Water4All Partnership

With the recent launch of the next EU Framework Programme Horizon Europe, water actors across Europe become more and more interested in the latest developments of the Water4All Partnership. During the month of January, the Water4All Drafting Group has been invited to join a couple of events to make a presentation on the initiative and the strategic research and innovation agenda currently under development.

The first one of these events took place on the 15th January 2021 and it was organised by the Flemish Region of Belgium. The workshop counted the participation of around 50 representatives from Flemish universities, the Flemish Government, innovation clusters and water administrations, amongst others.

The Water4All Partnership was represented by Olivier Bouc – as coordinator of the initiative at its preparatory stage -, and Antonio Loporto and Esther Díez as current leaders in the development of Water4All’s strategic research and innovation agenda.

Panagiotis Balabanis (European Commission, DG RTD) made a short presentation on Horizon Europe with a special focus on the contents of cluster 6 of the programme. Olivier Bouc provided general information on the partnership (objectives, action pillars, governance). Detailed information on the contents of the strategic agenda were given during the second part of the workshop.

All these presentations were followed by a dynamic discussion on the issues listed below:

  • Governance of the initiative – participation of the United Kingdom and the private sector in Water4All. As explained, the United Kingdom is eligible to funding as an associated country to Horizon Europe. As regards the private sector, the participation is highly encouraged although there are no clear indications yet as to participation rules. Specific actions are envisaged for start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
  • Identification of priorities. The agenda lays out specific areas for which RDI are recommended but it does not set yet any priorities. Prioritisation will be carried out at the implementation
  • Practical issues concerning the implementation of activities, in particular :
    • Budget put aside for living labs and demonstration activities.
    • Need for simpler rules for participation. Participants highlighted difficulties for participation in initiatives like the Water JPI due to the existence of different participation rules across countries.
    • Recommendation to have broad themes rather than
  • Contents of the SRIA. A number of proposals were put forward by participants in order to improve the current strategic agenda, such as :
    • More focus on agroecosystems (in synergy with the future Partnership on Agroecology)
    • Stronger references to social sciences – in particular in Themes II (Biodiversity and Ecosystems) and III (Sustainable Water Management)
    • Reinforcement of the links between inland waters and marine waters.

The second event was held on the 18th January. Organised by the Polish Centre for Research and Development (NCBR), it gathered 15 participants. During the first part of the meeting, Olivier Bouc and Esther Díez made a presentation on Water4All and its initial strategic and innovation agenda. Participants queried about Water4All’s budgetary issues and key performance indicators.

No questions were made about the contents of the agenda, which were discussed during the second part of the meeting. Results of these discussions will be the object of a national position paper that will be sent for consideration to the Water4All Drafting Group.

The organisation of regional/ national workshops provides a wonderful opportunity for the Water4All Drafting Group to present the initiative, to communicate on future activities and to spark up participation from different types of actors (national and regional agencies, academic actors, private companies, water utilities, etc.).

For further information on Water4All, please contact Olivier Bouc at