Towards a ‘water-smart’ society in Europe

By Carla Gomes

When discussing water scarcity and the dire scenarios for water access in the future, European populations are probably not the first that come to mind. Yet, climate change, a growing population and competing demands between sectors such as agriculture, industry and tourism are putting pressure over water resources across the continent, and will be driving a profound shift in how we manage the ‘blue gold’ over the next few decades. Water scarcity has in fact become a serious threat, in particular for Southern Europe. In addition, over 40% of the water needed to provide products consumed in Europe is used outside EU territory, which puts pressure over global freshwater resources.

In response to an increasingly challenging scenario, improving water use efficiency is crucial. For this reason the European Commission launched in 2017 the H2020 call ‘Building a water-smart economy and society’. This call resulted in the approval of B-WaterSmart: Accelerating Water Smartness in Coastal Europe, a 4-year project coordinated by the German institute IWW Water Centre, in which the ICS-ULisboa has been involved since September 2020, being responsible for the development of the Work Package ‘Society, Governance & Policy’.

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