A trailblazing collaboration to help countries around the world improve the way they manage water has won an international award.
Co-ordinated by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), the POWER project – Political and Social Awareness on Water and Environmental Challenges – aimed to raise awareness about flood risk, the need to conserve water, water consumption and water quality.
Researchers ran projects in four different cities over four years, working in Leicester, Milton Keynes, Jerusalem in Israel and Sabadell in Spain. Each city focused on a different aspect of water sustainability, bringing together residents, students, activists, businesses and councils online to share ideas and work together to improve water use.
It has been so successful that it was announced as the winner of this year’s Water Innovation Europe prize for Water Governance. Water Innovation Europe is an organisation that brings together key figures in the EU water industry with the goal of improving water sustainability in Europe.
Dr Leticia Ozawa-Meida, senior research fellow on POWER, said: “We are excited to have this recognition for the project and the work of our partners. We believe that the tools, engagement approaches and methodologies of the project have contributed to social and political changes in our partner cities.
“This award recognises not only the achievements of the project, but also the capability of replicating them in other cities supporting the continuation of the legacy of the project.”
VC 2020 senior lecturer Dr Anna Strzelecka said: ”I’m very pleased that all the hard work channelled into this project has been recognised. This award acknowledges the tools, models and methodologies we developed as the valuable instruments that they are, and gives them the possibility for a second life.”
The POWER project created a digital social platform with gamification features and a repository of best practices that had been shared and tested in each of the four cities to ensure the informed growth of political and social awareness and action on water environmental challenges.
More than 16,000 people have so far visited the websites and thousands of people have taken part in activities associated with the project. Other cities have also started using the POWER tools and engagement models to help them improve the way they manage water while its approach of putting citizens at the heart of policymaking resulted in changes in each of the four cities.
Milton Keynes’s focus was on saving water, Leicester looked at raising awareness of flood risk, Sabadell did activities around water quality, while Jersualem’s efforts concentrated on water conservation.
This week (June 22 to 25) is Water Innovation Week, helping raise awareness of innovations that can help the planet. A series of online events is taking place, including an online conference tomorrow where with DMU’s Professor Ljiljana Marjanovic-Halburd is due to showcase the work of the POWER project.
Among the people attending the online events this week are scientists, researchers, water companies, local authorities across Europe and civil society organisations.