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Joint programming for European water research

France and 18 other European countries have grouped their efforts to prepare a joint, multi-disciplinary research programme on water. The objective is to pool and coordinate the research launched by the countries in order to ensure the supply of high-quality water in sufficient quantities. A preliminary strategic research programme was adopted on 30 May 2013.

Managed by public entities in charge of research-support programmes, the Water joint programming initiative (Water JPI) is a project among the partners to meet the economic, ecological, technological and social challenges raised by water issues. Four observations resulted in the Water JPI, i.e. 1) major efforts are still required to achieve good water status by 2015, as per WFD objectives, 2) Europe must encourage innovation if it is to remain competitive, 3) the fragmentation of European research and innovation efforts prevents Europe from achieving its full RDI (research, development and innovation) potential, 4) the Member States cannot individually take on the major social challenges facing Europe.

The 19 participating countries joined forces to set up a joint programme for research undertaken via the national research programmes. Each country has committed to investing two-thirds of its national funding for water RDI in the joint research programme by 2020. The Water JPI will be coordinated by Spain and the Netherlands. France is represented by the National alliance for environmental research. Onema has put considerable effort into the initiative given that it represents a great opportunity to improve the efficiency of public water-research investments in major innovation projects.

Five priority topics suited to joint programming have been identified, namely 1) maintaining balanced and sustainable ecosystem management, 2) providing consumers with quality water, 3) encouraging a competitive water sector, 4) establishing a bioeconomy that respects water and 5) determining how to close the human water cycle. The needs in terms of research, development and innovation have been defined for each topic. A call for pilot projects will be launched before the end of 2013.

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