According to a JRC study published on May 10 in Nature Climate Change, in the absence of action to limit and adapt to climate change, the impact of droughts on Europe’s economy could reach over €65 billion a year by 2100.
As a share of the total GDP of EU countries and the UK, this is more than double the annual €9 billion costs of droughts today: 0.15% of total GDP, compared to 0.07% today. Most of these impacts can be avoided by reducing carbon emissions to keep global warming well below 2°C by the end of the century, and by increasing the resilience of drought-sensitive sectors.
Climate change will cause more frequent and intense droughts in southern and western parts of Europe. This will lead to higher damages to economic sectors that depend on water availability, like agriculture, energy production and public water supply. The researchers developed a new method of drought modelling to quantify these potential impacts across Europe’s regions. They found the highest increases in drought losses in southern and western parts of Europe, where drought conditions at 4°C could reduce regional agriculture economic output by 10%. With no action, the economic costs as a share of GDP by 2100 could reach 0.3% in Romania and 0.24% in Bulgaria, the two countries with the highest projected losses in the EU. The impacts on Europe’s countries could be reduced by 40%-60% with appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures.
Action to lessen the impact of droughts
The study’s findings can help in targeting regional EU investments to address the unequal burden of drought impacts and the differences in adaptation capacities. The study recommends targeting adaptation measures in drought-sensitive regions and sectors, such as:
♦ increase the natural retention capacity of river basins, creating the conditions for storage
♦ water conservation and water-saving practices;
♦ improve water-use efficiency in power production and industry;
♦ development of stress-resistant crops to enhance yield stability under water-shortage conditions
To learn more please visit the official website.Read More
The MEP Water Group is organising a new webinar under the theme ‘Energy Neutrality in Water Management: A Water-Smart Objective’ with the participation of the Commissioner Simson, on the 31st of May from 15:00 to 16:30. In the context of the Green Deal and the need to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution, the speakers will exchange on the opportunity of energy neutrality for water management and the smart solutions that the sector can deploy.
Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for the Environment will deliver a keynote speech on the ‘EU policy related to the Water-Energy Nexus’, followed by a great panel discussion moderated by Pernille Weiss, Member of the European Parliament (EPP) and Chairman of the MEP Water Group.
The speakers agenda is composed by:
🔹Jonas Fredsted Villadsen, Head of EU Public Affairs, Grundfos
🔹Prof. Ewan McAdam, Cranfield University
🔹Alexis de Kerchove, Director, Vertical Markets, Water Infrastructure & Europe Commercial Team, Xylem
🔹EDF Representative (TBC)
To register for the event, please click here.Read More
The EU has created a classification system (‘taxonomy’) for environmentally sustainable economic activities, including investments. This new initiative will require large listed companies, banks and insurance companies to publish information on how, and to what extent, their activities align with those considered environmentally sustainable in the EU taxonomy. This will enable investors to make informed choices and will encourage private investment in sustainable activities.
The Commission would like to hear your views. This draft act is open for feedback for 3 weeks. Feedback will be taken into account for finalising this initiative. Feedback received will be published on this site and therefore must adhere to the feedback rules. Give your feedback here.
Feedback period: 7 May – 2 June.Read More
The European Commission recently published the final report showing how to set up and implement carbon farming in the EU. The study “Technical Guidance Handbook – setting up and implementing result-based carbon farming mechanisms in the EU”, carried out from 2018 to 2020, explored key issues, challenges, trade-offs and design options to develop carbon farming.
Carbon farming is a name for a variety of agricultural methods aimed at sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil and in crop roots, wood and leaves. The study reviewed existing schemes that reward climate-related benefits in five promising areas: peatland restoration and rewetting; agroforestry; maintaining and enhancing soil organic carbon (SOC) on mineral soils; managing SOC on grasslands; and livestock farm carbon audit. It also explored how a widespread adoption of carbon farming can be triggered in the EU.
The study concludes that result-based carbon farming can contribute significantly in the EU’s efforts to tackle climate change, bringing benefits in terms of carbon sequestration and storage and other co-benefits, such as increased biodiversity and preservation of eco-systems (eg water quality and biodiversity).
Nature-based solutions that remove carbon from the atmosphere can help the EU achieve climate neutrality and should therefore be rewarded. Therefore, as announced in the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission will promote carbon farming as a new green business model that creates a new source of income for actors in the bioeconomy, based on the climate benefits they provide. The Commission plans to publish a Communication setting out an action plan for both initiatives by the end of 2021.
Carbon farming can be promoted via EU and national policies and private initiatives. This new type of financial support will create a new source of income for land managers. Member States will be able to accelerate the roll-out of carbon farming practices in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), for instance via eco-schemes or rural development support, and through State aid. The Commission is furthermore organising a workshop on 25 May to help Member States design carbon farming schemes in their CAP Strategic Plans. The initiative is planned to be launched by the end of 2021.Read More
Water Europe welcomes the updated EU industrial strategy released on the 5th of May, responding to the COVID-19 crisis and the twin green and digital transition.
The COVID-19 crisis has made evident that the European Union and its member states are not well prepared for cross-boundary and cross sectoral crises (see WE position). However, we regret that in this strategy water is taken for granted and no supporting measures to the National Resource Recovery Plans are included. Globally, 78% of jobs and 90% of the economy depend on enough water availability.
We therefore, hope that the European Commission will rectify this through the revision of the Industrial Emissions Directive (see WE position) and other water-related legislation under revision. European industry consumes 30% of our water consumption, for 20% of our economic activities, employing 35 million people and accounting for 80% goods exports.
Read more for the updated EU industrial strategy.Read More
Countries, where natural resources, such as agricultural land and water become scarce or degraded, tend to be more conflict-prone, a new IUCN report finds. The report concludes that conserving and sustainably managing natural resources could help increase the chances of building and preserving peace, and recommends policy options to address links between nature and conflict.
The report, “Nature in a Globalised World: Conflict and Conservation”, examines how the environment impacts armed conflict, and how conflicts in turn affect the natural world and those working to conserve it. It is the first in IUCN’s Nature in a globalised world report series, and draws from novel analyses and synthesis of existing literature. The report finds that the degradation of nature is associated with increased risk of conflict.
The authors analysed how armed conflict events over the last 30 years are related to the availability and productivity of arable land, the prevalence of drought, and the percentage of a country’s rural population as a measure of its dependence on nature. They found that countries are more conflict-prone when less agricultural land is available or if it is less productive; when they are more dependent on natural resources; or when drought events are frequent. In turn, the armed conflict has numerous negative effects on nature, according to the report. These include the direct killing of wildlife for food or trade, degradation of ecosystems as both a tactic and a consequence of war, and the disruption of conservation.
“Conservation, sustainable and equitable management of nature plays an important role in preventing conflict and in rebuilding peace” said Kristen Walker, Chair of IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy.
The report recommends a series of policy options that decision-makers in conservation, peace-building and military organisations can implement to mitigate and prevent armed conflict. They include strengthening natural resource governance through measures like inclusive decision-making; improving accountability and transparency; and recognising the rights of indigenous peoples and of women. The authors recommend the establishment of explicit protections for protected area staff, environmental defenders, and other conservationists, and sanctions against those who commit environmental war crimes.Read More
How do you feel about your new role as Water Europe’s Vice-President for Advocacy?
I am deeply humbled and so energised by the trust and confidence that has been placed in me. Water Europe has strongly evolved over the last few years and gained many new members which shows that water issues are getting increasing tractions at European level. This is a very positive signal as water has often been overlooked in the policy debate in the past. Water Europe has laid out a clear vision aiming to achieve a water-smart society and I will do my upmost to not only promote this vision but drive its realisation. EU policy can help make recognise the true value of water and ensure that available water resources are properly managed. There will be a 56% deficit in water supply relative to demand by 2030 so water issue needs to be addressed with the same sense of urgency that of on climate change. The Green Deal offers a great opportunity to advocate for sustainable water use across sectors including cities, industries, and farmers. On a personal note, the water Europe team and members are so much fun that it makes this even more special.
What are your priorities and what activities do you plan for their implementation?
I would say our top priorities are focused on water efficiency, water reuse, the water-energy / climate nexus, and the digitalisation of water. All highly interesting topics but also quite technical so it’s important we manage to convey clear messages which can be easily understood by policymakers. In terms of activities, we will continue to foster discussions on these issues internally and maintain a high level of engagement and inclusiveness with members of all colleges. We will also continue our external outreach with policymakers and other stakeholders through meetings, workshops, and webinars to ensure Water Europe’s voice is heard.
