Water is an invaluable natural resource. According to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, 9 per cent of the world’s population are still without sustainable access to safe drinking water. Water plays an integral role both in sustaining life and in protecting ecosystems.
European water resources are threatened by a number of factors. Ecosystems are threatened by an ever-increasing demand for water and by wide-spread pollutants: water resources are being overused and the quality of water is further deteriorating. Climate change will also most likely increase the risk of droughts in some areas and, on the other hand, the risk of floods in other areas. Responding to the grand societal, economic, ecological and technological challenges requires a pan-European, joint multidisciplinary approach.
The Council of the European Union decided to launch a Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) in water research in December 2011. The aim the Water JPI is to have a joint European view of how to achieve sustainable water systems for a sustainable economy both in Europe and worldwide.
The Water JPI involves 20 European countries and the European Commission as members. Four other countries have observer status. Finland has been a member of the Water JPI since the early preparation stages of the initiative in 2009. Finland’s participation is coordinated by the Academy of Finland. The Finnish expert members of the Water JPI come from the Finnish Environment Institute and Natural Resources Institute Finland. In its coordination work, the Academy of Finland is supported by a broad-based national stakeholder group composed of, among others, representatives of Finnish ministries, universities, research institutes and Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. Together, the Water JPI member countries account for nearly 90 per cent of total national investment in water research, development and innovation at European level. The Water JPI will improve the harmonisation of the research agendas of the European water sector through carefully selected actions, such as research projects, infrastructures and international research collaborations.
The Water JPI launched the updated version of its strategic research agenda (SRIA 2.0) in May 2016 in Rome, Italy. In connection with the launch, the initiative also announced the Introduction to SRIA and the report Key Achievements of Water JPI 2011–2016. A video recording from the Water JPI conference is available here.
There are a number of Horizon 2020 projects that contribute to the implementation of the Water JPI strategic research agenda, such as the following:
- WatEUR (Tackling European Water Challenges) Coordination and Support Action (2013–2016)
- IC4Water (International Cooperation for Water) Coordination and Support Action (2016–2021)
- ERA-NET Cofund WaterWorks2014 (2015–2019)
- ERA-NET Cofund WaterWorks2015 (2016–2020).
Senior Science Adviser
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