Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Projects & Results Service
  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BlueSCities (Blueprints for Smart Cities: Developing the methodology for a coordinated approach to the integration of the water and waste sectors within the EIP Smart Cities and Communities)

BlueSCities Report Summary

Project ID: 642354
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.5.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BlueSCities (Blueprints for Smart Cities: Developing the methodology for a coordinated approach to the integration of the water and waste sectors within the EIP Smart Cities and Communities)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2016-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

BlueSCities is a Horizon 2020 project which is building on the hitherto successful implementation of the EIP Water Action Group: City Blueprints ( and the City Blueprint itself developed by Professor Kees van Leeuwen and his team at KWR. ( Coordinated by the Fundació CTM, the project consortia is developing the methodology for a coordinated approach to the integration of the water and waste sectors within the 'Smart Cities and Communities' EIP. It is identifying synergies in accordance with the Smart City concept and complements other priority areas such as energy, transport and ICT. Placing emphasis on local solutions for global issues, BlueSCities seeks improved public engagement and enhanced decision-making processes at all political levels based on scientific knowledge and adequate social and economic awareness.
Smart Cities can only provide local solutions to global issues when those cities who are actively implementing actions which involve the use of IT in order to better analyse, plan, implement and assess policies aimed at creating a more sustainable urban development develop a coherent long-term and above all, integrated strategy and implementation plan which considers not only transport, energy and ICT but also waste management solid waste, climate adaptation (heat islands, urban flooding and water scarcity), water supply and waste water treatment.
People in urban environments need green and blue space. Healthy, attractive and liveable cities should become the long-term goal for all municipal stakeholders in Europe. The challenges which as a society we face in order to achieve this urban dream are numerous and important.
Rapid population growth leads to higher water withdrawals which are predicted to increase by 50% by 2025 in developing countries (SIWI 2012; UNESCO 2012). Competing demands for scarce water resources may lead to an estimated 40 % supply shortage by 2030 (2030 Water Resources Group 2009) a situation which has prompted the World Economic Forum (2014) to identify the water supply crisis as one of the top three global risks.
A recent UNEP (2013) report concluded that in relation to urban infrastructures, a total of US$41 trillion is required to refurbish the old (in mainly developed country cities) and build new (mainly in the developing country cities) urban infrastructures during the period between 2005 and 2030. Of this amount, more than 50% would need to be allocated to water systems. This is a future investment that must be made. The demand and need are too great to ignore. Therefore governments must prove to be proactive, investing in the future, capable of understanding the social and economic advantages of a long-term vision as opposed to the reactive and ad hoc reality which we are all too accustomed to.
To date, the work undertaken to safeguard Europe’s water resources has not recognised the importance of the role of cities (or municipalities in general). There are examples of successful actions where the involvement of many and varied local stakeholders through the work of municipal and regional administrations has resulted in the direct participation of numerous sectors of society in international issues. The Covenant of Mayors promoted by the European Commission is an example of a long-term vision mechanism which has resulted in improved citizen awareness, efficient market growth and essential knowledge transfer mechanisms. Nevertheless, it is also important to state that the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (2013) whilst working efficiently on how to create the right framework conditions in order to make our cities better places to live and to do business in, to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and congestion has failed notably to consider that water and waste need, as sectors, to be integrated within the strategic implementation plan of Smart Cities in order to address the full issue of sustainable communities.
Having established 8 principal objectives, BlueSCities seeks to redress this situation and is producing the necessary socio-technological tools which will permit administrations and stakeholders to appreciate the complete picture and act accordingly. The objectives are as follows:
1. To focus on the need to integrate water and waste within the smart city approach, as defined by the Smart Cities and Communities Strategic Implementation Plan.
2. To ensure improved exchange synergies between researchers and users, decision-makers and consumers, industry, SMEs and national and international authorities.
3. To put to practical purpose the CITY BLUEPRINT whereby a baseline assessment of the sustainability of water management in a city is produced providing the data required for a practicable planning cycle at all political levels. To create, based on the same premise a CITY AMBERPRINT which provides an analysis of Energy, Transport and ICT in the municipality in question.
