Posted on April 27, 2018
Euro-Mediterranean and Lebanese innovators, researchers and stakeholders discuss challenges and opportunities in food, energy and water
Berytech – the Ecosystem for Lebanese Entrepreneurs, successfully concluded a series of events as the local partner of the H2020 European Union-funded 5TOI_4EWAS project – which proposes a radically new way to generate and encourage innovation and research in the fields of water, energy and food in the region using the NEXUS approach.
Berytech brought together Euro-Mediterranean and Lebanese innovators, researchers, policy makers, international companies, investors and industrialists from the region for four days to facilitate international cooperation for the development of innovative solutions in the areas of water, energy and food. The different activities culminated during the Euro-Med Innovation Day event organized by Berytech with the financial support of the European Union and in collaboration with Beirut Digital District on April 26, 2018 in BDD1280.
“As the world population approaches 8 billion, with increasing demands for basic services and growing desires for higher living standards, the need for more conscious stewardship of these vital resources has become both more obvious and urgent,” commented Ramy Boujawdeh, Deputy General Manager at Berytech, speaking on behalf of Maroun N. Chammas, Berytech Chairman and CEO.
In the MENA region – where economic and political challenges are common and resources are scarce, water, energy and food securities are considered an important drive to peace and prosperity. Water security, energy security and food security are inextricably linked and actions in any one area usually have impacts in one or both of the others; “therefore, there is a need to tackle this matter at the macro and government policy level through mobilizing the innovation ecosystem to improve access to these resources and mobilizing their use to optimize economic development,” explained Boujawdeh.
He went on to say that there was a need to put more efforts regionally and locally to create the right context to develop awareness, generate opportunities and build momentum for innovation in the field of Agriculture, Food, Water, Sanitation and Renewable Energies. “This is where Berytech comes in, as the local partner of the 5TOI Project, bringing Euro-Mediterranean experts, innovators and researchers together in Lebanon.”
The 5TOI_4EWAS project, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, focuses on solving three key challenges – Food, Energy and Water Security on a global level. This is done through the Nexus approach which integrates management, governance and open innovation across sectors, supporting the transition to a green economy, sustainable development, optimization of resources and collaboration among different stakeholders.
Dr. Manuel Valiente, Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and a research member of the 5TOI_4EWAS consortium, explained that the open innovation approach required to face future Nexus challenges in the region demands sustainable scientific and technical education, such as Capacity Building through Innovation by means of an Innovation Education (INNOEDU) Program for postgraduates from Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPC) addressing NEXUS challenges. “Most importantly, in order for the long-term cooperation between EU-MPC to be effective, the inclusive and multidisciplinary engagement and involvement of all the relevant stakeholders of the corresponding water, energy and food value chains is crucial and required,” he concluded.
The water-energy-food security nexus framework is particularly suited to the Arab region given the stressors, constraints and strong interdependencies between sectors. It is further necessitated by the cross-sectoral effect of climate change predicted for the region. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), as part of efforts to help member countries achieve an integrated approach to the SDGs – Sustainable Development Goals, is implementing a project to develop their capacity to examine and address the water and energy nexus.
“The utilization of technology and science in food, water and energy security has proved to be the most effective and productive way in many parts of the world. The interrelationship between energy, water and food is of paramount importance in Arab countries and becomes more urgent in a region that lacks water and food, and suffers from conflicts that were said to be born due to the economic and living needs for food, energy and water. At the same time, there are scientific potentials in our universities and research centers that are not linked to the problems of our society and economy, and there lies the opportunity to channel scientific and investment potential towards transforming sustainable development challenges into targeted investment opportunities.”, said Dr. Fouad Mrad, Frontier Technologies Program, UN-ESCWA.
Over the course of the four-day event, stakeholders from across the region discussed the latest 5TOI_4EWAS project developments, related research and training. More than 150 participants from various organizations and companies took part in a series of interactive panel discussions, Nexus Think Tank meeting, working groups, workshops, H2020 training and networking events organized by Berytech.
The activities culminated at the Euro-Med Innovation day which included three interactive panels with international and local experts in food, water and energy sectors, in addition to expert matchmaking activities to create collaboration opportunities.
Panel 1 focused on solving regional challenges in food, water and energy by analyzing the major indicators and outcomes derived from Nexus Think Tank network in the fields of water, energy and food. Panel 2 discussed funding mechanisms to face future NEXUS challenges in the region to support the innovation development, capacity building and partnership building in the Med region. Panel 3, entitled Innovation in Action, showcased concrete initiatives for implementing the NEXUS innovation approach in businesses and programs, highlighting the importance of this concept, encouraging the growth of the NEXUS community in the region.
The day concluded with a matchmaking and networking session that provided a unique opportunity for participants to connect with leading partners and experts, get industry insights and tailored recommendations, learn about interesting projects or initiatives, explore synergies and set up potential partnerships – all related to exchanging expertise and exploring collaboration in the fields of water, energy and food.
The full 5TOI project-related program, organized by Berytech in collaboration with Beirut Digital District, was supported by The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at AUB, Foundation Diane, the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation, The Nationals Council for Scientific Research, LARI, CEWAS Middle East, and e-eco Solutions.
The project contributes to enhance and support regional smart specialization and development by increasing research capacity, effective mobility of young innovators/researchers and shared knowledge to improve their participation in the EU research area. It also contributes to the establishment of favorable and stable conditions for international cooperation and the set-up of a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space of specialization in the SMN for a real socio-economic impact, based on co-ownership and mutual benefits. www.5toi.eu