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Tackling Water Challenges in the International Context

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IC4WATER (Tackling Water Challenges in the International Context)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30

The Joint Programming Initiative ‘Water Challenges for a Changing World, so called the Water JPI, is an intergovernmental initiative which strives to achieve sustainable water systems for a sustainable economy in Europe and abroad.
To meet these global challenges we need to carry out integrated and multidisciplinary projects aiming at developing solutions. The IC4WATER project’s objectives include supporting Research and Innovation funding agencies in stepping up international cooperation, for reaching critical mass of new research and technological excellence, integration and sharing of knowledge, infrastructures, data, training and capacity building. In addition, communication and networking with stakeholders (water economic sector and policy makers) and the scientific community will be strengthened.
These challenges are addressed within IC4WATER through sharing of good practices, mapping of the existing research cooperation models, closer coordination of existing activities and establishment of new relationships to facilitate multidisciplinary networking across the Water challenges at a wider scale, both with respect to research and geographical areas.
In order to become more than a ‘network of networks’ and a dialogue platform for research programmes, IC4WATER will be focusing on key topics of the Water JPI Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. As an initial focus, the Water JPI Governing Board, which endorsed the IC4WATER project concept in November 2015, has agreed upon a plan to pilot new principles of international transnational cooperation through concrete joint programming focusing on the theme of UN Sustainable Development Goals related to water challenges. A shortlist of key UN SDGs RDI areas have served as recommendations for joint activities with funding RDI governmental institutions or for RDI support for market development (in close cooperation with the economic sector represented by the WssTP), development of the Water JPI knowledge hub, joint transnational call with partners willing to commit additional national / regional funds for RDI projects.
The Water JPI is already strongly involved in international cooperation related to research and innovation, mainly through the participation of African, and North American countries in the Water JPI calls. To make progress in a systematic and strategic way, the first actions focused on the criteria for selecting future partners in development of the Water JPI international collaboration strategy. 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. The strategic criteria should be customised according to the strategy and purpose of the collaboration while being flexible enough to adapt to necessary changes and lessons learnt during the Joint actions and their evaluation.
IC4WATER has launched the revision of the International cooperation mapping, pursued contacts with some key partners leading to new cooperation actions with Brazil and clarifications with other (e.g. PRIMA or China – Europe Water Platform), and developed a survey on international cooperation action of other European Initiatives (other JPIs, GPC, EC, …).
To increase the scale and ambition of water RDI activities beyond the level that would otherwise be sustainable, a more efficient RDI coordination at European and International levels is assessed by developing the cooperation models with the economic sector, already operating at Global level. Experts from different fields and sectors were invited for developing an action plan for water RDI take-up beyond Europe and creating a common vision on the blueprint for Water JPI valorisation activities. Drivers and barriers for knowledge development were identified and will be further assessed in the upcoming months.
On the knowledge sharing side, the setting up of the international cooperation knowledge hub (KH) is ongoing. Its design and implementation have been depending on the progress of the first JPI KH. The activities were slightly postponed to consider recommendations and lessons learnt. The terms of reference of the KH are under finalisation. Partners identified the possible topics for this new KH which will be the basis for the discussion with international partners scheduled in December 2018 in Lisbon.
In a major milestone, a workshop was organised in March 2017 with International stakeholders for identifying possible gaps in the Water JPI SRIA (currently under revision) and possible priority topics for a Joint Transnational Call to support Water resources management Policies, in particular the UN SDGs’ implementation. Key SRIA gaps in relation to the UN SDGs were identified and a Joint Transnational Call on two priorities was launched in October 2017 (selection of the projects scheduled for September 2018, and kick-off meeting beginning of 2019).
The last WP relates to Global Impact Assessment, with the view to develop a common framework and guidelines for impact assessment of the Water JPI. Consultation with the other JPIs through the JPIs Task Force on indicators was carried out and preliminary consultations have been made with the Water JPI governance structures.
IC4WATER is contributing to the implementation of the Water JPI as defined by its Governing Board. The expected results and their impact are covering several levels:
• Strategy level:
o By developing a real strategy on international cooperation through joint activities, based on scenarios shared with the Water JPI members and key players and by developing the cooperation models with the most relevant partners (peers, economic sector, researchers) for performing joint activities;
o By making the Water JPI, in cooperation with the European Commission (EC), a privileged and attractive partner for global cooperation in research and innovation, notably in the context of the International Agenda set by the UN for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
• Implementation:
o By Enhancing the Water JPI networking for further activities expansion;
o By long-term RDI cooperation with European key players (JPIs, Articles 185, JRC and EURAQUA) and international institutions (Belmont forum, UNESCO, GWRC, beyond Europe countries – H2020 associated and/or third countries) for concrete actions; and
o By developing a more efficient RDI coordination at the European and International levels
• Connection with the economic sector: the common action plan should allow better targeting of their needs and increased up-take of RDI results from these communities of stakeholders and end-users.

- Policy setting: Some of the IC4WATER activities (Joint Transnational call, new knowledge hub, common action plan with the economic sectors) are directly supporting the Water resources management Policies, in particular the post-2015 sustainable development agenda with the UN SDGs’ implementation.
- Dissemination of Water JPI activities and related outputs is also crucial. Updates of the JPI communication, dissemination and exploitation activities and tools (JPI website, newsletter, social media, participation and organisation of RDI events) are contributing to the effective up-take of results, maximising impacts of the related activities and of the JPI as a whole.