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Members of the ITG on water resources gathered at BRICS Water Forum.

According to participants in the BRICS Water Forum (Moscow, September 29-30, 2016) of all global water challenges today only clean water may be addressed through technological innovations


Ensuring clean water is the only ‘water issue’ that can be solved today

According to participants in the BRICS Water Forum, of all global water today only clean water may be addressed through technological innovations.

The International Scientific and Practical Conference ‘BRICS Water Forum’ took place at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and was organized on the initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. The event brought together 280 Russian and 60 international experts from 17 countries. The Forum hosted a meeting of the ‘Water Resources and Pollution Treatment’ International Thematic Group of the BRICS Network University, presentations of the ‘BRICS Clean Rivers’ program and BRICS Network University, and business meetings of forum participants.

At the forum common water issues for the BRICS countries and approaches to addressing these issues in the mid- and long-term perspective were discussed. ISSEK/HSE’s Foresight Centre presented the outcomes of its study related to global technological trends related to water resources. The exercise was implemented with the use of on text-mining methods: smart analysis of large volumes of unstructured text data.

According to HSE experts, this Big Data point that of all water-related global challenges only affordable and accessible clean water may be addressed through technological innovations. ‘Unfortunately, the proper technological base is still not in place to solve such problems as the negative impact of climate change on water resources, rising water stress and groundwater depletion,’ said Ilya Kuzminov, Leading expert at ISSEK/HSE.

Text mining also unveiled the discrepancy in water availability among developed and developing countries will further widen. Existing global research and development are primarily aimed at rectifying water resource issues in developed countries and largely do not aim to address these immediate problems in developing countries that are desperate for this support.

This situation could be improved through expanding technology transfer amongst BRICS countries, as well as developing R&D partnerships among scientists and water specialists in these countries. For instance, as of 2017, funds from the BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Framework Programme will be allocated to finance joint R&D projects in priority areas carried out by research organizations and universities in BRICS countries. The first call for such projects was announced by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation in May 2016. ‘70 applications were submitted in Russia. Around 10% of these applications cover water issues. The results of the competition will be tallied at the meeting of BRICS funding organizations that support scientific and innovation parts of the call. This meeting will take place in February 2017,’ said Sergei Salikhov, Director of the Department of Science and Technology at the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.

You can learn more about the forum on its website. There you can also find information about the participants’ recommendations put together in the final document (resolution).