SMARTEN is an Erasmus+ project that supports current efforts towards digital transition and digital readiness, mainly in higher education and trainings. The two-year project focuses on water as a vital component of life and development, that benefits from informed management of resources and related information. Improvements are seen through promoting an educational digital environment of equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as strengthening the strategic and virtual cooperation between higher education institutions and business partners in the European water sector.
Now more than a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, people depended increasingly on virtual platforms for business and social interaction. Such new norms have pressured an acceleration of efforts in the EU towards digital transition and digital readiness. These transitions cover numerous sectors, including water education.
SMARTEN is a collaboration of the following partners: Norges Milio-og Biovitenskaplige Universitet (Norway – coordinator), Univerzitet U Nisu (Serbia), Panepistimio Thessalias (Greece) and H2O-People / European Junior Water Programme (The Netherlands), and Water Europe as associated partner.
This project proposes innovative practices based on serious games in education, while addressing the subject-specific of water in line with European environmental and climate goals. The serious games concept has proved its efficiency in the educational sector, mainly in the engineering domain.
SMARTEN aims to impact the higher education on water:
✔ Leading to a better use of digital technology, not only in teaching and learning of water subjects, but also in improving education through better data analysis and foresight
✔ Developing skills and competencies necessary to support the digitalization of water education
✔ Supporting a growing generation of water professionals who are leading the digital transformation of the water sector
On the 18th of March 2021, the project was publicly launched during the Water Knowledge Europe 2021 Spring Edition event to connect the project not only with education, also with the industry. Stay tuned to many future activities by SMARTEN!Read More
Climate change and economic or population growth – those factors create challenges to the water sector in coastal areas and beyond. Water scarcity and increasing water demand result in the overexploitation of resources, quality deterioration and regional imbalances in the availability of water resources.
To tackle these challenges, the European research project ‘building a water-smart society and economy’, short B-WaterSmart, develops and demonstrates smart technologies and circular economy approaches for the water sector. The research in the project is based on the work of six demonstration sites, called Living Labs, all across Europe. Together with research partners and local technology providers they develop and test water-smart management solutions and technologies.
🟩 The Living Lab from Alicante in Spain currently evaluates technologies for reverse osmosis brines valorisation at lab-scale. They also plan demonstration units, have first meetings for the identification of co-digestion opportunities in the territory and work on the conceptualization of a digital tool to boost water reuse.
🟩 The Living Lab in Bodo, Norway focuses on zero emission urban development and improved management of the wastewater stream and air quality.
🟩 East Frisia in Germany is building a pilot plant for the reuse of process water in the dairy industry. Furthermore, digital tools for short term water demand and a regional water allocation tool are conceptualized.
🟩 The Flanders Living Lab in Belgium is designing two demonstration sites. One is about stormwater management and the use of a storage water buffer basin for agriculture. The other one is about potential effluent reuse, including water quality and purification requirements.
🟩 Lisbon in Portugal is preparing pilot plants for water reclamation for beer production, non-potable urban water reuse including a risk assessment for health and groundwater, and water-energy certificates for buildings and neighbourhoods. Lisbon also started seminars to integrate the B-WaterSmart work in the partner’s long term strategies/activities and foster synergies between them.
🟩The Living Lab Venice in Italy is mainly working on the pilot plants for industrial water reuse from wastewater treatment plant effluent and nutrient recovery via two stripping processes and anaerobic co-digestion.
In order to implement those solutions strongly in the practice of the water sector, technical and digital solutions, as well as new business models, are jointly developed by all project partners. The overall aim is to accelerate the transformation to water-smart economies and societies in coastal Europe and beyond by reducing the use of freshwater resources, improving the recovery and reuse of resources, and increase water use efficiency.Read More
A New Industrial Emissions Directive: Mastering water efficiency and reuse challenges New Water Europe Position Paper
On the 23rd of March, the European Commission closed its public consultation on the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive. Water Europe is glad to contribute to this discussion with the release of its new position paper ‘A New Industrial Emissions Directive: Mastering water efficiency and reuse challenges’.
