Innovation and collaboration are the key to solving the water crisis, conference hears

Experts from across Europe attended a hybrid event organised by Areflh on Thursday to discuss strategies to deal with the acute water shortage and its impact on the agricultural sector. The event brought together a number of stakeholders from the sector, including political decision-makers, project leaders, researchers, technical directors, agronomists and consultants.

Areflh water conference

(l-r) Simona Caselli, Pedro Narro and Luca Perez

“No food without soil and water” was the message from Pedro Narro from the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), who launched the conference. Luca Perez, from the European Commission’s DG Environment, then stressed the importance of having a debate based on facts and a holistic approach to water resilience.

He said Europe should lead the way in tackling the water shortage, which is not just a problem for Europe but also for neighbouring countries and has a direct impact on human rights, conflicts and immigration.

The second part of the conference provided an overview of local initiatives, projects and technological innovations in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and around the world.

Areflh president Simona Caselli commented: “Today’s conference brings the Areflh to the very heart of its mission, that of bringing together the sector’s stakeholders, disseminating existing solutions and sharing knowledge”.

In her conclusion to the event, she emphasised the importance of innovation and her conviction that the young farmers of today and tomorrow will find it increasingly easy to make use of it.

Caselli also pointed out that the essential tool for meeting the challenges and gaining access to innovation is for producers to come together: in producer organisations, associations of producer organisations or cooperatives.

Furthermore, it is also important to create collaborative infrastructures in the field of research, innovation and technology in order to integrate them into the development of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The conference was part of the work begun by Areflh last year with the creation of a working group on water made up of members representing regions, experts and fruit and vegetable producers. The topic will also be on the agenda of the public conference to be held on 21 March alongside the association’s general meeting.

A video of the conference is available until August 2024 at