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Finding innovative solutions for water scarcity in Southern Europe

Finding innovative solutions for water scarcity in Southern Europe

EIT Food, EIT Climate, EIT Manufacturing, EIT Raw Materials 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.

There is no denying that more innovation is needed to reduce and optimize water use - a challenge that covers mutiple facets-, produce food in a more sustainable way, while avoiding an increase in food prices. Therefore, this programme will carry 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 Europe.

Why is water scarcity important?

Food systems sustainability is constantly threaten by water scarcity, particularly in Southern European countries -Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Turkey, where water shortages are expected to increase in the near future. According to FAO, the food production consumes 70% of the world’s fresh water resources; not only in growing crops and raising animals, but also in processed food, where water is a major ingredient. 

Besides, a lot of water is wasted. New technologies, improved irrigation management, drought-resistant crops and water recycling in factories could save up to 40% in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Flooding and water scarcity in Europe will increase in the coming decades if the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change are not met. The European Commission, together with the KICs, is working with EU countries to overcome these challenges and encourage countries, companies and households to implement more water-efficient measures.

Stages

  • Expert Body: a group of 16 experts from different backgrounds will work together to identify the 6 key challenges around water scarcity, exploit synergies amongs regions with modest to modate rates in innovation and create an active network of over 50 stakeholders to discuss about water challenges.
  • Challenge Labs: thee challenge lab will be held in Southern Europe -Italy, Greece and Spain-, gathering each at least ten entrepreneurs that will work together to propose solutions to one of the 6 key issues proposed by the experts.
  • The Water Academy: three capacity-building trainings will be organised in the south of Europe - Italy, Greece and Spain - with the aim of stimulating a learning enviroment based on the latest findings, solutions and alternatives related to water scarcity. This academy will build a strong network of experts and strengthen the innovation ecosystem.
  • Water scarcity outreach: we will engage with people so that they can become agents of change and walk toward a water-saving economy.

Programme

  • Launch of the call for experts: Mid-March
  • Launch of the call for facilitators: Mid-March
  • Launch of the call for startups: May
  • Selection of startups and entrepreneurs: June
  • Challenge Labs: June-July
  • Water Academy: September

Impact

Long-term objective: promoting the transition of ideas into businesses by supporting the development of innovative solutions for water scarcity.

  • Strenthening cross-networks to work together in innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Boosting innovation in regions with modest to moderate rates in innovation, notably in Italy, Greece and Spain; creating startups and contributing to job creation.
  • Promoting synergies with Smart Specialisation Strategies and successful policy initiatives as a way of fostering financial sustainability.

Project lead

Elvira Domingo
Institution

EIT Food, CLC South

Contact details

elvira.domingo@eitfood.eu

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