The Industrial Emission Directive has proven its added value with the industrial emissions being decreased over the past decade in Europe. However, it is now time to focus on pollution reduction to water and soil and improve water efficiency. Therefore, Water Europe welcomes the initiative of the European Commission to update this directive which will contribute to securing European competitiveness, improving our environmental legacy for future generations and strengthening European strategic autonomy.
In this context and in order to achieve a Water-Smart Society, Water Europe suggests the following objectives:
- Leveraging water-related standards in each BREF
- Setting-up horizontal BREF on water efficiency
- Including mandatory systems assessment for water usage
- Incentivizing industrial water efficiency, cascading and reuse water through subsidies
- Deploying digital water solutions for water-energy efficiencies and the decarbonization of European industry
Examples of Water-Smart practices for a New Industrial Emissions Directive are already available:
- The ZeroBrine project– which aims to prove that minerals, such as magnesium and clean water, can be recovered from industrial processes to then be reused in other industries – intends to contribute to the improvement of the LVIC-S BREF (Large volume inorganic chemicals – solids and other industry), the TXT BREF (Textile Industry) and the WT BREF (Waste Treatment).
- The Rewatch project – which aims at decreasing the environmental footprint of the petrochemical industry – addresses the REF BREF (Refining of Mineral Oil and Gas) and the CWW BREF (Common Wastewater and Waste Gas Treatment/management Systems in the chemical sector).
In addition, the two projects consider the option of a horizontal BREF on water efficiency.
For more information please download the full position paper here.Read More
After your election as the Vice-President for Innovation, could you tell us a few words on how you see this new role?
In the new composition, the Board has a division of tasks between a number of vice presidents. I see it as my task to carry out my activities mainly in synergy with the Vice Presidents of Advocacy and RTD. Our VP Advocacy focuses mainly on policy making and legislation, and the VP RTD on everything that takes place in the world of research and development. My role is to work with our members on the implementation of what we want, a water-smart policy and what we can technically achieve. Of course, we have to think carefully about how we are going to do that. We have decided to develop the instrument of a WELL; a Water Europe Living Lab. Together with our top-down approach to policy and legislation, it should help to shape bottom up a Water-Smart society together with the citizens of Europe. We will try to do this in Europe, together with parties outside Europe and with the use of digital means to get as close as possible to the citizens of Europe.
What are your Water Europe priorities and what activities you plan for their implementation?
My priorities concern three aspects. In the first place, I want to dedicate myself to developing the WELL as an instrument for the successful implementation of innovative water technologies. A WELL can serve as a practical example for a Water-Smart Society and help to get water even higher on the political agenda. In addition, a WELL could profile our members as standard bearers of a Water-Smart Europe. We want to do this with a number of innovative partners in Europe who are involved in water-smart solutions in cities, rural areas or in the field of industrial symbiosis. We also want to try to use the instrument when entering into relationships with countries or regions outside Europe. With our so-called International Water Dialogue, the IWD, we opt for neighboring regions such as North Africa, commercially important markets and are looking for examples in which the SDGs of the UN have been exemplified. Finally, we thought it would be a good idea to start shaping these priorities from a digital perspective.
How can the Water-Oriented Living Labs contribute to the achievement of the Water-Smart Society?
There is still a gap between what we know and can technically do on the one hand and what we achieve in society. This has everything to do with the time it takes to convert policy into practical measures and bringing technical innovations to the market. Water Europe is committed to properly informing policy-makers about what is technically possible to use water sensibly. That is the way we point to a Water-Smart society. The knowledge and expertise that our members bring to this dialogue are of crucial importance; show that a Water-smart society is feasible. At the same time, we want to show policymakers that the road to realization does not have to be long. We want to demonstrate this with a number of WELL initiatives in rural areas, the urban environment and through examples of industrial symbiosis. To this end, we are going to look for parties that want to team up with Water Europe for a number of years with that aim. With this, we want to develop a WELL as a WE brand that stands for a successful, bottom-up implementation of innovative water technology.
What are the International Water Dialogues and how do you foresee the European water sector strengthening its relationship and collaboration with other strategic regions?
