The flooding in 2021 and the long drought in the summer of 2022 remain fresh in our memory. Extremes in the climate such as heavy rainfall, flooding and drought are increasing in number and intensity. All that too is 'water'. Flanders has therefore placed water higher up its future agenda in a move towards a climate-resilient system. In addition to water purification and efficient and circular use of water, there has to be focus on system innovation and applications such as 'early warning' systems on the basis of enabling technologies such as sensors and artificial intelligence. Here is a selection of topics related to water and the climate.


The complex issue of energy is not an easy puzzle to solve. Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022 made that painfully clear once more. The resulting energy crisis has exposed our vulnerability and dependence yet again. It should not be surprising then that the vast cleantech 'energy' sector is receiving a great deal of attention. Innovative solutions offer many technical, political and societal options in terms of cost, reliability and sustainability. In this next chapter, we bring together a selection of energy-related topics from expert perspectives.

Circular Economy

A circular economy respects the finite stocks of raw materials and completely reuses residual materials. Waste only exists in the sense of raw material. For example, clothing and textiles, our second skin, are given a new purpose with the greatest possible added value, and after contaminated soil has been cleaned, it no longer poses a threat to health and the environment, but becomes available again. The ‘urban mine’ - cities and villages with their houses and cars - (the third and fourth skin) - also contains an enormous stock of reusable materials. In this edition, we are focusing on the PFAS problem.  Recently accrued knowledge really makes it clear how harmful PFAS is for people and the environment. The Flemish cleantech expertise in the domain of soil remediation and water purification also offers international perspectives for this transnational challenge.

Enabling technology

Technological innovation often comes about by combining existing technologies with so-called ‘enabling’ technologies. The most prominent are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. But sensors, drones, advanced materials, 3D printing, blockchain, robotics, digitalisation and digital twins also stimulate and facilitate new applications in various technological sectors. Whether it is in energy, circular economy or mobility, the potential of AI in cleantech is enormous. As can be read in the ‘Bloomberg NEF New Energy Outlook 2021’: ‘Using AI in the transition to clean energy can save 1.3 trillion dollars in thirty years’. We illustrate this importance here through some examples from the Flemish cleantech ecosystem and the views of experts.