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Research and innovation
News article21 March 2023Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

EU R&I contribution to the UN 2023 Water Conference

The first UN Water Conference since 1977 takes place on 22-24 March, in New York.

It will be a crucial step for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of SDG-6 Water and Sanitation.

Water security is one of the greatest water challenges in Europe and globally, driven by climate change and other anthropogenic pressures.

In this context, the EU is committed to playing an active role and will promote a vision that in 2050, global society will be water resilient, offering water security for all.

EU research and innovation, through its funding programmes and its past and ongoing EU-funded research projects, is key to finding effective solutions for clean water and sanitation. In this context specific R&I commitments have been listed for the Water Action Agenda.

EU research and innovation contribution to water research

Horizon Europe Cluster 6

The EU supports water related research including international R&I cooperation. It already funded an overall budget of €109,5 million under the Horizon Europe Cluster 6 first work programme 2021-2022 in projects related to water that aims at:

  • consolidating available knowledge on freshwater ecosystem restoration;
  • promoting the market uptake of successful EC funded circular economy water related projects; promote decentralised approaches for water and wastewater management;
  • preventing and managing urban diffuse pollution;
  • preventing groundwater contamination in the context of climate change;
  • securing drinking water quality with improved monitoring and treatment;
  • developing an integrated and harmonised approach to monitor water quality in urban areas; improve water availability monitoring;
  • developing climate sensitive water allocation systems and economic instruments;
  • designing and implementing integrated multi-level water governance approaches;
  • improving the sustainability of various alternative water supply resources in the context of climate change and water scarcity adaptation

Moreover, always under the first work programme 2021-2022, addition €20 million were allocated to fund the first activities of the European co-funded partnership Water Security for the Planet - Water4All.

In addition, in the Horizon Europe Cluster 6 work programme for 2023-2024, €133 million have been committed for water related topics.

Horizon Europe - Missions

The EU commits to protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity as well as to prevent and eliminate pollution of the oceans, seas and waters, through research and innovation, citizen engagement and blue investments. It has allocated around €350 million in seed funding for the period 2021-2023 for the Horizon Europe Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters”, including €43 million in 2023 on protection and restoration of European natural lake ecosystems and biodiversity, landscape water retention capacity, and addressing nutrient pollution in the landscape-river-sea system in the Mediterranean sea-basin, under the joint umbrella of the European Missions “Restore our Ocean and Waters”, “Adaptation to Climate change” and “Soil Deal for Europe”.

The EU also commits to create an inclusive, non-binding and inspirational framework to enhance cooperation and mobilize resources to tackle the poor health of all waters. The Charter of the Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters“ 2030 brings together the EU Member States and Associated Countries, relevant third countries, regional and local authorities, representatives of sea and river basins, intergovernmental organisations, as well as academia, industry representatives, investors, and the civil society. All are encouraged to submit actions to restore the status of marine and fresh waters that are inherently connected.

Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA)

PRIMA is the Horizon 2020 partnership between EU and non-EU Mediterranean countries developing much-needed solutions for a more sustainable management of water, farming, and food systems in the Mediterranean basin. It currently runs from 2018 to 2028.

An effective instrument for R&I collaboration and an example for successful science diplomacy in a challenging neighbourhood.

PRIMA contributes significantly to the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Mediterranean Region, by using for instance key performance indicators that measure progress towards planned goals taking as reference the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Mediterranean Area.

PRIMA’s total budget is €494 million, with up to €220 million coming from H2020 and €274 million from national resources from the participating countries. See the open calls.

Conclusions from the conference

The EU has proposed a set of voluntary 33 commitments to for the Water Action Agenda.

More information

Horizon Europe Cluster 6: Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment

EU Missions in Horizon Europe

Water research area

EU at UN Water Conference



Publication date
21 March 2023 (Last updated on: 31 March 2023)
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation