AquaKnow, a platform for a common good: water

I would like to write about a tool that is essential if an actor wants to start a project in the framework of a European program about environmental issues, but we need to remember that there is more than just one tool, there are many others.

Aquaknow, as the European Commission defined it, is a collaborative workspace and content management system dedicated to technical and scientific knowledge for the sustainable development of the water sector.

Aquaknow’s platform is managed by the Joint Research Center (JRC), which is the main research institution within the European system. The JRC works in close collaboration with the European Commission’s DG Development and Cooperation (DEVCO). To make things easier, know that the first one is the technical component and that DEVCO applies the political and strategic positions coming from the Council of  the EU. For that matter, DEVCO is tasked with designing cooperation programs.

The first reason for Aquaknow to exist is to help the work of the JRC. We could list some of its objectives: the JRC can obtain and supervise the information about how a project works and its results; obtain data from other willing environmental actors if they are interested in Aquaknow – such as NGOs, companies, researchers, etc.

On the other hand, Aquaknow can come in very handy to help checking and crossing data-information shared by different actors about a particular issue; it hence works as a way to confirm or infirm some of them; or use the information obtained by Aquaknow and compare it with another source of information such as another platform, another regional organization like the ECLAC, etc.

Third, the platform can be seen as a first approach if the JRC wants to know what kinds of actors play relevant roles in water-related matters. In other words, it contributes to having a sample of actors that are interested in the problematic; maybe a small sample, but it could be important when the EU comes to designing a strategy.

That is why the platform is strongly recommended by WaterClima-LAC, which reckons that a consortium should share all its results, data, information, experiences, ideas, etc. Alternatively, a consortium can look for new partners.

The remaining issue is that these kinds of tools are more profitable to European companies than to other actors. It is clear that the JRC works in the best interests of its regions, and depending on the political position of Latin-American countries, it should probably be used as a tool to building the necessary infrastructure: aqueducts, ports, energy, food storage facilities, mines, or others.

It is also clear that only a researcher, a NGO, a CSO or a company with profit motives can obtain Aquaknow’s information. It is a good idea to work together in order to achieve a better world, but everybody should be willing to work towards a common objective regardless of the profit motives.