Collaboration – Solutions – Impact: EJWP Projects with Partner Organizations

Our EJWP teams cooperate closely with their European companies and institutions on projects addressing current sector challenges.  Our EJWP partner organizations are supported in setting up these group projects to generate innovative approaches to current sector challenges that can be applied in operations, while creating skill-building opportunities for their staff within diverse environments.

We are proud to feature snapshots from three projects carried out since the beginning of EJWP, in close cooperation among our EJWP team members and their supporting organizations.

Project Snapshot I: “How Social Media Can Perform as an Indicator for Water Utility Performance,” with EJWP groups 3 & 4 working with AquaFed, the International Federation of Private Water Operators, in France. (2022)

The challenge: Insufficient data on the performance of utilities, including the drinking water supply, wastewater and stormwater management chain: The goal of this project was to bridge the missing data on activities and the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in improving water utility performance through web-based information and social media. EJWP participants generated a methodology for collecting, analyzing, and mapping the data and potential for new sources.

Participants developed and employed a survey to seek their information. The questionnaire was completed by 114 respondents from 12 countries. The majority of responses came from Croatia (44%), Greece (26%), Switzerland and Belgium (8% each), and the Netherlands (6%), with other responses from countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, India, and Colombia.

Results: The project determined that people are willing to share information about sanitation, water quality and pricing, aquatic biodiversity, flood control, and water pricing via social media. Channels used as a source of customer feedback include Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube. And AI-based technologies such as EventRegistry can provide insightful metadata analysis on water topics that can be useful for the utilities.

“EJWP projects provide great opportunities for networking with other participants and their organizations in different fields, which opens windows for transdisciplinary approaches to water-related challenges, and to creating new partnerships for improved results,” said Mirela Sertić Perić, EJWP participant with the University of Zagreb in Croatia.

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Project Snapshot II “Future Impacts of Climate Change on Inland Bathing Water:” An EJWP Group 2 project with the Delfland Water Authority in the Netherlands. (2021)

The challenge: Impacts of climate change, combined with socio-economic factors, in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe create obstacles to maintaining a good quality bathing (swimming) water in the coming years.

Participants coordinated with their organizations to determine through research and interviews how climate changes will impact water quality and related societal aspects for bathing locations of inland waters. The team examined differences between examples in the Netherlands and other participating countries, and also sought insights on how the EU Directive for bathing water quality is implemented around Europe – with a focus on Germany, Spain, and Serbia.

Results: Points of interest delivered in this project included that cyanobacteria and other pathogens will find better conditions to survive, and floods will cause new peaks of some microorganisms. This indicated a need for further water tests and upgrading the water quality standards. Initiatives should start with pollution prevention and setting mitigation methods to save and stabilize water quality. Raising awareness among the public, and creating better political environments for action were identified as key actions in addressing the future challenges.

“We all focused on an area that was pretty new for us, this is what makes EJWP so interesting – pushing boundaries!” Merel Mostert, EJWP2 participant working at Delfland, on her experience as the project manager.

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Project Snapshot III “Human Capital in the European Water Sector:” An EJWP1 Group 1 Project with Water Europe. (2019)

The challenge: Water is an increasing structural risk for aspects of society over the past decade, as a potential source of disasters for economies, people and environmental ecosystems. As human capital is a key element of investment in future sustainable initiatives, Water Europe worked with EJWP participants to raise awareness on the situation and potential approaches in the water sector at the EU level.

Participants worked through a mapping exercise based on desktop research, and a survey which aimed to identify best practices and challenges of the European water sector for its human capital agenda. Focus was placed on identifying best practices and how human capital is addressed in Europe.

Results: This project resulted in the Water Europe white paper, “Towards a water-related human capital agenda for the Green Deal” which recognized that the EU cannot build a sustainable society and ensure a green growth without considering the full value chain and achieving a Water Smart Society though an inclusive approach at all levels. Investment is needed in 1) diversity to create new ways of thinking 2) social and innovative solutions, and 3) life-long learning for skills to realize the value of water in a changing society.

“I was in a leadership role in the first EJWP project linked to Water Europe. It was motivating to identify our way forward with the various input. At first, I felt a sort of conflict with different ways of thinking toward a workable process. I realized as we progressed the importance of understanding other’s feelings and adapting my communication for the success of project,” said Loïc Charpentier, EJWP participant with Water Europe.

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Follow ups:

This first cooperative project with Water Europe also led to follow-up projects including “Making Waves to Share the Value of Water” with EJWP Groups 1 & 2. Project client & coordinator Gonzalo Delacámara, PhD, leader of the Vision Leadership Team on the Value of Water with Water Europe, said, “Water Europe wanted to identify European leaders working on water issues for a more strategic approach about long term water security and to reach out wider audiences. I see my part with EJWP as an opportunity to draw on young professionals’ outlook towards a revised narrative on the value of water, and to see if it is practical to involve a wider range of values in adapting this narrative for one general purpose. What we’re doing here is relevant because not only is water significant in the policy implications of drought, flood, water quality, biodiversity and more – it’s about a means to an end and how water is connected to wider goals outside of policy objectives.”

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The Human Capital project with Water Europe project also spurred collaboration on “The Future Workplace Towards an Inclusive Water-Smart Society” project with H2O-People, in the Netherlands, parent organization of EJWP.  The challenge of this project was that water sector decision-makers need a roadmap to find effective strategies and programs to delineate future career paths, smooth transitions, and solve the challenge of mismatches.

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