We can be proud of what Europe is doing in the field of water. But sharing that knowledge with the rest of the world, both in terms of policy, but especially also in the technological field, should be even better. This is about supporting our water technology companies, but also about sharing the successes from practice.
With the IWDs, we aim to share the way in which the implementation of successful water technology takes place in a WELL. We want to promote partnerships between groups of institutions and individuals that work together for a Water-Smart society. This can only succeed if we ensure that a WELL can also form a business case for our members. After all, participating in a WELL activity must be affordable at the very least. I think that the Horizon Europe programme can make it attractive for our members to contribute to shaping a WELL. I would therefore like to make sure that WELLS become a success factor in the upcoming Horizon Europe programme.
For those who do not yet know the city, could you please introduce Mechelen?
With 87.000 inhabitants, Mechelen is one of the 13 large Flemish cities and is a regional hub for education, culture, shopping, jobs etc. Mechelen is one of the 5 art cities in Flanders and has a lot of historical patrimony. The more than 300 historical buildings and 3 UNESCO heritage sites attract a lot of tourists. The city has strong urban characteristics and a vivid city centre but also a rural hinterland. Its central and accessible position, but also its compact size makes it attractive for entrepreneurship and an ideal testbed for innovation.
Why does a mid-sized city become member of Water Europe?
Mechelen has a long history as a central city in Northern Europe. The city has evolved around the river Dyle and was built on wetlands. Water management has always been a preoccupation since the first pile dwellings in the 5th century BC. The city faced a strong revival in the last decade, leading to a growing economy, population and popularity. This was partially due to major investments by the city in the last decade. But at the same time in the last decade, cities have also gained a stronger responsibility in climate policy. The climate plan of Mechelen is the driver for a better future in domains such as mobility, green and blue infrastructure, agriculture, energy efficiency, the production of renewable energy and water management.
Could you please tell us about the specific challenges the city faces?
Climate change creates challenges and opportunities for Mechelen. In an urban context, a high degree of pavement is no surprise. In Mechelen we see that almost 24% of the public domain is paved, remarkably high compared to the Flemish average (which is around 14%). Action is needed and Mechelen has taken strong initiatives, as climate change is causing us to see the increasing intensity of rain showers on the one hand and a growing number of dry periods on the other. It is therefore important to invest as much as possible on measures that combat drought and avoid flooding.
To this end, the City of Mechelen has had a rainwater plan drawn up for its entire territory. In this plan a vision is developed to determine the most suitable measure for each location: customised solutions are necessary. After all, the historic city center with many shops and narrow streets requires a different approach than the paved industrial areas with wide roads and parking options. The ideal solution in the urbanized residential areas of Mechelen are different from our rural hinterland with large green spaces and a focus on agricultural activities.
The focus on depavement is crucial here. Both in the public domain and in the private domain, plans are being made to allow rainwater to infiltrate as much as possible, as this ensures that groundwater is replenished as much as possible. Innovative projects also make it possible to store rainwater locally and aim at (collectively) reusing it as high-quality drinking water or pumping up groundwater for sub-irrigation in agriculture. In the reconstruction of neighbourhoods and streets, efforts will also be made to disconnect rainwater from the sewerage system. Where possible, the rainwater is infiltrated underground, but preferably via multifunctional aboveground facilities. Wadis in parks are set up as play and clambering zones, an infiltration channel is provided with filtering plants, which promotes biodiversity.
In Ragheno, an new district of Mechelen, major developments are foreseen over the next 20 to 30 years. A smart water and energy concept is currently being developed to cope with the major challenges facing this district. Therefore, Mechelen is exploring the potential of digital twin on water and energy. In this, the city is selected for guidance from the Intelligent City Challenge initiative of the European Commission. The city strongly believes in the strengths of the digital transformation and the value of smart data to develop future-proofed solutions.
What do you expect from the network water Europe?
Water Europe has already given us knowledge on best practices and state of the art projects. We hope to build up good contacts with other partners. We also want to set up cooperation in European projects to develop pilots that can be building blocks of our long-term action plan.Read More
On March 25 the European Commission published guidelines clarifying the scope of the term ‘environmental damage’ in the Directive on environmental liability. These guidelines will help Member States to better assess whether damage to water, land and protected species and natural habitats must be prevented or restored by explaining the scope of each of these categories in detail.
