Stockholm World Water Week is one of the largest events in the water and sanitation sector, attended by more than 1500 professionals from a huge range of European and Developing Countries. What better venue than this to raise awareness about the SPLASH project which is working towards improving coordination of European-funded research on water for development?
SPLASH is the name of the European Union Water Research Area Network (EUWI ERA-Net), financed through the EC Framework Programme 6. Coordinated by DFID, it is a Consortium of 15 ministries, funding agencies and national research and development agencies from 11 countries in Europe. Its main objectives are to minimise duplication of research, identify areas where there are gaps, share good research management practice, resulting ultimately in joint research programmes.
Partners from the six SPLASH work packages were present at World Water Week, providing opportunities to meet face-to-face to discuss progress and to get to know each other better, which is key to success in such a collaborative venture.
The presence of SPLASH at World Water Week allowed us to inform those outside the Consortium about the programme and to motivate people to get involved, through various events including a report to the EU-WI Multi stakeholder forum, and poster presentations. We hosted a 'speed networking event' on the evening of Tuesday 14th August which provided a unique and fun experience for the 70 participants, at the same time allowing SPLASH to capture current thinking of how to enhance future water research. The evening was organized around five tables, each of which focussed a discussion of a specific question. Attendees joined one of the 20 minute discussions, before a bell signalled the move to a different table to meet another group of people and address another question. These covered topics such as research priorities, demand, improved dialogue, impact of research and capacity development.
There were some important findings, which were put forward to the World Water Week plenary:
Overall, the side event was rated a huge success with participants and organizers and a win-win activity for all concerned. Clearly this is just the beginning but SPLASH is set to continue to make waves in water for development over the next four years, working towards making the European Research Area a reality.