Why these societal challenges? Resource Efficiency, High Quality Affordable Food and Energy: The three Societal Challenges addressed by the MED-SPRING EMEG

Nowadays, the dimension of international cooperation could play an important role in achieving the Horizon 2020 main objectives. According to the new EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation2, the identification of priority areas will be done within the most relevant societal challenges and applying the principles of co-ownership and co-funding. Therefore, an adequate valorization of research results in the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation on Research and Innovation, as well as a proper identification of the common problems, priorities and urgent actions to be carried out, is of utmost importance for achieving the Horizon 2020 objectives.

The MIRA project, predecessor of INCO.Net MEDSPRING, organized three Euro-Mediterranean Workshops in 2009 on Water, Food and Agriculture and Energy. Participants of these events - researchers and stakeholders from MPCs, EU Member States and the European Commission - agreed on an important number of thematic priorities to be considered as of common EU-MPC interest, among which water scarcity management in agriculture, energy efficiency and wind energy, or coastal zone, freshwater ecosystems and natural hazards, received the attention of FP7 KBBE, ENERGY and ENV Work Programmes from 2010 to 2013. Nevertheless, other identified call-topics in areas for which there were a need of innovation (i.e. transferring knowledge to the productive system), such as renewable energy, water saving or agro-food, were not considered in the work Programmes. So building on efforts in these areas, niches for research valorisation and actions for innovation should be furthered.

In the case of Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation on Research and Innovation, the political statements delivered in recent crucial events and activities conveying a high critical mass of researchers and policy makers, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Research and Innovation (held in Barcelona in 2012), the MoCo recommendations and the MIRA project conclusions, highlight that main common priorities and specific topics for research are to be sought in the areas of water, food, energy, health and environment.

MEDSPRING aims at strengthening the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation on Research and Innovation in three identified thematic areas - Resource efficiency (particularly Water), High Quality Affordable Food and Energy, identified as Societal Challenges in Horizon 2020 - , contributing therefore to build a Euro-Mediterranean frame of common objectives and actions to be addressed. In concrete, the main issues to be focused, challenges to be addressed and expected results of these thematic areas are described, by the political statements above mentioned, as follows:

Resource efficiency: Water is the main resource that calls for an efficient and sustainable management in the Mediterranean countries, particularly those countries being characterized by water scarcity or limited water availability.