The World Impact Summit 2021 has ended today after 2 days (December 2-3) of inspirational talks, workshop and debates happened in Bordeaux, France. The event was structured in four main topics: objective net zero, circular economy, recovery planning, nature and biodiversity. These themes will be interconnected under a common umbrella and the crucial topic of the year: valuing water.
For this reason, Water Europe was actively involved during the event having five Members offering their contributions over 3 Sessions and 1 Workshop, including topics like: water and climate changes adaptations, acceleration of circularity in water consumption. Loïc Charpentier, Water Europe’s Policy Officer contributed to these 2 sessions with the following takeaways:
How European territories anticipate the effects of climate change?
✔ Anticipation and pro-activity are key to adapt our territories to climate change;
✔ Raising awareness on water-related challenges is also key to ensure inclusive governance and smooth adaptation to climate change;
✔ EU funds for innovation or environment (Life+, Horizon Europe, Erasmus+) are key to support the adaptation of our territories;
✔ Ensure the balance between of different activities, knowledge and finance to ensure acceptance.
In the afternoon of the World Impact Summit, during the session “Accelerate and intensify circularity in water consumption” where also Naomi Timmer (EJWP) was also moderating, the key messages were:
✔ Clarification of the terminology in water circularity is key to better understand the options between reuse, cascading, efficiency. Saving water saves energy;
✔ Foster mandatory awareness of industrial stakeholders to realize the value of water;
✔ Adapt the water circularity to the local level to maximize the benefits;
✔ Better management of inland water will have strong benefits for our costal activities and oceans.
Thanks to the other Water Europe’s Ambassadors Dimitris Kofinas (University of Thessaly), Kamal Azrague (SINTEF) and Clémence Pierre (France Water Team) for their contribution to some of the key water-related challenges, from nature-based solutions to French cleantech expertise.
As over 5.00o participants from a variety of backgrounds joined the event to deliver a positive impact, Water Europe also made its voice heard and clear on how we can contribute to build a Water-Smart Society.Read More
EU Commission invites cities to express their interest to become part of European Mission ”100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030”
The Commission launched a call for expression of interest addressed to cities to join the European Mission on Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities.
The objectives of the mission are to achieve 100 climate-neutral and smart European cities by 2030 and to ensure that these cities act as experimentation and innovation hubs to enable all European cities to follow suit by 2050.
Joining the mission will put the selected cities right at the innovation forefront of the transition towards climate neutrality, as part of the European Green Deal. As the fight against climate change increasingly turns to deployment of solutions, cities are best placed to be the early adopters of the policies to get to climate neutrality. In the process, it will allow them to deliver multiple benefits to their communities in terms of reduced air and noise pollution, less congestion, lower energy bills and healthier lifestyles.
See how you can participate here.Read More
The EEA’s new country profiles on urban waste water treatment present the latest data from all 27 EU Member States and Iceland and Norway on the implementation of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.
The country profiles contain interactive maps with waste water treatment plants across Europe. Each profile also shows data on the country’s progress towards waste water treatment targets, protection of sensitive water systems, use of waste water sludge, and greenhouse gas emissions from the waste water treatment sector.
The data show that waste water collection and treatment are improving across Europe. Across the whole EU, about 90% of urban waste waters are collected and treated in accordance with the EU Waste Water Treatment Directive.
Based on the country profiles, four countries – Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands – treat 100% of their urban waste water in compliance with the Directive’s requirements, while 10 additional countries have reached more than 90% compliance rate. At the other end of the scale are five countries – Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Malta – that comply in less than half of their urban areas according to the same standards.
Read the full article to learn more.Read More
On the 17th of November, the European Commission released its new strategy on healthy soils for people, food, nature and climate. Water Europe welcomes the new actions and targets which are in line with the resolution of the European Parliament and our recommendations for an healthy soils strategy: building on the water-soil nexus for an integrated and circular economy (April 2021).
The strategy recognises the crucial role of soil in the water cycle, call for a better coordination between the EU water-related legislation and the foreseen Soil Health Law which will build a comprehensive and water-smart framework for soil management. Particularly the synergies with the urban wastewater treatment directive, the industrial emissions directive, the list of surface water and groundwater pollutants will be actively exploited. Moreover, the medium-term objectives by 2030 set up in this strategy fully consider:
✔ the Water Framework directive targets,
✔ the quantitative status in groundwater,
✔ the reduction of nutrient losses, the fight against risks of chemicals pesticides and hazardous pesticides,
✔ the fight against desertification, droughts and floods.
Moreover, the European Commission recognises the buffer functions of healthy soils, the role of nature-based solutions, the setup of the digital agenda (eg. Sensors, apps) to monitor soils quality, improve knowledge and create synergies with the research and innovation funds.
The EC also stressed that: “recycling organic matter such as compost, digestate, sewage sludge, processed manure and other agricultural residues has many advantages: the material after appropriate treatment services as organic fertiliser, helps to replenish soil carbon pools, and improves water retention capacity and soil structure, and thus enables closing of the nutrient and carbon cycle” which is in line with the circular economy concept.
Lastly, the development of new business models/value networks for soil management are also promoted through the promotion of a “widespread uptake through a network of Living labs”, inclusive governance and the key role of farmers.Read More
Water Europe welcomes academic interns in the fields of communication, advocacy, science and technology. The objective of this academic internship programme is to give fresh graduates a first-hand experience of the day-to-day working environment in a Brussels-based European multi-stakeholder association like Water Europe.
How can you become a Water Europe intern?
• Are you enrolled in a master’s or in a Ph.D. programme, or in the final year of a bachelor’s programme?
• Do you have an excellent command of English?