In addition, they will offer greater legal clarity and harmonisation of its interpretation and application. These guidelines will support the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, and thus the preservation of water quality.
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “Nature is under severe pressure from human activity and pollution, and halting the loss of biodiversity is a huge challenge for us all. These new guidelines will help towards achieving the objectives of our Biodiversity Strategy and our upcoming Zero Pollution Action Plan by making it clearer when actors are liable for environmental damage that they cause”.
The next steps to follow foreseen these guidelines as part of a wider effort by the Commission to strengthen implementation of the Directive on environmental liability, and more generally to strengthen how Member States follow up problems related to environmental harm and non-compliance with EU environmental legislation (including the Water Framework Directive). The Commission will thus work with the Member States and stakeholders to ensure that the guidelines are used correctly in the implementation of the Directive.Read More
The European Commission has recently published the Call for Proposals of the Partnership for sustainable cities with te objective to promote integrated urban development through partnerships built among local authorities of the EU Member States and of partner countries.
This call represents a good contribution amid the new EU political priorities, promoting good governance, “Green Deal”, growth, job creation and digitalisation. More specifically, it aims at strengthening urban governance, ensuring social inclusiveness of cities, improving resilience and greening of cities and improving. prosperity and innovation in cities. The guidelines of the call can be found on the EuropeAid website.
List of activities that may be financed includes: Pilot projects on basic services and network infrastructures, i.e. water, sanitation, waste (including recycling), energy (including efficiency) and public transport, Improving the quality of air in the cities and management of water and solid waste, Pilot projects to support the design and implementation of new environmental and climate-resilient local public policies in line with the EU green deal.
The deadline for the submission of concept notes is 23/04/2021 at 16:00 (Brussels time). Questions shall be redirected to email@example.com, no later than 21 days before the deadline.Read More
MEP Water Group Online Event: Valuing water – The United Nations World Water Development Report 2021
The 2021 World Water Development Report titled “Valuing Water” assesses the current status of and challenges to the valuation of water across differing sectors and perspectives and identifies ways in which valuation can be promoted as a tool help achieve sustainability. Check the full agenda and register for the event here.Read More
Exclusive Interview with João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Portuguese Minister for Environment and Climate Action
The Portuguese Presidency’s motto is ‘For a fair, green and digital recovery’. How are you going to achieve this? What are your main priorities and what is the role of water in realising them?
The Portuguese presidency will make all the effort to operationalize the multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2021-2027, to allow the implementation of the innovative set of tools that will make Europe’s recovery and resilience possible. The recovery must be sustainable and innovative. To this end, we will prioritize the European Green Deal implementation and the commitments to reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change, and strengthening the energy transition, sustainable mobility, and the blue (ocean) economy.
The Portuguese presidency will work to accelerate the technological transition and promote European leadership in the digital economy and in the area of data and connectivity based on ethical values.
To achieve the Water-Smart Society, a society in which the true value of water is recognised and realised, we need a cross-sectoral approach. How do you see the Portuguese Presidency contributing to this?
Water is a vital, scarce, strategic and structuring resource, so it is essential that its use is guided by principles of sustainability and efficiency. Water efficiency has the central purpose of optimizing the consumption of the water resource, ensuring that with the use of the smallest amount possible, it is possible to carry out the task or process, effectively produce the good or provide the service.
Water management activity should focus on ensuring quality and water availability, promoting sustained economic growth, making cities more resilient, promoting sustainable use of ecosystems and ensuring adaptation to climate change.
We are aware of the need for realism and moderation in the face of the impact of the pandemic by COVID‑19. But the expectations around Next Generation Europe and the next Framework Programme with the increased allocation of funds for the Green New Deal objectives are high.
