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Closing the water gap


The action will support delivering on priorities identified in the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda of the Water Joint Programming Initiative (JPI), by pooling together the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing a joint call for proposals resulting in grants to third parties with EU co-funding. The joint call should address research and innovation to support the implementation of EU water policy, in particular on the thematic area “Closing the Water Cycle Gap” of the Water JPI Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, specifically the sub-themes of Enabling Sustainable Management of Water Resources; and Strengthening Socio-economic Approaches to Water Management. Water resources observation and modelling will be required to better understand hydrological processes and to analyse and forecast the effect of management options, in order to support improved decision-making to ensure the long-term viability of water resources and to enable the integrated management of water resources at the national, basin, and global scales. Observation and modelling should also help to mobilise investments into innovation water management and use solutions in line with the objective of creating a circular economy.

In line with the EU's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation international cooperation with international partners is encouraged. Proposals should include other joint activities including additional joint call(s) without EU co-funding. The proposal should demonstrate that these co-funded other activities exclude any overlaps with related ongoing actions co-funded by the EC. Cooperation and coordination with other ERA-NETs and/or JPIs to increase synergies on cross-cutting issues, where appropriate, is encouraged.

Participation of legal entities from international partner countries and/or regions is encouraged in the joint call as well as in other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding. Participants from countries which are not automatically eligible for funding[[]] may nonetheless request a Union contribution (on the basis of the ERA-NET unit cost) for the co-ordination costs of additional activities.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Growing water demands, mismanagement of water use and climate change are increasing the stress on water supply, water bodies, and associated ecosystems and existing infrastructures, and emphasise the need to close the water cycle gap, by reconciling water supply and demand in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Research needs to be deployed in a number of scientific fields to improve the knowledge base on water resources availability and use and must be systematically combined with a socio-economic approach investigating the questions of adaptation strategies, participation, behaviour and commitment of stakeholders. This challenge is of European interest and will require a concerted action. To be more effective and increase the added value of related investments, the efforts and strategic research agendas of the many funding networks and organisations existing in Europe need to be integrated to establish transnational and trans-disciplinary research and innovation actions.

Projects are expected to lead to:

  • improved use of scarce human and financial resources in the area of water research and innovation;
  • reduced fragmentation of water research and innovation efforts across Europe;
  • improved synergy, coordination and coherence between national and EU funding in the relevant research fields through transnational collaboration;
  • improved implementation of research and innovation programmes in these fields through exchange of good practices;
  • strengthened international leadership of European research in this area making the Water JPI, in collaboration with the European Commission, a privileged and attractive partner for global cooperation in research and innovation, in the context of the Belmont Forum and other international alliances;
  • contribution to the implementation of the objectives of the JPI on Water;
  • contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 6 'Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all' and SDG 13 'Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts', as well as the conclusions of the COP21 Paris Agreement[[The Paris Agreement was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris on 12 December 2015.]].