You may already know that the Danube region comprises an impressive ecosystem we all benefit from. What is less known is that the Danube region also features an impressive research ecosystem. The latter has a direct impact on the well-being of people in this region and could be even more beneficial if its stock of knowledge, competence and human capital is put to good use. Exploiting this potential means acting in the fields of research, technology transfer, early stage and growth financing, as well as involving civil society and stakeholders at different levels.
The collaboration of local communities, scientists and businesses from the Danube region is the basis of a bottom-up research approach followed in a scientific initiative from the European Commission Directorate-General Joint Research Centre (JRC) supporting the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). In collaboration with the ICPDR, the JRC Danube Water Nexus flagship project is delivering, among other things, simulations of evolving energy and agriculture scenarios highlighting their respective environmental and socio-economic consequences.
JRC and ICPDR research in these areas has also explored how citizens may contribute to the process of data collection by providing their observations and measurements on developments in their region. This creates a new dynamic in data sharing as well as a technical challenge to ensure that such data can be readily captured, maintained and reused. More importantly, it offers a mechanism to democratise data, creating a sense of common ownership of issues between government and citizens, and a contribution to the sustainable development of the macro-region.
In the next phase of the work, the scientific knowledge put together through these activities must be handed over to the region’s actors and used to serve ICPDR and EUSDR priorities. This transfer can be facilitated through ad hoc gatherings of stakeholders, service operators, government and local communities focusing on the specific problems to be solved.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the JRC remains committed to reinforcing cooperation and deepening ties with the ICPDR and the scientific and local communities in the Danube Region.