Leeuwarden declaration calls for reinforced action for water innovation in Europe
The 3rd conference of the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water), was held in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, on 10th February 2016. In concluding the conference the Leeuwarden declaration was launched that underlines the key issues if Europe is to accelerate the development and uptake of innovation in the water sector.The conference was attended by more than 500 scientists, innovators, policy-makers, economists, engineers, resource managers and investors from over 50 countries.
The declaration makes a series of recommendations in the eight main topics of the 3rd EIP Water conference.
On the circular economy it calls for the re-use and recycling of water, in a circular economy, has great potential for addressing current and future challenges of water scarcity. It must be approached at the very beginning of the value chain starting from design and production of products and processes that use water, followed by water sustainability and the systematic implementation of the principle of robust water systems by addressing the barriers to water re-cycling, re-use and recovery of raw materials and energy in the water cycle.
- With Regions and cities playing a vital role in water innovation it recommends that water innovation be given a high priority when tackling challenges, such as demographic and land use changes, ageing infrastructures and asset management and extreme weather events. Strategic, smart and timely investments in innovative and adaptive nature-based solutions and green infrastructure are always more beneficiary and sustainable than investments in post disaster recovery.
- Sustainable Development Goals and water innovation - it calls for an EU Action Plan to be elaborated in 2016 to engage all levels of government in the achievement of “SDG 6 to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and targets by 2030.
- Regulation and water innovation – with ambitious regulation being a strong driver for water innovation (e.g. Water Framework Directive, Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, Floods Directive, and Nitrates Directive) recent experience has shown a lack of synergy in key areas like energy, floods, agriculture, raw materials with water policy. The declaration calls on Member States and the European Commission to review and further harmonise water-relevant regulatory domains and use smart regulation and reporting where such action can deliver significant added value in terms of environmental, economic and societal benefits.
- Finance for water innovation – the declaration urges all stakeholders in the water sector, including their representatives at the EU level, to keep innovation – and the necessity for innovation - in the European water sector high on the agenda to ensure adequate, demand-side based access to financial resources, such as from Cohesion Policy funds, EFSI, Horizon 2020 and other public and private sources. Innovation uptake will require proper resources to be available for the water management bodies, supported by adequate cost recovery and water pricing.
- Public procurement and water innovation - Public procurement in water innovation occurs where public authorities or agencies buy goods and services as a launching customer, or where the goods or services developed during the R&D phase are to be procured. It calls on the European Commission and EAFIP are asked to pay special attention to public procurement in the water and water-dependent sectors and to public procurers in the water sector to make more use of the tools available to increase “public procurement for innovation”.
- Partnerships and water innovation – important success factors include clear commitments and political will, effective communication, stakeholder engagement and continuous partnership development during preparation and implementation, and adequate visibility and sharing of risks and benefits. The declaration call on stakeholders in water innovation to develop and disclose best-practices in partnership approaches. It calls on all stakeholders to apply and benefit from the lessons of best practices of partnerships that have effectively promoted water innovation activities in response to EU policy objectives.
- Showcases and demonstration sites and water innovation - The EIP Water online marketplace and outreach activities, plays a vital role for increasing the visibility of innovative sites such as Watercampus Leeuwarden.