What is the best way to make an impact on EU legislation and what are, in your view, the most crucial dossiers for this period?
To be impactful in Brussels, you need to have a compelling story to share to policymakers backed up with solid facts and case studies and I believe Water Europe has a very good story to tell. Regarding the dossiers, I think the Industrial Emissions Directive which is expected to be reviewed by the end of this year gives us a unique chance to promote a smarter use of water resources by the 50,000 industrial sites currently covered by the Directive across Europe. Industry must do its part by improving water efficiency in their industrial processes and reusing water whenever possible.
Another important dossier is of course the revision of the 30-year-old Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. The European Commission is expected to table a proposal by early 2022 to update the requirements so they better address today’s challenges like climate change or micropollutants. The new Directive will tackle issues including the energy use of wastewater treatment plants, the presence of microplastics in water, storm water overflows and untreated surface runoff which have been identified as sources of pollution. The revision of the Sewage Sludge Directive which is highly interlinked with the UWWTD will also contribute to better apply the principles of the circular economy. There will be, I am sure, many interesting discussions on these files, and I believe Water Europe is well positioned to engage and drive the necessary change.
How do you believe we can sharpen water’s presence within the Green Deal, making it more central and visible?
As mentioned, water issues have been overlooked in the past, but the Green Deal is providing a historic opportunity to tackle them across all EU policies through an integrated approach and stop thinking in silos. In particular, the Zero Pollution Action Plan that the European Commission will adopt soon, is paramount as a comprehensive approach for water pollution management. Water is used everywhere and therefore should be treated as such by EU legislation. In this context, Water Europe has an important role to play in building momentum, raising awareness, educating policymakers on water issues. Water is embedded in all aspect of the green deal and Water Europe will help bring it to the forefront.Read More
On the 27th of April, the European Commission closed its public consultation on the new EU soil strategy. Water Europe is glad to contribute to this discussion with its new position paper ‘Healthy Soils Strategy: Building on the Water-Soil Nexus for an integrated & Circular Economy’.
While the strategy considers the interdependence between the quality and resilience of soil and the management of water, wastewater, and wetland ecosystems, Water Europe would like to reiterate some recommendations for a truly circular and sustainable soil management:
- Build a comprehensive and water-smart framework for soil management
- Encourage the deployment of digital water solutions for soil monitoring objectives
- Encourage the exploitation of the value in water to reduce soil pollution
- Encourage the deployment of new business models/value networks for soil management
In parallel, during the plenary session of the 28th of April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it calls on the Commission to design a EU-wide common legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of soil. This resolution:
– Stresses the importance of achieving a so-called ‘Water-Smart Society’ to support the restoration and protection of soil|
– Calls on the Commission to encourage the use of the relevant digital tools to monitor the status of water and soil and the effectiveness of policy instruments;
– Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve and speed up efforts to fully exploit the value in water
– Recognizes the co-benefits of wetlands and nature-based solutions
– Calls for dedicated support for research on the positive role that healthy soils play in further reducing diffuse pollution into water
During the debate, the Commissioner Sinkevicius assured that he will take this resolution fully into account and reaffirmed the need for a holistic policy framework on soil.
For more information please download the full position paper here.
The resolution can be seen here.Read More
European Commission, Director General for the Environment
Addressing the Water Europe community cannot be more timely. While Europe grapples with the COVID-crisis, the response to the impact of the pandemics is an opportunity to address the interrelated crisis that affect the state of our waters: climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and depletion of resources. That is why we have to seize the opportunity to deliver the green transition on the ground. For this, we need invest in “green” – and in “blue”. Investments in water sector will also help us to face the pandemics. The Commission will work closely with Member States to put in place a system for wastewater surveillance to track the COVID virus and its variants.
Crisis entails change. Existing order is challenged and solutions need to be found to address the challenges at stake. Water cannot be taken for granted any longer. The European Green Dealput emphasis on the value of fresh water for healthy ecosystems, the risks linked to water pollution for the human being, the need to ensure sustainable water management for the real economy, and also its value for mobility.
The European Green Deal puts the Planet first: through a number of landmark, truly cross-cutting initiatives, engaging national authorities, economic operators, society as a whole, it brings the tools we need to improve the way we build, produce, eat, move and consume. In parallel, the Next Generation EU, with the Recovery and Resilience Facility, provides a one in a generation opportunity to bring in the needed societal changes.