4. To assess the current situation, produce case studies of Helsinki, Istanbul, Genoa and Athens, provide tools for integration and implementation, stakeholder engagement and international networking whilst emphasizing the dialogue between different levels of public administration and the different sectors engaged directly or indirectly in the EIP Smart Cities and Communities.
5. To produce a Blue City Atlas, entitled The Pan-European Atlas of Urban water management and a self-assessment baseline assessment tool for water and waste, energy, transport and ICT in cities in order to enhance the implementation of European Smart City activities.
6. To provide data and formulate sufficient recommendations in order to produce a practical guidance document which will be developed and distributed to relevant stakeholders emphasizing how to support integration between water and waste within the concepts of the Smart Cities SIP.
7. To provide recommendations for further research and technological work in a complementary publication and organise practical training courses which will be employed to further demonstrate the need to involve strategic sectors at distinct European Political levels.
8. To establish the issues of water and waste within the consciousness of citizens and city governors as a critical Smart City component fostering consensus in the participating cities on developing further the policy orientation of the project, likely to influence the smart cities agenda in the years to come with relation to water and waste.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In order to ensure the successful integration of water and waste within the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities it has been necessary during the first twelve months of the BlueSCities project to a establish a general framework in order to fully understand the possibilities and obstacles of the project’s approach and having achieved that to produce the principal results detailed below.
To that end, the first year of BlueSCities has produced a report entitled Regulatory and Integrative aspects in smart cities, which constitutes a critical analysis of the relationships between water and waste with (1) energy, (2) transport and (3) ICT in their regulatory and operational contexts. The aim of the paper was to support the optimisation of current sector procedures into integrative approaches, both technological and administrative, but with emphasis placed on the former, which are beneficial for improved resource efficiency, with regards to use, cost and time. The report was based principally on literature and expert interviews (city planners, sectoral research institutes, consultants and key stakeholders at local, regional, national, and European level) conducted in several countries each providing a regional or local perspective. It demonstrates that there exist examples of productive sector integration resulting in improved efficiency and costs but that such cases are few and far between. The principal obstacle to more frequent sectorial integration is not innovation or technology but rather the lack of regulatory drivers, incentives and governance.
Whilst writing Regulatory and Integrative aspects in smart cities, two other deliverables were prepared. The Compendium of best practices for water, waste water, solid waste and climate adaptation explores existing best practices related to water demand management, water reuse and recycling, water and energy, leakage and loss reduction, as well as solid waste collection and recycling, climate adaptive urban planning and business models for the integration of water and waste. The conclusions of the paper are important and offer four clear messages. To begin with, it demonstrates that there exist technologies and approaches which are capable of increasing the performance of current urban water services and of improving the resilience of cities whilst reflecting on the fact that the simpler the technology, the more likely it is to be adopted by a regional or municipal authority. The report however also states that more advanced approaches should not be ignored when their implementation is supported by qualified expertise and that there are megatrends and challenges which still require technological innovation. Secondly, the report in considering the enormous costs of urban water infrastructure (Between 1.8 and 2.5% of the annual global GDP is needed for implementation of water-related sustainable development goals) states that such costs also produce important economic, environmental and social returns on a global scale (The investment would generate a net annual benefit of US$ 734 billion according to the UN University in 2013). With regards to water and waste governance, the aforementioned Compendium of best practices for water, waste water, solid waste and climate adaptation is very much in line with the OECD reports on Water Governance published in 2011 and 2016. It argues that municipalities benefit from a coherent long-term social, economic and ecological agenda, that the inter-sectorial barriers must be overcome and policies integrated and that the creation of co-benefits, social innovation and the application of a circular economy are essential requirements. Finally, the report reflects the essence of the BlueSCities project which it has inherited from the previous work carried out by Professor Kees van Leeuwen and the EIP WATER Action Group: City Blueprints. This basic premise is that cities can and must learn from each other, actively sharing their knowledge. This is demonstrated when the best practices identified by the City Blueprints of municipalities are combined through collaboration in order to create ‘Blue Cities’.