We need to be effective in the use of these resources. We need to ensure effectiveness in physical accessibility, quality, continuity, resilience and security (e.g. adaptation to climate change, droughts, floods and other challenges) and affordability and equity of water services. We need to ensure the efficiency of these services: because they must ensure organisational efficiency of the sector with economies of scale, range and process, organisational, water, energy and in the use of financial resources of the services. We have to ensure sustainability: economically and financially, the infrastructural sustainability of the services and asset management, the safe use of the services’ natural resources, the adequacy and renewal of the services’ human capital and its skills, and the modernisation, innovation and digital transition of the services. And these objectives converge for the circular vision of the water sector, because it is also through them that we will be able to enhance the environment and the territory, ensuring adequate protection, efficient use of water, diversification of sources, energy transition and decarbonisation, enhance the economy, ensuring synergies and symbioses between different sectors (agriculture, industry, tourism), with business development in the internal and external market and systemic innovation of services and products, enhance society, not only through the professionals who operate in it and the perception of their value by society, but also through the responsibility of each entity, through transparency.
The Portuguese EU Presidency has placed Climate Change action at the centre of this semester´s discussions as the EGD policy and regulatory packages are well underway. The European climate law is already at trialogue-level negotiations, and the Commission presented in February the New EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate. Climate change adaptation will feature in several Presidency initiatives, such as a High-Level conference in February, and discussions at the EU Environmental Council, including the objective of adopting council conclusions at the June Environmental Council. In addition, the Informal meeting of Environmental ministers in April will be dedicated to adaptation, focusing on water challenges in the context of climate adaptation.
Following the most successful, German-led water and adaptation conference in late 2020 and the release of the New EU Adaptation Strategy, water management, and climate adaptation are increasingly seen as mutually interconnected and requiring renewed focus in EU – and national – policymaking. Indeed, water management clearly needs to improve in the EU through increased investment in water use efficiency, in treatment, reuse and/ or recirculation solutions, as well as in the restoration of ecosystems and natural habitats. Climate change impacts, including extreme weather events, will only exacerbate the need to improve water management, especially given the fact that water scarcity and even drought are projected to affect a growing number of member states in the future.
Across Europe, spatial and water management (and all its implications in other sectors, be it biodiversity, forestry, health, etc.) are central to climate adaptation. We also believe that adaptation fits very well with the concept of nature-based solutions.
Areas that deserve our attention are EU’s vulnerability to water scarcity and drought; water efficiency and management in sustainable buildings and water pricing and financing.
In the last twenty years, droughts have occurred with an increased frequency and duration in several parts of Europe and water scarcity is also increasing across the European continent, i.e. the long-term imbalance resulting from water demand exceeding available water resources is no longer uncommon and limited to the Southern Member States. Consequently, Member States that typically have less water severe conditions are now concerned with the declining water table levels in some of their groundwater resources. As it was seen in the recent Germany and trio EU presidencies conference, increasing pressure on water resources cannot only be addressed with incremental adaptation of water management. In many locations and sectors – such as agriculture – it will need a more systemic and transformational change in the way water is managed. Water planning requires a cooperation and involvement of key sectors, namely those that abstract, consume and discharge water (both surface and ground water). So, articulation between sectoral strategies, agriculture, energy, transport and the protection of water resources is determinant to have a sustainable water management and to respect the no-harm principle. The main challenge of decreasing water availability lies in enhancing resilience to climate change through the most accurate modeling, that will lead to the best forecast and preparedness and planning – which means the need for a more informed water planning and management on climate risks. The water framework directive (WFD) has as one of its purposes contributing to floods and droughts mitigation. Water scarcity and drought management plans are not even widespread despite their increased and manifest need in many countries and regions. Most frequent measures adopted in large parts of Europe are “reactive” or “preventive” measures. “Adaptive” measures are still largely absent, although they assist an ecosystem to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damages, to seize opportunities and/or to cope with the consequences. It is therefore important to develop a common implementation to face droughts and scarcity in the context of climate change, which in the future ensures resilience to climate change in the future and allows the achievement of the WFD objectives.
There are relevant issues to be addressed, namely to increase coherence and ambition across relevant EU policies, strategies, and initiatives that affect climate-resilient water management and offer opportunities for synergies, including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), the Urban Agenda for the EU, the Forest Strategy and the initiatives announced in the European Green Deal, in particular, the new EU Adaptation Strategy, but also the Biodiversity Strategy, the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Renovation Wave Strategy and the Circular Economy Action Plan.
