EIT Communities will join forces to tackle one of the biggest challenges for Southern Europe through innovation

Flooding and water scarcity in Europe will increase in the coming decades, in particular, if the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change are not met. Several studies, including the Joint Research Centre (JRC) study released in 2018, have looked at the impact of the changing climate, land use and water usage on Europe’s water resources. It is known by science and mostly by facts that Southern European countries – particularly Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey – are projected to face increased water shortages. Significant reductions in groundwater recharge are estimated for Spain, Portugal and Greece, with negative impacts on the environment and water availability for irrigation. Increasing droughts will lead to water scarcity and reduced hydropower resources in the Mediterranean region. This is likely to have knock-on effects on agriculture, energy, transport and food security.

Within a growing global trend of water consumption, European society and economy in different territories are asked to tackle the trends in boosting resilient infrastructures, circular economy and enabling multi-stakeholders governance, as these will determine the competitiveness of European water industry.

Therefore, water plays a central role in how societies mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. A holistic approach considering water, the biosphere, and the anthroposphere is required to provide sustainable agricultural and economic systems that will allow us to decelerate climate change, protect us from extremes events and adapt to the unavoidable at the same time.

Considering the extent of this challenge, four Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) – EIT RawMaterials, EIT Food, EIT Climate-KIC and EIT Manufacturing, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Regional Innovation Scheme – have joined forces and approaches to work in an holistic way and bring expertise to enhance knowledge and overcome current barriers to tackle one of the biggest challenges for Southern Europe through innovation.

Main activities along 2020 will be establishing a group of experts on water scarcity in Southern Europe, delivering focused Entrepreneur Challenge Labs for start-ups to facilitate in this way the transition from idea to business, organising the EIT Water Academy for water scarcity challenge education, including the EIT workshops with public bodies and other stakeholders across different regions and communication activities to reach out to citizens and interested stakeholders, engaging in events and media to raise awareness about water scarcity for citizens.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be looking for experts including not only researchers but also outstanding profiles from policymakers, NGOs, civil associations, industry players who can give a valuable contribution to the multi-stakeholders perspective that we need to tackle such societal challenge.

Call for experts will be launched soon – stay tuned!

EIT Regional Innovation Scheme strengthening the innovation ecosystem in parts of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe

Although we share one continent, European countries are divided because of disparities in innovation performance. This has resulted in the classification of European countries in two main groups—innovation leaders and strong innovators versus moderate and modest innovators. One reason for lower innovation performance is weak linkages among the key players—businesses and research institutions and academia, as well as between the private and public sectors, including a systematic approach towards innovation. As a response to this challenge, the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) was introduced. The EIT RIS is designed for the EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries in Europe who are modest and moderate innovators, and where Innovation Communities have few or no partners. Strategically, the Scheme is an additional offer to these countries to facilitate their engagement with the EIT Innovation Communities. The Scheme’s aim is to facilitate the access to services and programmes offered by the EIT Innovation Communities.

Each Innovation Community cooperates with local innovators – individuals such as students, researchers, entrepreneurs, and organisations such as SMEs, universities, research labs, regions, NGOs and cities. The EIT Innovation Communities involve the local players in education, business creation and acceleration activities, as well as innovation-driven research.