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Tackling Water Challenges in the International Context

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - IC4WATER (Tackling Water Challenges in the International Context)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

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 (IC) related to research and innovation. 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 IC 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. A dialogue on developing IC is maintained with other JPIs, Policy-Makers and European public Research and Development initiatives. IC4Water also pursued contacts with some key partners leading to new cooperation actions and clarifications with others. Workshops targeting different audiences (European Initiatives, governmental institutions, researchers, economic sectors, and international funding partners) were organised to collect views and exchange for developing a structured strategy and cooperation models for international RDI cooperation in the water challenges areas. Besides, workshops on the main drivers and barriers for valorisation of European R&I on water challenges revealed a number of issues that have to be taken into account when promoting valorisation outside Europe through projects and platforms. T
Despite of the Covid-19 pandemic the IC4Water partners have held, among others, 4 workshops held remotely during this reporting period :
o “Water JPI Workshop on International Cooperation Towards a Strategy on International Cooperation” (May 2020)
o “Webinar on Private Sector Finance for Water Research” (September 2020)
o “Workshop on International Cooperation in the Danube Region” (November 2020)
o “Workshop on Exploring opportunities for the scaling-up of the JPI activities for water challenges in Europe and beyond” (January 2021)
The outcomes will feed into the international cooperation strategy of the Water JPI that will also contribute to the international cooperation of Water4All.
In a workshop organised with International stakeholders, possible priority topics for a Joint Transnational Call to support Water resources management Policies, in particular the UN SDGs’ implementation were identified. The Joint Transnational Call (JTC) on Water resource management in support of the UN SDGs was launched with the contribution of some partners (Water JPI members and international cooperation partners).
IC4WATER also launched of a Knowledge Hub dedicated to the theme “New Water Under Scarcity: New Sources, Treatment, Recycling, Reuse and Water-Health-Energy Nexus”. T
IC4Water aims to develop a common framework and guidelines for impact assessment (IA) 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. Good progress has been made in the establishment of a Global IA of both the CSA, ERA-Nets and Water JPI activities. However, the working conditions for the leading partner due to the sanitary situation have caused some setbacks in the external evaluation of projects.
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.