Europe spatial planning and water management and all its implications in biodiversity, forestry, health, economics sectors, among others are central to climate change adaptation.
In what concerns water efficiency and management in sustainable buildings, we need to address issues like sustainable approaches to help prevent global warming and climate change due to the significant building’s sector energy consumption, that leads to a high amount of greenhouse gases emissions; to encourage consumers and the construction business sector to adopt water efficiency solutions and measures, such as the use of alternative water sources (e.g. rainwater, greywater) and leak detection and communication; to promote the use of water-saving technologies and products, which represent technically effective, economically affordable and flexible options; to implement a qualification framework and certification scheme at the European level, for training and skills upgrading of construction and green professionals on water efficiency and water-energy nexus for building construction and retrofitting.
Regarding water pricing and financing, we must work to provide additional guidance and good-practice examples of innovative water allocation mechanisms, to support Member States in their efforts to change or develop rules for water allocation and to implement ecological flows; to establish pricing policies, in accordance with Article 9 of the WFD, to stimulate the efficient use of water; to establish a methodology to implement cost recovery – including the polluter pays principle – consistently across the EU for all water-use activities that have a significant impact on water bodies, including impoundments, abstractions, storage, treatment and distribution of surface waters, and collection, treatment and discharge of wastewater; to promote adaptive solutions with multiple benefits, especially nature-based solutions, through attractive funding opportunities, including grants, tailored loans and investments.
Which actions do you consider necessary for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and how are you going to support the way towards this direction?
In December 2019, the Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive, its associated Directives, and the Floods Directive, conducted by the European Commission, concluded that water legislation is overall fit for purpose, with some room for enhanced effectiveness, namely related to investments, implementation, integrating water into other policies, chemical pollution, administrative simplification and digitalisation.
The Directives have led to a higher level of protection for water bodies and flood risk management than could have been expected without them. The factors identified to contribute to the effectiveness of the Directive was:
- List of priority substances;
- Cross-references to the WFD’s objectives in other EU policies;
- EU funding;
- Non-deterioration principle; and
- Directives’ monitoring requirements.
Despite the success of ongoing improvements to the protection of water bodies and flood risk management, we are far away from the goals defined. In 2015 only 43% of the European water bodies had achieved the good status. Good status depends on the implementation of mitigation measures to address current pressures; the implementation of restoration measures to address pressures from the past, such as hydro-morphological changes and chemical pollution; the full implementation of other EU legislation, such as the Nitrates Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive; the integration of water objectives in other policy areas with a heavy impact on water, such as agriculture, energy or transport.
This has not yet happened with the necessary speed and intensity. Difficulties in financing measures by different countries and, above all, assimilation by sector plans and strategies of the WFD objectives, are the main reasons for having a low percentage of water bodies with good status. We must increase the efforts using the instruments provide by the Green Deal, Circular Economy Action Plan, Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and A Farm to Fork Strategy, and the financial budget associated to the recovery and resilience mechanism.
With the crises of climate change and environmental degradation is now more relevant than ever before to implement the Water Framework Directive, its associated Directives, and Floods Directive. Also, a common implementation to face scarcity and droughts in the context of climate change, which in the future ensures climate resilience and allows the achievement of the WFD objectives, is needed.
The next planning cycle the programmes of measures will have an important role to make a progress towards achieving the environmental objectives by the 2027 for a greater percentage of water bodies. Currently more than half of all European water bodies are under exemptions, the challenges for Member States are more than substantial, and we must have a strategy in order to promote the good status. After 2027, the possibilities for exemptions are reduced, as time extensions under Article 4(4) can only be authorised in cases where all the measures have been put in place but the natural conditions are such that the objectives cannot be achieved by 2027. We will continue to work with the Commission in order to improve implementation of the Directives at the lowest possible cost, e.g. by sharing best practices on cost recovery, reduction of pollutants at source, green infrastructure and others, and also to prepare the future water planning cycles always with the prospect of always improving, by demonstrating that the best available techniques are implemented to improve the state of the water bodies. To this end, it is also essential that sector incentives and plans are based on this concern and objective.
