With the world's population surpassing 7 billion in 2011 and expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050, it is estimated that the urban population will have nearly doubled to 6.4 billion by this time (World Economic Forum, Global Risk Report 2014).
Rapid population growth can amplify the number of challenges and opportunities facing a country, including risks surrounding water.
With a predicted increase in population of this magnitude, demand for clean water could be up to 40% higher than the availability in urban areas by 2030 alone, with water pumping accounting for 3% of energy consumption in the residential sector.
Climate change is also an influencing factor with droughts having increased by 20% over the last 30 years, affecting the natural hydrological cycle. Many natural drainage systems in urban areas have been replaced by concrete, increasing surface run off, reducing groundwater supplies and increasing the chances of flooding. Public awareness is poor, as is the efficiency, with a prediction that up to 40% of all clean water is being wasted due to poor efficiency and infrastructure.
As part of European Commission's Europe 2020 vision, the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) and Opportunity Peterborough are partnering with four other European regions to deliver the Water Efficiency in European Urban Areas (WE@EU) FP7-funded project.
These regions include:
The primary objective of the Water Efficiency is European Urban Areas (WE@EU) Project is to create an open European Platform for EU excellence in water efficiency and Urban Water Management. This is split into six different sub-objectives:
Coordinating European research, development and innovation across the water sector, the platform will enable participants to work collaboratively and share learning internationally, focusing on the generation of innovative new solutions through an open European platform for EU excellence. This knowledge-driven partnership will aim to strengthen regional capacities, unlock business investment and create new opportunities through the sharing of best-practice approaches.
By June 2016 the project aims to foster high-level trans-national cooperation and integration between research-driven clusters as well as mutual learning between regional actors; improve links and integration between regional authorities, research organisations and the regional business community; and develop and implement joint action plans at the European level to increase regional economic competitiveness.
As part of the project, the GSI and Opportunity Peterborough will be identifying synergies through the creation of networks, working groups and research hubs, whilst hosting a number of business focused events and meetings. Enhancing business to business relationships not only within the East of England but across the EU and beyond.
We are encouraging all stakeholders with an active interest in the efficient use of urban water, whether they are businesses, academia, local authorities, not for profit organisations or water companies, to get in contact if they would like to be part of this exciting and fully funded initiative.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320007.