Smart Specialisation in the Context of Blue Economy – Analysis of Desalination Sector

Publication article | | Jan Post, Pieter de Jong, Matt Mallory, Mathieu Doussineau, Ales Gnamus

The smart Specialisation strategy design and implementation offer European territories a solid paradigm for developing effective innovation governance, improving innovation policy capacities, enhancing public-private partnerships, offering common platform for inter-regional cooperation activities, and an operative engagement of stakeholders in the international value chains. The sustainable Smart Specialisation strategies framework can play a key role as an enabler of a sustainable transformation of the European economy towards the Green Deal by streamlining innovation activities around the value chains to reach the competitiveness edge of Europe vis-à-vis the rest of the world. The Blue Economic activities represent an essential component of the European Green Deal activities in the regions and Member States by safeguarding healthy oceans, seas, and waters. One of the emerging blue economy sectors with considerable “greening” potential for a stable water supply in the ever-growing areas with increasing water imbalances is the desalination sector. Besides its essential role in providing water in the areas suffering water shortages, the sector has the potential for creating prosperity and employment in some territories of Europe through a combination of innovation-based sustainable water, energy and chemical technologies, coupled with environmental and societal challenges. This report aims at analysing the sector from the innovation, the EU policy and regional perspectives - in the latter with examples of implementation of desalination technologies in the three types of regions with specific water supply issues across Europe. Examples are provided in the water-scarce regions of the Southern Europe, in European Western and Northern regions, and in the particular case of island regions, where a stable water supply through desalination improves the living conditions and local economy substantially.


The report addresses the innovation aspects and smart specialisation in the desalination sector which provides a sustainable solution for agro-food systems and integrated water provision and management in the water-scarce areas, makes those often vulnerable territories more climate-resilient, efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally and socially sustainable, and contributes to climate adaptation by solving the water scarcity, food security, soil health by enhancing rainwater infiltration and water reuse, nutrition, health and well-being of the population in these areas. Given the increasing climate change pressures, a holistic approach to addressing global freshwater scarcity through sustainable and innovative solutions is needed. With the Green Deal approaches, the sector of desalination will get increasing protagonism in the endeavours to enhance territorial resilience, improve ecosystem services, biodiversity and a more sustainable agricultural production in Europe and beyond.


JRC Science for Policy Report

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