The Portuguese Presidency will contribute to increasing EU-wide implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Floods Directive (FD), and to improve synergies with the marine strategy, the common agricultural policy and other sectoral policies. We will promote an integrated and cross-sectoral approach to cross-border water management, resilient to climate change effects, promoting sustainable water use and improving flood risk management strategies, such as timely and reliable exchange of data and warnings.
The European Green Deal is a major goal for the European Union. What do you consider as the strongest tools of the European Union in its effort to reach this goal?
The European Green Deal goals are transforming the EU’s Economy for a sustainable future. All the work that has been done on the implementation of community directives is the basis for achieving the objectives defined in the Green Deal.
As we’ve seen in the recent Germany and trio EU presidencies conference, increasing pressure on water resources cannot only be addressed with incremental adaptation of water management. In many locations on many themes – such as agriculture – we’ll need more systemic, disruptive and transformational change in the way water is managed.
In our view, it is important to increase coherence and ambition across relevant EU policies, strategies, and initiatives that affect climate-resilient water management and offer opportunities for synergies, including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), the Urban Agenda for the EU, the Forest Strategy or initiatives announced in the European Green Deal, such as e.g. the Biodiversity Strategy and the Circular Economy Action Plan. And to promote appropriate adaptation financing, effective climate services and increased cross-border and international cooperation.
The Portuguese Presidency congratulates the Commission for the efforts put in the development of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, given its recognized high priority in the current context, as a part of the EU’s zero pollution ambition, which is a key commitment of the European Green Deal, and globally welcomes the Commission’s proposals aiming at better protect the citizens and the environment while providing impetus innovation for safe and sustainable chemicals and boosting competitiveness.
We believe that an efficient and challenging implementation of this Strategy will certainly contribute to a toxic-free Environment and intends to make every effort to also contribute to its success.
In this context, we acknowledge the essential role to be played by the Commission in the accomplishment of the objectives and in the promotion of the identified actions as presented in the Strategy, as well as the important contribution of every involved parties, the Member-states and the Industry in the scope of the transition process.
The Portuguese Presidency took over this file as a priority and is fully engaged on the preparation of balanced and concise Council Conclusions to be adopted in March’s Council. These are aimed at expressing the political support and commitments to this ambitious Strategy, and at providing political guidance towards its implementation, as now it’s “Time to deliver: a fair, green and digital recovery”.Read More
‘New Water Europe position paper’ Sewage Sludge Directive: An opportunity to fully exploit the value in water
On the 5th of March, the European Commission will close its public consultation on the evaluation of the Sewage Sludge Directive (SSD). Water Europe is glad to contribute to this discussion with its new position paper “Unlock the potential of the sewage sludge directive through the full exploitation of the value in water for a green and sustainable Europe”.
The SSD has performed well in its objective to encourage the safe use of sludge, while complying with high environmental standards and providing beneficial side effects, such as improving effluent and water quality, soil organic matter and water retention. However, thirty years since its inception, new challenges have arisen that the Directive is not fit to address, namely contaminants of emerging concern, digitalisation and circular economy.
WE welcomes the conclusion of the European Commission to update the SSD aligning it with the Green Deal and the digitalisation of Europe to address today’s challenges. A well-designed revised Directive must be cohesive and coherent with the EU’s current sustainability objectives, and particularly with the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Zero-Pollution, the Pharmaceutical and Farm2Fork strategies. Therefore, WE suggests a holistic management of sewage treatment that achieves the following objectives:
- Fully exploit the value in water beyond agricultural use.
- Digitalisation for efficiency and fast response
- Update the SSD on specific measures to address contaminants of emerging concern
Circularity in sewage sludge management can have multiple benefits especially in the context of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the new EU Soil Strategy. Sewage sludge can indeed be used in agriculture after appropriate treatment. In this respect, WE is currently preparing its response to the public consultation on the new Soil Strategy.
For more information, please download the full position paper here.Read More