BlueSCities will promote European regulatory innovation and solutions to other strategic partners and countries. In the light of the ever increasing importance of water resources for the economic well-being of our cities and the pivotal role of European water know-how, it is vital for Europe to be actively involved establishing close links to Cities in emerging economic areas. This will give Europe an opportunity to influence the design of future city infrastructures that will affect the lives of every person in the world. It will also give European companies an excellent framework within which they may offer products and services. BlueSCities is due to have a profound and lasting impact on overcoming the barriers to a more widespread implementation of the objectives of both the EIP on Smart Cities and the EIP Water. The project is perfectly aligned to effectively support the Europe 2020 Flagship initiative on Innovation Union, to contribute to Smart Cities and Communities as well as the Flagship initiative on Resource Efficiency Europe and to effectively contribute to the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water. BlueSCities will have a strong impact on technological, academic, economic, environmental and above all social dimensions. BlueSCities will ensure increased market opportunities for the water related industry, specifically SMEs, which will in turn promote innovation, growth and job creation in cities.
BlueSCities contributes to the Commission’s initiative on “Smart Cities and Communities”
Cities are becoming more and more of a focal point for our economies and societies at large, particularly because of on- going urbanization, and the trend towards increasingly knowledge-intensive economies as well as their growing share of resource consumption and emissions (Figures 1and 2). To meet public policy objectives under these circumstances, cities need to change and develop, but in times of tight budgets this change needs to be achieved in a smart way: our cities need to become 'smart cities'. The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities & Communities seeks to significantly accelerate the industrial-scale roll-out of smart city solutions integrating technologies from Energy, Transport and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The overriding goal has hence been formulated as follows: “This partnership strives at a triple bottom line gain for Europe: a significant improvement of citizens' quality of life, an increased competitiveness of Europe's industry and innovative SMEs together with a strong contribution to sustainability and the EU’s 20/20/20 energy and climate targets. This will be achieved through the wide-reaching roll out of integrated, scalable, sustainable Smart City solutions – specifically in areas where energy production, distribution and use; mobility and transport; and information and communication technologies are intimately linked.” BlueSCities contributes to the implementation of a broader, and more integrative approach to 'smartening up' Europe's cities by linking Energy, Transport and ICT with Water, Wastewater, Solid waste, Blue and green space and last but not least people.
The nucleus of our proposal is guidance on good governance in the areas of water and waste within an integrated Smart or Intelligent City approach. As such the basis of our work lies in a statement made by Commissioner Hahn: “Technology is important to implement an intelligent city concept, to create new business opportunities, to attract investments and to generate employment. But technology alone would not bring about any wonders. Good governance and the active involvement of citizens in the development of new organization models for a new generation of services and a greener and healthier lifestyle are also important.” In addition to innovative solutions, the Strategic Implementation Plan and the BlueSCities proposal will create added value for Europe by helping to align existing city initiatives and projects, helping to create economies of scale and more effective knowledge sharing. BlueSCities will ultimately establish strategic partnerships between industry, innovative SMEs, European cities and, above all, European Agencies in order to guarantee the long term fulfilment of the European Urban Agenda 2050 which will include the initiation and implementation of policies at all administrative levels including cities.
BlueSCities contributes to the aims of the EU EIP on Water
The EIP on water was set up to speed up the development of water innovation, contribute to sustainable growth and employment and stimulate the uptake of water innovations by the market and society. The outcomes of BlueSCities are perfectly aligned with the aims of the EIP on water in that the implementation of smart governance in cities will have a profound impact on the water technology and waste market while the non-technological innovations will impact positively on society and the environment with regards to sustainable solutions for water and waste. The EIP on water has listed eight priorities which centre on challenges and opportunities in the water sector, and on innovation driven actions that will deliver the highest impact. Five thematic priorities have been selected: (1) Water reuse and recycling, (2) Water and wastewater treatment, including recovery of resources, (3) Water-energy nexus, (4) Flood and drought risk management, (5) Ecosystem services. In addition, selected cross cutting priorities are (6) Water governance, (7) Decision support systems and monitoring and (8) Financing for innovation. The current City Blueprint Action under the EIP Water and, in particular our BlueSCities approach, links the priorities on water to the EIP on Smart Cities in the areas of water, waste water, energy and solid waste (Figure 1).
BlueSCities addresses the implementation of the Europe 2020 Flagship initiative on Innovation Union
The implementation of the innovation union calls on a number of actions to be taken to make the European Union more innovative and therefore competitive while tackling a number of societal challenges. BlueSCities will specifically impact on the implementation of smart governance through the main aims of the project which are a) to provide guidance to implement a number of technical and non-technical innovations, based on previous research, that will overcome the barriers to sustainable approaches for water, waste water and solid waste, which currently shows fragmentation across Europe and b) to develop a number of practical methods in order to achieve these goals.
Further impacts of the Blueprint for Smart Cities project
- An increase of European understanding and awareness at local/regional and national level of best-practices in Urban Water Cycle Services and Waste management procedures.
- The creation of a learning alliance and community of best-practices thus shortening the innovation value change and market uptake of innovative water and waste management and treatment technologies.
- Assistance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working on water and waste related eco- industries to enter new markets in other local communities, for instance on initiatives to implement the circular economy concept. In a recent report of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF, 2014) an economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition towards the circular economy has been described with impressive cost savings for Europe: “In the quest for a substantial improvement in resource performance across the economy, businesses have started to explore ways to reuse products or their components and restore more of their precious material, energy and labour inputs. The time is right, many argue, to take this concept of a ‘circular economy’ one step further, to analyse its promise for businesses and economies, and to prepare the ground for its adoption.
- Employment and economic gain. The economic gain from materials savings alone is estimated at over a trillion US dollars a year. A shift to innovative reusing, remanufacturing and recycling products could lead to significant job creation. 1000,000 jobs have been created by the recycling industry in the EU alone (EMF, 2014).