The WHOW project, launched in September 2020 and ending in August 2023 under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) framework, represents a significant step towards achieving the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in particular Goal #6 on Sustainable Water Management and Sanitation.
By promoting actions at the regional level, the UN Agenda urges countries to integrate Goal # 6, along with its target and indicators, into their national development plans by focusing on the issues regarding water management. Furthermore, it suggests an all-inclusive and strongly co-operational approach.
Relying on the data available in the United Nations Global SDG Indicators Database, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) released the 2021 assessment of SDG progress in the region. The Progress Index reports that the region will fully achieve 23 of the 169 SDG targets by 2030, while progress needs to accelerate on another 57 targets, and for 9 targets, the current trend needs to be reversed. “With 80 targets out of the total 169 that cannot be adequately measured by official statistics, it is also a reminder of the magnitude of the work still ahead of us to measure the complexity of sustainable development in an internationally comparable manner.” – UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova stated.
The WHOW project will address the issue of data quality and harmonization. The project intends to create the first European knowledge graph on water consumption and pollution, with data sources coming from different administrative levels. It will link this environmental data to health data on disease diffusion. The WHOW project partners will integrate datasets from Italy and other European countries, as well as through data available on the European Data Portal (EDP) and the Copernicus Space Infrastructure, making them available for re-use.
WHOW promotes a set of actions aiming at designing fully distributed systems that are sustainable over time, managing large amounts of data available in real time, opening data (currently not publicly available) in compliance with the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles and building common semantics compliant with reference standards sector that can contribute to harmonized and standardized data at the European level. These actions will be coupled with the capacity building activities within the partners’ organization and an external engagement programme for interested communities and users from the public and private sector.
The Action will support the development of the European service infrastructure for Public Open Data fostering the development of products and services based on the re-use and combination of environmental data and health data on disease diffusion.
Celeris Advisory Ltd (Ireland) is the Coordinator of the project, while other partners include the Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), the Innovation and procurement regional Company of Lombardy Region S.p.A. (ARIA) and the Italian National Research Council – Institute of cognitive sciences and technologies (CNR-ISTC).
“WHOW is an ambitious and challenging project as it aims to address a key global issue. It consists in achieving higher data quality and comparable data for the SDG Goals. Our efforts will be focused on data harmonization for selected SDG #6 indicators. This is our contribution to filling the current data knowledge gap to the benefit of the EU and the international community.” – Carmen Ciciriello, CEO Celeris Advisory and WHOW project Coordinator.
These challenges demonstrate a strong need for international cooperation and a fertile ground to combine efforts and find effective solutions within a sustainable timeframe. The UN Agenda requires countries and regions to achieve the SDG Goals by the end of 2030.