The City Blueprint concept itself was the subject of the third report. The original methodology, developed by KWR which provided a standardised indicator framework for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) at a municipal level and which in turn led to the creation of the visually effective and easy-to-interpret spider graphs, has been improved. Published under the title, Application of the Improved City Blueprint Framework in 45 municipalities and regions the works presents a City Blueprint which consists of 25 indicators grouped into six categories. A Trends and Pressures Framework (TPF) has been created whereby the social, financial and environmental realities are analysed, thus serving placing into context the results shown in a City Blueprint. The accuracy of the City Blueprint data was analysed carefully and three indicators which refer specifically to solid waste treatment were included. The revised indicators are equally weighted and the general result is a balanced one. The simple graphical representation of the 25 indicators allows for a clear, easily communicated overview of cities. More than ever, it is a tool capable of informing decision makers and hitherto uninvolved stakeholders so that they may better create stakeholder and citizen awareness, consensus and thus guarantee the full implementation of transitions towards water-wise cities. The different scores which have resulted from the study of 45 cities and regions instead of creating civic rivalry are designed to permit a practicable comparison and exchange of local and regional idiosyncrasies which when shared via the virtual and non-virtual channels of communication established can aid the creation of effective and better balanced approaches to answering the distinct problems which local governments must face.
For this reason, the BlueSCities Workshop in Dubrovnik held between the 24th and 25th of September, 2015 was entitled Winning by Twinning and took as its central theme improved exchange synergies between cities that have been involved in BlueSCities and a number who were new to the concept from regions such as the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, specifically, Palestine and Jordan. The participants were introduced to BlueSCities concepts, the City Blueprint and explored means of cooperation with experts from the UN, the European Commission, and academic representatives from Europe and the USA. Most importantly, a joint document entitled the Dubrovnik Declaration of Intent in which signatories state their willingness to work together in future actions so that citizen awareness and citizen engagement at a municipal level becomes a major factor in the war on drought and other water-based crisis was created, discussed and signed. The first practical results of Dubrovnik consisting of the organisation of classes for school pupils aged from 6-12 have been dramatic with the active participation, in what has become an example of a Science-Art-Diplomacy approach, of cities such as Amman, Jerusalem, Manresa, London, Sf. Gheorghe, Galatie, Larissa, Helsinki, Leicester, Genoa and Istanbul. The drawings that the children have sent to the BlueSCities project will feature as part of The Pan-European Atlas on Urban Water Management.
One of the most important aspects of the work of BlueSCities during the first twelve months has been the creation of the City Amberprint which has been developed based on the philosophy of the City Blueprint. The City Amberprint described in the publication Metodology to assess the ICT, Transport and Energy aspects of a city consists of 22 indicators which assess a city’s performance with regards to the hitherto traditional smart city sectors. The result is that BlueSCities now has the means to assess all the components of a city which are required in order to become truly sustainable. Furthermore, during the first year, the team at CTM led by Frederic Clarens have created a BlueSCities independent analysis software which permits municipalities to produce and learn from their own City Blueprint and City Amberprint, making the work of the project consortium both accessible and practical, sufficiently detailed to be of interest to the expert, yet sufficiently simple so as to be accessible to the interested layman. All of the abovementioned methodology and advances have been applied to the study of four case-study cities: Helsinki, Istanbul, Athens and Genoa so that the combined results will contribute greatly to the creation of the Practical Guidance Document which is to be finalised during the second year of the BlueSCities project.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The activity of the BlueSCities consortium during the first twelve months of work has resulted in the revision of the City Blueprint concept, incorporating waste and refining the original indicators whilst simultaneously expanding the scope of the experience with the incorporation of the the City Amberprint in order to reflect the smart city approach adopted to date by municipalities. The most efficient methods for collecting and processing the information have been developed and assessed and together with the application of the BlueSCities independent analysis software and the future publication of the BlueSCities Practical Guidance manual these elements constitute a comprehensive procedure so that administrations at all levels can effectively combine sectors into a coherent sustainable long-term policy plan. The BlueSCities approach identifies best practices for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, its objectives contributing to the sustainable water management and resources recovery (energy and nutrients) from waste water which will have a significant effect on water quality in Europe.
