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Tackling Water Challenges in the International Context

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - IC4WATER (Tackling Water Challenges in the International Context)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2022-06-30

The Joint Programming Initiative ‘Water Challenges for a Changing World, the Water JPI, is an intergovernmental initiative launched in 2011. Its aim is to achieve sustainable water systems for a sustainable economy in Europe and abroad.
To this end, the Water JPI supports integrated and multidisciplinary research and innovation activities. International cooperation has been a priority for the Water JPI since its inception as means for the sharing of knowledge and innovative solutions, the enhancement of critical mass, and the optimisation of financial resources for research and innovation.
The IC4WATER project was designed to support international cooperation activities. Launched in 2017, project’s objectives are:
- Stepping up international cooperation beyond the Water JPI and countries beyond Europe.
- Enabling activities for the implementation of Water JPI’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA).
- Identifying collaboration opportunities with strategic international partners, both from the public and economic sector. Attention has been paid to possible cooperation with existing instruments for water research and innovation with an international dimension e.g. the Belmont Forum, PRIMA.
- Developing a more efficient knowledge transfer through the launch of a dedicated Knowledge Hub (KH).
- Supporting water management policies, in particular the implementation of the 2030 Agenda through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)
IC4WATER’s outcomes set the ground for cooperation between Water JPI’s partners and other organisations beyond the Water JPI’s network in and outside Europe. Such a cooperation will provide important benefits to the water research and innovation community and society at large as innovative approaches, methodologies and solutions will be promoted and shared to achieve sustainable water systems.
The Water JPI is already strongly involved in international cooperation (IC) related to research and innovation. The IC strategy completed during the fourth reporting period allows a more systemic and informed process in the establishment of collaborations with relevant organisations.
As part of the Water JPI’s IC strategy development process, first actions focused on the identification of relevant criteria for the selection of strategic partners. The consultation and dedicated workshop with key European actors concluded that the IC strategy could be better oriented by identifying the niche of the Water JPI (vs. other RDI programmes which have international cooperation provisions) and the needs of the countries wanting to interact with the Water JPI. A dialogue with other JPIs, Policy-Makers and European public Research and Development initiatives has been maintained for the whole duration of the project in order to avoid possible thematic duplications and ensure a better optimization of financial and human resources. IC4Water also pursued contacts with some key partners leading to the reinforcement or launch of new cooperation actions. Besides, workshops on the main drivers and barriers for valorisation of European research and innovation on water challenges revealed a number of issues that have to be taken into account when promoting valorisation outside Europe through projects and platforms.
IC4WATER’s main outcomes include:
- An “International Cooperation Strategy” for developing the Water JPI network at the international in a systemic way by addressing key questions such as “which countries the Water JPI should collaborate with”, “when that collaboration should take place”, “how it should happen” (collaboration modes), and “on which topics”.
The document was completed with reports identifying the barriers for collaboration and possible cooperation models, summarising the List of Memoranda of Understanding or programs of cooperation with third countries, and recommendations for supporting Water JPI’s IC and guiding IC activities within Water4All.
- Recommendations on Public – Private Partnerships for research development and implementation, with key economic sector representatives, such as Water Europe, to increase the development of research and innovation programmes and the take-up of research on water challenges.
- A new KH related to international water challenges on “New Water Under Scarcity: New Sources, Treatment, Recycling, Reuse and Water-Health-Energy Nexus”. It aimed at establishing a critical mass of research and technological excellence, through integration and sharing of knowledge, infrastructures, data and modelling tools, training and capacity building, in addition to improving communication and networking with different stakeholders’ communities.
- A Global Impact Assessment evaluating the performance of the Water JPI and the impact created during the ten years of its existence, and in addition, to explore the future perspectives.
- A joint action on UN-SDGs for implementation of the Water JPI’s SRIA.
Permanent communication on IC4WATER has been done through the production of articles within the Water JPI’s newsletter. The production of policy briefs has allowed the dissemination of key findings to targeted audiences as regards the networking and communication with the economic sector and research priorities in the area of water scarcity. At the time of writing this report, partners are working on the update of website pages to highlight key outcomes and impact of the project. Finally, and in parallel with the final review of funded projects, partners will conduct a number of interviews with IC4WATER projects coordinators to develop a better understanding of possible valorisation activities of results.
International cooperation has been a major goal for the Water JPI since its very early stages. It is through international cooperation that the Water JPI has increased its critical mass of the programme and its visibility beyond Europe. The work carried out within the IC4WATER Project has been key in structuring international cooperation activities over the last 5 to 6 years. The exploratory workshop held in 2017 teased out key priorities and research and innovation needs related to the SDGs to be addressed by the IC4WATER call. Actions have also contributed to the development of Water JPI’s strategic agenda on international cooperation. The Water JPI’s IC strategic document sets out, amongst other issues, strategic objectives at the international level, priority contacts, and cooperation models – including barriers for cooperation. Actions have led to the integration of new partners in the Water JPI’s network (South Africa in 2017, and more recently, Slovenia and Malta). On the basis of the IC strategy, the Water JPI has developed its 2022-2023 action plan. Amongst other actions, the 2022-2023 plan advocates for the valorisation of projects results in order to (i) enhance the visibility of outcomes; (ii) enable the wide dissemination; (iii) contribute to capacity building at the international level; (iv) pave the way for the exploitation of results by end-users e.g. policy makers, water utilities, private sector.

In addition to structuring Water JPI’s activities, IC4WATER’s activities will also guide international cooperation activities within the frame of the Water4All Partnership. With this purpose, a permanent dialogue has been kept between the IC4WATER’s coordination team and Pillar E’s leader from the Water4All Partnership.

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