The efforts of experts from 11 different countries have been hailed as “crucially important” after they gathered at MIT in October for a two-day desalination workshop.

The event was organized by the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) and its director, John Lienhard.

The workshop explored different ways to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of seawater desalination plants. Participants discussed the technological, economic and regulatory issues that need to be tackled as the world attempts to provide access to clean water with a minimal carbon footprint.

In doing so, they considered desalination solutions at all scales, from small local installations through to megaprojects.

The experts also framed a report that was delivered in November at the 22nd session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP22, in Marrakesh, Morocco. The aim is to map out the areas where research and development, and demonstration projects are most needed and could yield the greatest benefits.

Maria Zuber, MIT’s Vice-President for Research, told the participants “what you are doing is so crucially important”. She added: “We need a breakthrough on this, and thanks to the efforts of all of you, I think we’re going to have it.

A final report from the workshop will be produced during winter 2016 to outline “what are the priorities for research funding, what are the barriers, and how to prioritize the work,” said Lienhard.