BlueSCities is already promoting both its methodology, its knowledge and its philosophy to other strategic partners and countries. The Smart City Policy of the European Commission did not contemplate water, waste and climate adaptation within the scope of its objectives. BlueSCities has publically been advocating a change in this attitude which can only result in what Professor Kees van Leeuwen rightly describes as ‘a maximization of missed opportunities’ for cities. It is true that the European Commission has recently modified its approach but it is equally true that the EIP Smart Cities and Communities do not contemplate integrating water and waste into their Strategic Implementation Plan. The European Commission launched an action plan for the Circular Economy which bodes well and the transition of the Covenant of Mayors to Mayors Adapt, whereby the original concept is expanded in order to include climate adaptation, is a positive measure.
This political modification is beneficial for the future socio-economic impact of BlueScities, just as BlueSCities is furnishing stakeholders with the means to achieve supranational goals through local implementation. The project is in a position to support a broader and more integrative approach to the future development of urban communities by linking the aforementioned sectors, promoting blue and green spaces and involving people, the man in the street, the voter and thus the guarantor of policy continuity through its work on citizen engagement and international networking as demonstrated by the activities described in the paper The Citizen Engagement Guidelines and the effect of the Dubrovnik Declaration of Intent both in Europe and beyond. As a result of the latter, BlueSCities has been able to initiate citizen awareness activities in Jordan, culminating in an exhibition of children’s paintings at the City Hall of Amman, which was inaugurated by the Minister of the Environment, The United Kingdom, Spain, Romania, Israel, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Finland, Croatia and Bulgaria. All of the Dubrovnik participants are now close followers of the projects’ results and activities thus fulfilling the project’s ambition to form a learning alliance and community of best-practices thus shortening the innovation value change and market uptake of innovative water and waste management and treatment technologies.
The principal thinking behind BlueSCities is guidance on good governance in the areas of water and waste within an integrated Smart or Intelligent City approach. The project adheres to what Hahn declared when he said that “technology alone would not bring about any wonders. Good governance and the active involvement of citizens in the development of new organization models for a new generation of services and a greener and healthier lifestyle are also important.” The dissemination of the BlueScities approach through Science cafés, school events, and its publications is contributing to align existing municipal models and initiatives whilst strongly facilitating improved interregional and inter-municipal knowledge sharing. By involving cities who are not project partners but who have signed the Dubrovnik Declaration of Intent, BlueSCities is creating an exportable European strategy within and beyond its territory which has attracted the attention and in some cases active support of the Commission itself, the OECD and the Union for the Mediterranean, as well as providing the basis for the newly created Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN) in the United States, led by the State University of Colorado.
BlueSCities is contributing to the aims of the EIP on Water so much so that as a project it has featured prominently in the aforementioned entity’s events and has received the public recognition of the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karemenu Vella. Having now developed a practical methodology, BlueSCities demonstrates, and will continue to do so even more effectively during its second year, how to overcome the barriers to sustainable approaches for water, waste water and solid waste, which to date has been, at best, fragmented.
The full effects of the project’s impact will be observed in the next twelve months and beyond. Nevertheless, the project is making an important contribution to increasing understanding and awareness at local, regional and national levels of best-practices in Urban Water Cycle Services and Waste management procedures. BlueSCities will, once it has edited the Practical Guidance Manual and effected the remaining work plan become an important methodology to guarantee the improved preparedness and planning capacities of all the relevant actors as well as to support the aims of the Circular Economy Package (CEP) which, in turn, will create new opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as future policies aimed at the maintenance and improvement of employment and economic gains.

Related information

Record Number: 190033 / Last updated on: 2016-11-03