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Water Scarcity in South
Water Scarcity in South

Water Scarcity in South

EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT Manufacturing, Athena Research Centre and BioAzul joint forces to face the real challenges around water scarcity.

The objective of this programme is to enhance knowledge and overcome current barriers to tackle water scarcity in Southern Europe through innovation, entrepreneurship, education and communication. 

Water is a precondition to life on Earth and essential for a sustainable socioeconomic development, food security and healthy ecosystems. The growing population, the demographic changes, massive urbanisation trends and climate change, among other factors, are increasing pressure over the available water resources.  

This programme carries out a series of activities, from research to innovation and education, to joint efforts and effectively find the appropriate solutions to water shortages in Southern regions, for Europe to lead the way towards a more sustainable future. The long-term objective of the Water Scarcity programme is to ease the transition to a water saving economy across Southern Europe and contribute to reducing Europe’s water consumption and wastage by:

  • Fostering Innovation & Entrepreneurship by supporting scaleups and SMEs offering solutions to tackle specific water-related challenges faced by several stakeholders in their daily operations (i.e. improved irrigation methods and infrastructures; resilient crops and crop management techniques; leakage reduction; usage prediction; pollutants detection and monitoring, etc.). 
  • Creating a strong experts’ community to progress on the key challenges to tackle water scarcity, with a special focus on Water Governance, Financial Schemes and Legal Enforcement and establishing solid partnerships with relevant stakeholders.  
  • Sharing knowledge to build capabilities to business and individuals to ensure the environmental sustainability of any business and of our daily activities (i.e. industrial players, farmers, citizens), fostering the adoption of a water saving culture among final users in Europe.  

All of it will result in: 

Overall, the programme will strengthen local innovations and will contribute to the economic and social progress in modest and moderated innovation countries as sufficient and good-quality water supply is a prerequisite for socioeconomic development.   

In 2020, the programme gathered 16 top-class experts, supported 26 startups, promoted education through several activities in Italy, Greece and Spain.

Download the report see everything achieved last year:


Why is water scarcity important?

Water is the “life-blood” of our economy, industries, societal functions, nature as well as health and wellbeing of our citizens. 75% of our jobs depend on water, while water crises rank among the top 5 global risks in terms of impact. The management and protection of water resources, of fresh and saltwater ecosystems, and of the water we drink and bathe in is therefore one of the cornerstones of environmental protection. 

Water scarcity will bring environmental degradation and competition on water use (agricultural, domestic, and industrial), which will have a high impact in the European economy. 

In terms of water usage, agriculture is by far the sector exerting the highest pressure on freshwater resources overall, being responsible for near 59% of total water use in Europe (2017). Food systems sustainability is constantly threatened by water scarcity, particularly in Southern European regions -Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Malta and Turkey- where water shortages are expected to increase in the near future. 

Moreover, excessive consumption patterns, lack of awareness among citizens and industrial players, discharge of pollutants that compromise groundwater and water bodies’ quality, leakages in the distribution pipes, etc. All of it contributes to increase the risk of suffering water scarcity.  

Finding innovative solutions to reverse water scarcity, changing from water misuse and pollution to reduce, reuse and non-use of water by different industries, will ensure environmental sustainability and competitiveness.  

New technologies, improved irrigation management, drought-resistant crops and water recycling in factories could save up to 40% in the agricultural and industrial sectors. The European Commission, together with the KICs, is working with EU countries to find innovative solutions for Water Scarcity and build capability to individuals and business to promote a better use of this pressure resource.  

The Body of Knowledge

Gathering expertise

A group of 16 top-class experts with different backgrounds will work together to map policies, entities and financing tools available to green-tech companies in Southern Europe. Their work will result not only on a comprehensive mapping of the current situation, but also in recommendations to exploit synergies and identify the existing gaps and opportunities.

Moreover, we are building a community of water experts to openly share knowledge, experiences and opportunity.

The challenges

In a first stage, six main challenges have been identified as the key to tackle water scarcity and contribute to the overall reduction in water consumption and pollution in Southern Europe:  

InnoWise Scale

Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship

The programme will support scaleups and SMEs working on innovative products or services enabling a better water management, optimising water supply and demand, and fostering climate change readiness of the European economy.

The InnoWise Scale activities will be held around 3 case studies on water management in the agricultural, food and beverage and utilities sector, gathering up to 20 scaleups and SMEs and 3 potential end users. Support will be given in the form of mentoring, training, and networking opportunities for the implementation of demos, to accelerate the market uptake of these green solutions in Europe.

Winners of the final competitions - one per case study- will be granted with 12,000 euros, 10,000 euros and a special prize of up to 30,000 euros for testing purposes.

In 2021, a special focus will be given to companies located in regions at a higher risk of suffering water scarcity, especially Cyprus, Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain. 

Call for problem holders & scaleups now open

The Water Academies

Transferring knowledge

The Water Academies are sectorial and technical seminars that will be organised to stimulate a learning environment based on the latest findings, solutions and alternatives related to water scarcity.  The technical seminars aim at promoting the implementation of water-saving technologies and good practices in different sectors.  


Fighting water scarcity requires the involvement of all stakeholders in the society, including industrial players, policy makers and citizens. We will engage with people so that they can become agents of change and walt towards a water-saving economy.  


EIT Climate-KIC EIT Manufacturing EIT Digital Athena Bioazul


The following partners are involved in the project


Project Lead

Carmen Galindo

EIT Food CLC South


Project Manager

Contact details

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