Communities of Practice (CoPs)

What is a Community of Practice?

Communities of practice (CoPs) are defined as social learning systems that bring together people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly"

There are three fundamental elements to a CoP: the domain, the community and the practice. To cultivate a CoP, the combination of the three must be developed in parallel.

Three Fundamental Elements of a COP


A CoP distinguishes from other networks since its members identify themselves by a shared domain of interest. Membership involves a commitment to the domain and a shared competence.


While showing their interest in their domain, community members share information, help each other and join activities and discussions. In this form of interaction, members build relationships in order to learn from each other and to support each other.


Members of a CoP do not only share a common interest, they are engaged in common practice, as an iterative social process, where they develop a shared repertoire of resources. These can be experiences, stories, tools or ways of addressing recurring problems. To develop this kind of a shared practice it takes time and continuous interaction.

As such, CoPs bring together relevant stakeholders to develop a common understanding of a given topic, to arrive at solutions that are co-developed, supported, and finally accepted by all parties.

ULTIMATE CoPs, specifically, will bring together stakeholders such as end-users, technology providers, utilities, industry in the agriculture, energy, water and other sectors, regulators, local and regional authorities and researchers who share an interest on water issues, water technologies and industrial symbiosis. By interacting regularly, ULTIMATE CoP participants will exchange knowledge, develop ideas and learn together, thereby contributing to innovative and effective solutions for sustainable water management in the context of industrial symbiosis.

Why does ULtimate need CoPs?

Innovative solutions to the globe’s most pressing issues will come about as a result of effective collaboration, communication and knowledge exchange. Research has shown that bringing people together from different backgrounds and interests can elevate the potential for relevant innovations to be effectively applied at the local level as well as up scaled and diffused. As such, Communities of Practice (CoPs) are a vital component to EU Projects to deliver solutions tailored and co-created by a diverse group of individuals who can ensure the long-term success of technologies and innovations developed and tested in project case studies.

Within the ULTIMATE project, KWR researchers helps Case Study leaders to design and implement CoPs, to engage locally relevant stakeholders from various expertise and backgrounds. Each CoP will enable the participants to discuss, work together and outline the steps towards successful design and implementation of water-related technologies and innovations. Furthermore, participants to the CoPs will benefit from learning from each other and developing relationships with local partners on tangible technologies and innovations for a water-wise world.

How does ULTIMATE support COPs?

At each step of the way, KWR researchers will support the CoP coordinators and moderators to deliver effective CoP meetings, both online and in person, with the latest tools and techniques.

Guidance Document

As part of the support offered, KWR has compiled an extensive guidance document for the organisation, implementation and monitoring of CoPs in the ULTIMATE project.

This guidance is intended for the use by CoPs coordinators and moderators in ULTIMATE. It builds on previous work conducted in a number of EU projects where CoPs were implemented, namely, BINGO, STOP-IT, NextGen, as well as existing literature. The document is practical in application for case study leaders/owners, as well as innovative with a multitude of approaches and avenues to convene a multidisciplinary CoP meeting

Current Status of ULTIMATE CoPs

As of April 2021, KWR has been supporting the Case Studies in compiling and coordinating information, beginning their stakeholder mapping and CoP meeting roadmap planning, and offering feedback to ensure effective CoPs for the duration of the project.

KWR will also be supporting the Case Studies by hosting one-on-one meetings, as well as cross-fertilisation meetings so that each Case Study and CoP can learn from each other and continue to improve on content delivery and CoP methods.

ULTIMATE Case Studies will launch their CoPs with a first meeting between June and November 2021. Stay tuned for the outcomes!

Further information & Contact

If you would like more information about the ULTIMATE CoPs, please reach out to

Stefania Munaretto

Raül Glotzbach