The InnWater project aims to promote social innovation, to renew multi-level and cross-sectoral water governance associated with economic and financial mechanisms, and to support EU Green Deal transitions while ensuring water system sustainability.

The overall approach of InnWater is embedded in the social innovation approach that considers the (1) technological, (2) governance, (3) capacity development, and (4) economic dimensions of innovative solutions. By considering these four approaches, InnWater aims to give stakeholders a clear role to co-develop and customise  governance solutions that they can independently apply.

This will lead to the replication of InnWater solutions and the identification of the policy and regulatory recommendations at the local, European, and international levels. The methodology provides tailored, innovative, and cross sectoral governance tools that will be tested and co-developed over five pilot sites.

The sites are from five different countries and will implement different types of governance mechanisms and cover different water challenges:

  • France (La Réunion – Economic focus)
  • Italy (il Brenta – Ecosystem services – Drinking water sector)
  • Spain (Figueres – Water scarcity)
  • United Kingdom (West Country – Water quality)
  • Hungary (Middle Tisza – Water allocation).

In support of the EU Green Deal Transitions and to guarantee the sustainability of water systems, six distinct objectives have been established:

InnWater objectives in difference coloured circles

The involvement of citizens in matters that previously appeared restricted to governments (e.g., the protection and use of key natural resources) is one of the most notable social changes in recent decades and one of the pillars of the concept of “governance”. The constant increase in landscape and multisectoral approaches (e.g., WEFE nexus thinking incorporation) that seek to overcome silo thinking is a trend in the European environmental agenda (e.g., Rexus and Lenses projects) and one of the basic conditions for ensuring results of projects such as InnWater are incorporated by decision-makers.

Most of the pilot sites are governed by public bodies and their associations. Often a political will and a majority consensus are needed to approve and accept new governance approaches. InnWater’s participatory approach will also aim to test the tools through iterative processes, build capacity in the pilot and replication sites to generate broad social acceptance of governance solutions, and increase communication and understanding of the project.

The InnWater methodology is based on four pillars:

  • Improved water governance assessment framework
  • Quintuple helix and social engagement
  • Improved economic and financial tool design
  • Social innovation

Pillar one, improved water governance assessment framework, aims to provide water managers with improved assessment tools and innovative practices for better water, climate, and biodiversity conservation policies.

Pillar two, quintuple helix and social engagement, aims to include the participation of all stakeholders, including citizens, and to consider other sectors when developing governance solutions.

Pillar three, improved economic and financial tool design for basin authorities and utilities, aims to link water resource management with economic activities, the Green Deal with environmental observations, to ensure transparency and equity of tariff systems.

Pillar four, social innovation supporting InnWater cross-sector and multi-level governance platform for improving water governance and policy recommendations, aims to provide an integrated platform that will serve as a common pool of resources and support, while combining technological and non-technological dimensions of innovation.

A realistic image of the earth from space at night with light emissions from large urban areas and atmospheric haze. The center of the view is Europe. The image is a rendered 3d scene.

Changing Landscapes, Changing Solutions

Water-related challenges are diverse and complex, varying across localities and influenced by social, economic, and environmental factors. Effective water governance must integrate policies that address interconnected issues such as climate, agriculture, and biodiversity, while aligning with local contexts and coordinating across administrative boundaries to tailor solutions for specific challenges.

Know more about INNWater methodology & solutions

At the heart of the project are the pilot sites and the communities surrounding them. Here, the partners will test and develop the innovations for water governance, by considering the criteria presented in the proposal, such as the quintuple helix and citizen (trust) engagement framework, WEFE Nexus economic and resources allocation simulation, which includes both household water tariff and environmental costs.


Réunion Island






West Country


Middle Tisza


International Office for Water (OiEau)
Logo P4 Universite de rouen
Université de La Réunion (UR)
Etifor Valuing Nature
Fundacio Eurecat (EURECAT)
SIWI logo 2021 - dark blue circle with light blue wave on top. SIWI written on the right
Stockholm International Water Institute
REKK Energiapiaci Tanacsado KFT (REKK, Hungary)
European Water Regulators (WAREG)
Logo P9 EUI
European University Institute (EUI, Italy)
Közép-Tisza-vidéki Vízügyi Igazgatóság (KÖTIVIZIG, Hungary)
Logo P11 CBB
Consiglio di Bacino Brenta (CBB, Italy)
Ajuntament de Figueres (Figueres, Spain)

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon EUROPE research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 101086512.

In addition, this work was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee [grant number 10066637].