Water is essential to life and key to economic development and prosperity. The quality of water varies greatly around the world, with many regions facing severe shortages. Arid climates are particularly susceptible to shortage. Water scarcity not only threatens mankind, but also the peaceful coexistence of nations. Sustainable management of water and aquatic ecosystems should therefore be given top priority worldwide. Clean waters are not self-evident. Many countries in the world spend billions annually to attain this objective. Numerous developing and newly-industrialized countries suffer from acute water shortage.
Through the establishment of a functional research center focusing on water issues, cutting-edge research can be conducted synergistically in a central location that is easily accessible to scientists from the international community. Multidisciplinary teams of specialists in the fields of environmental engineering, natural and social sciences now have a platform to jointly develop solutions to environmental problems. The acquired knowledge and know-how is currrently transmitted internationally by publications, lectures, teaching, and consulting to the private and public sector. Emphasis is also placed on disseminating knowledge (publications, conferences, and training) electronically via an on-line web portal and social networks.
The mission of the Nireas International Water Research Center (Nireas-IWRC) is to:
- develop technologies for sustainable water use, treatment and reuse,
- introduce ground-breaking testbed platforms for improving water quality and quantity,
- positively impact Cyprus’s water-scarcity problem through scientific and socioeconomic research on water production, purification and efficient distribution,
- provide research facilities for the international scientific community in support of water-related technology development,
- help shape society’s attitude towards water preservation and sustainable management, and develop a community outreach program with the primary goal of affecting public attitude towards water use,
- attract world-renowned researchers to NIREAS-IWRC for conducting cutting-edge water-related research,
- help bridge the gap between academia, research and industry through joint research efforts with SMEs and independent researchers,
- serve as an institute/dissemination point for scientific development of sustainable water technologies and practices,
- develop socioeconomic instruments to enhance societal responses to sustainable water management and quality protection,
- enhance dissemination and education activities related to water issues.
The immediate and longer term benefits that are expected as a result of Nireas-IWRC’s operation are:
- increase local awareness of cutting-edge issues in the area of water research.
- further train researchers in the advanced systems that will be developed and applied.
- consolidate and leverage the collective skills of the participants towards multi-disciplinary research, frontier knowledge and expertise that will lead to novel developments in the field of water management.
- set the stage for advancing the competitiveness of the related science in Cyprus.
- enhance the research quality of all academic scientists involved thus promoting excellence.
- create opportunities for the participants to attract and retain scientific talent with expertise in the specific thematic areas. This further helps in reversing the brain drain especially from Cyprus to other EU countries but also to the United States.
At the local level, the project will help the scientists develop new collaborations with water works and public authorities since these organizations are expected to need assistance in upgrading their systems and approaches towards water management schemes in the near future, moving from conventional notions and systems to more advanced ones. On an EU level, the project helps some of the participants to become further integrated in the European research area by the development of a self-sustaining core in the specific research areas. The participants hope to provide an ongoing mechanism for the transfer of knowledge between the Nireas-IWRC members and also with other institutions with which Nireas-IWRC collaborates, thus maximizing the impact and added value of the project. Nireas-IWRC generates the opportunity for future collaboration between the new researchers recruited. Based on the new insight that rises through the various projects, Nireas-IWRC opens the horizon towards new thinking and new directions for future research and development in the water sector.
In research projects like the ones that will be designed and implemented in the framework of the Nireas-IWRC operation, and for questions like the ones to be answered within these projects, the collaboration between scientists and practitioners is of crucial importance. Unfortunately, it is infrequent that academics have the opportunity to work under real conditions, and Nireas-IWRC establishment benefits both sectors and the society for the benefit of water management. New ideas have started to rise that have and will lead to new joint projects in order to investigate new processes, develop new systems and continually be at the frontier of research, technology and development.