The European Union concentrates a large part of its research and innovation activities in the Framework Program mostly known as Horizon 2020 (H2020), the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020).
This program is seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs. It also has the political backing of European leaders and members of the European Parliament, who agree that research is an investment for our future.
Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
Societal challenges are one of the political priorities of Horizon 2020 and, therefore, focus their efforts on stimulating research and innovation to achieve the political objectives of the European Union. The social challenges or specific objectives to achieve are:
- Health, demographic change and wellbeing.
- Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy.
- Secure, clean and efficient energy.
- Smart, green and integrated transport.
- Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials.
- Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies.
- Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.
Bioazul has been working for a few months on a proposal within Societal Challenge 5: Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials. This Challenge funds research and innovation with the following specific objectives:
- To achieve a resource – and water – efficient and climate change resilient economy and society,
- The protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, and
- A sustainable supply and use of raw materials, in order to meet the needs of a growing global population within the sustainable limits of the planet’s natural resources and eco-systems.
The Societal Challenge 5 Work Programme for 2018-2020 focuses on moving to a greener, more resource efficient and climate-resilient economy in sync with the natural environment, demonstrating a strong commitment to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets of the COP21 Paris Agreement. The work program has two calls:
- Call – Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future: climate action in support of the Paris Agreement.
- Call – Greening the economy in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The proposal of Bioazul is framed in the second call focused on water, specifically, in the specific challenge CE-SC5-04-2019: Building a water-smart economy and society. This challenge appears because of the growing demand for water and the over-exploitation of natural sources. Therefore, the actions carried out should demonstrate the feasibility of a ‘water smart’ economy and society in water, so that water resources, are managed to avoid water scarcity and pollution, increase resilience to climate change, appropriately manage water-related risks, and ensure that all valuable substances that could be obtained from waste water treatment processes, or are embedded in used water streams, are recovered.
These actions should address only one of the following sub-topics:
- Symbiosis between industry and water utilities
- Large scale applications with multiple water users at various relevant scales.
In the case of Bioazul’s proposal, it focuses on the second sub-theme where innovative solutions that have not been tested on a real scale are demonstrated. The project puts into practice the technologies developed in previous projects and deepens in the concept of circular economy and in upgrading the substances that are obtained from wastewater treatment. The innovative actions address multiple water users (urban, industrial, rural and agricultural) and various relevant scales (regional/national/international) for:
- Stimulating efficient and multiple use, recycling and reuse of water.
- Recovery of energy and materials (such as nutrients, minerals, chemicals and metals) from water.
- Managing water demand and efficient allocation.
- Exploiting alternative water sources.
- Prevention of water pollution and degradation of the aquatic environment and soil.
- Cost-effective and smart management of the water system and infrastructure.