endorsed, Commissioner Potočnik will invite participants for the High-Level Steering Group for a first meeting before the Summer. The High-Level Steering Group will nominate a Task Force which will draft a Strategic Implementation Plan. Adoption of the Strategic Implementation Plan by the High Level Steering Group is foreseen for December 2012 and aims to be operational in early 2013.
The world water market is growing rapidly and estimated to reach 1 trillion USD by 2020. European water related sectors already operate world-wide in developing innovative water solutions, but often fail to capture their full economic potential. Eliminating the obstacles for market breakthroughs and promoting Europe's comparative advantages in the innovation value chain will help companies to bring their solutions to the market and reap related rewards. Unlocking the innovation potential in the field of water management could significantly contribute to job creation and competitiveness in Europe. A 1 % increase of the rate of growth of the water industry in Europe could create up to 20,000 new jobs.
European Innovation Partnerships, proposed by the Europe 2020 Innovation Union flagship initiative, aim to speed up innovations that contribute to solving societal challenges, enhance Europe's competitiveness and contribute to job creation and economic growth. EIPs help to pool expertise and resources by bringing together public and private actors at EU, national and regional level, combining supply- and demand-side measures.
The EIP on Water is linked to the Europe 2020 Resource efficient Europe flagship initiative which underlines the importance of the sustainable management of water. It will build on the Eco-Innovation Action Plan, which focuses on boosting innovations that reduce pressure on the environment and on bridging the gap between innovation and the market. Innovation is also identified as a key tool to support the policy options to be developed by the Blueprint to protect Europe's water resources – the EU’s response to the ongoing vulnerability of the water environment – to be issued in November 2012.
Link to Communication on the European innovation Partnership on Water: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/innovationpartnership/pdf/com_2012_216.pdf
More background information on the EIP on Water can be found on: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/innovationpartnership/index_en.htm