The India Pilot Initiative on water and bio-resources challenges was launched at the Delhi EU/MS-India Stakeholders conference in November 2010. As one of the components of the India pilot initiative, the Commission launched in July 2011 two water-related coordinated calls with India with a total budget of â‚¬32m funded equally by the two sides. As a result, some MS/AC intensified their cooperation activities with India in the field of water and bio-resources.
To bring the process to a higher, more comprehensive and strategic level, SFIC decided in 2011 to work on a draft strategic agenda outlining a broader range of common challenges, objectives, priority areas and instruments for EU/MS-India cooperation for the coming years. This policy development process received a boost at the EU-India Summit on 10 February 2012, when, at the initiative of the Indian side, a joint declaration on research and innovation was signed. The Joint Declaration aims at enhancing the scale, scope and impact of cooperation and at building an "Indo-European research and innovation partnership", with a focus on common societal challenges and enhanced synergies between India and the EU.
At the ministerial meeting took place in Brussels on 31 May 2012 the ministers agreed on a Brussels communiqué which called for i) jointly define the scope and develop a Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda - a White Paper, ii) Establish a Group of Senior Officials (GSO) and iii) setting up an industry-driven India-Europe stakeholder group for research and innovation.
In parallel to the ministerial meeting over 200 European and Indian stakeholders from the public and private sectors gathered in the EU/MS-India Stakeholders' conference in Brussels on 31 May - 1 June 2012 at a conference organized by DG Research and Innovation to discuss common challenges, priority areas and instruments to boost Europe-India cooperation in research and innovation.
India-EU and Member States Partnership for a Strategic Roadmap in Research and Innovation, Delhi India 2010 – extract of the conference report
The European Union and many of its Member States have long-standing bilateral science and technology cooperation with India. The multitude of existing and well established bilateral and multilateral frameworks provided the basis for SFIC to propose India as a strategic partner country and to design a pilot initiative with the objective of implementing mutually beneficial coordinated and joint cooperation activities.
Where a collective response to major societal challenges promises the best results a more coordinated approach will benefit European and Indian partners through agreement on common interests and mutual benefit, identifying excellent human S&T resources and capacity and avoiding duplication of activity. Both in Europe and in India we are confronted with water-related challenges.
The growing scarcity of water resources is considered a major impediment to sustainable development, wealth creation, global human health and the eradication of poverty.
The European Commission and the EU Member States together with the Indian Government therefore identified water-related challenges as the initial overarching theme offering real potential for mutually beneficial cooperation. It reflects the experience of the EU in focusing on a few major societal challenges and in underpinning the EU’s overall political objective of sustainable development. India has a specific technology mission, launched in April 2009: ‘Winning, Augmentation and Renovation (WAR) for Water’ with 26 activities in 7 research packages to identify viable solutions to solve the problem of water scarcity in the country at affordable cost.
In 2000 the EU issued a directive establishing a framework for action in the field of water policy, with particular regard to the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater.
As an overarching theme, water related challenges, combines a broad spectrum of science, technology and innovation streams. As such it encompasses, in addition to water research, technology and applications, a broad range of research areas such as environment, health, food, agriculture, biotechnology, energy, etc. Climate change, for example, has a major impact on water resources, water systems, and water availability.
Effective food security depends to a large extent on the sustainable management of water, and water is essential for healthy life. At the same time the demand for clean water is growing rapidly through urbanization, population increase, rising income and economic growth.