University of Exeter: New HORIZON 2020 project aims to build an ecosystem for innovative climate change adaptation solutions

Experts from the Centre for Water Systems (CWS), College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, and the Centre for Simulation, Analytics and Modelling (CSAM), The Business School at University of Exeter have started to work on a new Horizon 2020 project called ARSINOE (climAte ReSIlient-regioNs thrOugh systEmic solutions and innovations).

ARSINOE is financed by the European Commission with a total budget of 15 million euros and is coordinated by the University of Thessaly, Greece. It brings together 41 partners from 15 countries and intends to be a game-changer for shaping pathways to resilience by delivering regional innovation packages that build an ecosystem to develop and implement innovative climate change adaptation measures and solutions across Europe.

Acknowledging that climate change is complex and strongly connected to other global challenges, such as food security, water scarcity, biodiversity depletion and environmental degradation, it is insufficient to use traditional approaches to innovation that focus on one aspect of the problem.

Systems Innovation Approach (SIA) addresses the developing complexity, interdependencies and interconnectedness of contemporary societies and economies, covering the functions of the cross-sectoral system as a whole and the respective variety of stakeholders. The Climate Innovation Window (CIW) refers to the European Union’s innovations marketplace for climate adaptation technologies.

Towards this direction, in the next four years the ARSINOE project will develop a methodological framework for the combination of SIA with the CIW to create an ecosystem under a three-tier approach: (a) integration of multi-faceted technological, digital, business, governance and environmental aspects with social innovation for the development of adaptation pathways to climate change, so as to meet EU Green Deal targets for specific regions; (b) linkage with CIW to form innovation packages by matching innovators with end-users and regions; (c) fostering the ecosystem sustainability and growth with cross-fertilization and replication across scales, at European level and beyond, using appropriate business models and exploitation-outreach actions.

Nine widely diverse regions across Europe will demonstrate the ARSINOE three-tier approach as a proof-of-concept with regards to its applicability, replicability, potential and efficacy. These are: (i) Athens metropolitan area (EL), (ii) Mediterranean ports including Port of Piraeus (EL), Limassol (CY) and Valencia (ES), (iii) Main river in Germany (DE), (iv) transboundary Ochrid/Prespa lakes (MK, AL, EL), (v) Canary Islands (ES), (vi) transboundary Black Sea including Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey (RO, BG and TR), (vii) Southern Denmark (DK), (viii) Torbay and Devon county (UK) and (ix) the Mediterranean island Sardinia (IT).

Prof Albert Chen and Prof Slobodan Djordjevic at the CWS and Prof Nav Mustafee at the CSAM will lead the Exeter team to participate in a broad range of research activities in the ARSINOE project, including the insight investigation and modelling of climate change hazards’ impacts on local communities and the cascading effects to surrounding areas and beyond. Novel technologies and adaptation strategies will be developed to inform policy-making for enhancing societal resilience to climate change. The University of Exeter is also leading the Torbay and Devon county case study, in collaboration with Torbay Council and Westcountry Rivers Trust, to pilot the solutions developed in ARSINOE.

Prof Albert Chen, who is the PI of the Exeter part of this project, emphasises that ARSINOE is built on top of the knowledge and skills, as well as the partnerships, that CWS has established in multiple successful projects in the past. We will further advance the methodologies together with partners with multidisciplinary expertise in the consortium, and implement the solutions in diverse case studies in the project such that the research from the University of Exeter will make a substantial impact across Europe.

Prof Nav Mustafee says that Exeter’s contribution to the project includes the development of a multi-system dynamic modelling framework for resilience assessment and its implementation using a plethora of advanced analytical techniques that support decision making, for example, computer simulations and digital twins, machine learning/AI, serious games and visualisation.

Prof Slobodan Djordjevic, who is the Co-Director of the CWS, mentions this new grant consolidates the Exeter Centre for Water Systems as one of the most successful groups when it comes to winning European Union research funding for water related projects in a range of programmes and in various contexts. We currently work in eight consortia, contributing to the European research agenda.

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