As part of the Water Europe team, you will be working directly with outstanding and inspiring career professionals and senior management, you will be exposed to the EU institutions, participate in meetings, and contribute to analytical work. Initially, you will take on the amount of responsibility you can shoulder; the potential for growth, however, is yours to develop.
Read more and apply here.Read More
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has released the final sprint for Europe’s rivers report to put forward the results of an assessment carried out by the EEB and partner NGOs on the quality and level of commitment of 13 draft River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) in 8 EU Member States and one international River Basin District published before May 2021, drawing up conclusions and recommendations.
90% of river basins studied in various EU countries will still be unhealthy by 2027, new research reveals. This means those countries will miss the legally binding EU target to return Europe’s dirty freshwaters to health by then.
“The plans reveal a general failure of Member States to integrate water protection and the WFD’s environmental objectives for Europe’s waters with other policies, in particular energy, agriculture, and infrastructure policies. Twenty years after the adoption of the WFD, EU Member States continue to channel enormous amounts of public funds into environmentally harmful activities, which counteract and hinder the achievement of a good ecological, chemical and quantitative status for our waters. Mainstreaming sustainable water management in all EU and national policies must remain a key priority.” However:
🔹 Some improvements were made in the removal and adaptation on barriers, freshwater ecosystem protection and restauration, drought and flood management, addressing pollution from agriculture.
🔹 Large shortcomings in failure to apply cost recovery and the provision of an adequate budget, heavy reliance on exemptions, water allocation and abstraction control is not properly addressed.
🔹 Water legislations should be better aligned with sectorial legislation.Read More
The Council has recently approved the conclusions setting the EU’s position for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. The conclusions emphasise the extreme urgency to step up the global response to address the climate emergency and underline the need for a just and fair climate transition across the world.
“The world is currently not on course to keep global warming below 1,5 degrees. Many more collective efforts are needed to keep our planet’s temperature within safe limits.” said Andrej Vizjak, Slovenian Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning.
COP26 aims to bring countries together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The main goals of COP26 are to encourage parties to come forward with ambitious NDCs that establish their emission reduction targets for 2030, discuss adaptation measures, increase climate finance and finalise the Paris Rulebook.
The conclusions recall that the EU and its member states are the world’s leading contributors of climate finance and reconfirm their continued commitment to scaling up the mobilisation of international climate finance. They invite other developed countries to increase their contributions as part of the collective developed countries’ goal to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020 until 2025.
Find out more about the EU Conclusions here.Read More
The European Commission is introducing law draft aimed at preventing beef, palm oil and other products linked to deforestation from being sold in the EU single market of 450 million consumers. However, campaigners claimed that this plan will result in excluding endangered grasslands and wetlands, as well as products that raise environmental concerns, such as rubber and maize.
Therefore, the fragile Cerrado grasslands and the Pantanal wetlands are both under threat from soy and beef exploitation. According to the document, countries that sell these commodities into the EU, such as Russia, Brazil and the United States, would be classed as high, standard and low-risk, with controls on relevant exports depending on their status. These measures would “decisively contribute to saving biodiversity” and prevent over 71.000 hectares of forests being chopped down each year by 2030.
Daniel Blanco, Wetlands International LAC Director based at the Argentina Office, said, replied to the leaked EU anti-deforestation law draft which leaves out fragile wetlands, saying:
“Wetlands International is deeply concerned that wetlands have been excluded from the European Union’s draft anti-deforestation law. Wetlands are vital for climate, people and nature. The Pantanal, as well as the Paraguay-Parana wetland system down to the Parana Delta, is one of the world’s largest freshwater wetlands and one of the best carbon sinks nature has to offer. It is also home to amazing but sadly endangered species. Protecting all of us against climate change is about safeguarding these delicate and hugely beneficial ecological areas, by making sure regulations don’t just safeguard forests, but wetlands as well. We urge MEPs and environment ministers to extend the law to safeguard wetlands.”
Read the full article to learn more.Read More
This week, the European Commission released its work programme 2022 with some initiatives related to water. According to the Commission: “it demonstrates our determination to bounce forward from the pandemic stronger than before, accelerate the twin green and digital transitions and build a fairer, more resilient and more cohesive society, in line with the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement” in the continuity of the previous initiatives taken.
The document includes several initiative with direct or indirect impact on water-related dossiers:
☑ the initiative on Integrated water management – revised lists of surface and groundwater pollutants (Q3 2021)
☑the (A2.1) Revision of the urban wastewater treatment Directive (Q2 2022).
☑ (A1.4C) Measures to reduce the release of microplastics in the environment (Q4 2022)
☑ the (A1.5) Sustainable use of pesticides – revision of the EU rules (Q1 2022),
☑ the (A2.21) revision of the pharmaceutical legislation (Q4 2022)
However, some clarification are needed as regard the importance of water efficiency particularly in the context of the urban wastewater treatment and industrial emissions directive. Moreover the document does not clarify – despite some positive signals in the public consultation – the risk of inconsistency between the revision of the pharmaceutical legislation and the objectives of the Zero Pollution Action Plan.
To find out more, check the full programme here.Read More
As the STOP-IT project is coming to a finalization this month, all the partners cam together for a digital Final Conference to present their analyses, results and contributions to increase the cyber and physical protection of water critical infrastructure. Their findings are relevant foundations to launch an EU Water ISAC.
The event invited speakers from EC agencies to discuss the NIS-2 Directive and enhance the resilience of critical entities, and about water security plans and how to implement them. Water organizations shared their experiences related to how water companies can prepare and be ready for the NIS-2 Directive and there will be a roundtable discussion on the challenges and lessons learnt.
The STOP-IT Partners had a moment of celebrations for the great achievements and for reflection about the entire experience over the last 4 years together. If you want to know more, please read the full press release here.