These factors create the momentum to step up the ambition of bringing health back to EU waters.
The water related actions included in the Circular Economy Action Plan, 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, Farm to Fork Strategy and EU Climate Adaptation Strategy provide the necessary contextual framework to move forward. Precisely now the national authorities are planning their measures and investments to achieve good status of our surface and ground waters by 2027 at the latest. These measures need participation, partnership and innovation.
In addition, the Commission will soon adopt the Zero Pollution Action Plan in which it develops a holistic approach to dealing with existing and future pollution, not only for the water sector (meaning for both freshwaters and seas), but also across air and soils, to prevent harm to both health and natural ecosystems.
The Commission services are working on the update of the lists of priority substances and groundwater pollutants. The ongoing reviews of the Bathing Water Directive and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive will help us assess whether new parameters should be monitored. This stepped up vigilance on a larger number of substances is important also in preventing new pandemics, as we have witnessed how much the increased surveillance of, notably, waste-water is key to enhance our collective resilience against viruses and pathogens. Strengthened water quality standards in the new Drinking Water Directive will improve the protection of human health by addressing pollutants of emerging concern, including endocrine disruptors and micro-plastics. Finally, for marine waters, the Commission services started the review the Marine Strategy Framework Directive , and will explore options for improving its implementation and possible amendment, to ensure our seas and oceans are clean, healthy and productive. I take this opportunity to invite you to participate in the consultation activities planned for all these reviews as we value your opinion.
A robust legislation has created the framework for the EU to lead industry, technology, governance and knowledge of water globally. Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and transform, together, Europe into a water-smart society, delivering the solutions the European Green Deal calls for.Read More
Dear Water Europe Family,
I hope this editorial finds you all healthy and in the best spirit, as we are. We are in an excellent mood because we are getting closer to our most important annual event, which is by now official and in full swing. Registrations for our Water Innovation Europe 2021 conference ‘EU Water-Smart Society for a Global Leadership’ happening on 14-18 June 2021, are open. The agenda is almost complete, featuring an important and diverse speaker line up in all the five plenary sessions, this year`s conference will consist of.
As every year, and coinciding with WIE, we will also be welcoming your innovations to be presented and compete in our Water Innovation Awards. This year, despite the pandemia, will be no exception. The applications have started already for all the five categories of our Awards and you will be able to submit your application until the 21st of May.
Side by side with WIE2021 eight exciting side-events have been scheduled, and of course, our Working Groups meetings, will take place. In fact, WIE2021 will mark the end of the 2019-2021 Planning and Reporting Cycle (PRC) of the WE Working Groups and Vision Leadership Teams and a lot of WGs and VLTs are working hard on the finishing touch of their respective White Papers, as well as contributing to other deliverables they had foreseen or planned. The closing of PRC2019-2021 will be the opportunity for the Board to evaluate all achievements done by our very large community over the last two years as well as an opportunity and start for a renewed engagement and work plans that will kick in from this autumn onwards initiating PRC2022-2023.
This month, Water Europe’s advocacy efforts will result in the release of a Water Europe position paper on ‘Healthy Soils Strategy’. The EU’s new “Healthy Soils” Strategy is an opportunity to tackle environmental challenges applying innovative, circular solutions to the issue of soil degradation and to take advantage of the synergies between the different EU frameworks and directives (the European Green Deal but also the Water Framework Directive, the Common Agricultural policy, the Farm-to-Fork strategy, the Biodiversity strategy etc.) While the strategy considers the interdependence between the quality and resilience of soil and the management of water, wastewater, and wetland ecosystems, Water Europe reiterates some recommendations for a truly circular and sustainable soil management. To learn more download our paper.
On May 31st , 2021 the MEP Water Group is going to host the event ‘Energy neutrality in water management, a water-smart objective?’’ with Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy as a keynote speaker addressing the topic ‘EU policy related to the Water-Energy Nexus’ and a panel discussion following with Pernille Weiss, Chairman of the MEP Water Group moderating the discussion. As a strong supporter of the MEP Water Group, Water Europe’s representatives will be contributing to the discussion of the day and the WE community will be able to follow the discussion through live streaming on our social media channels.
I look forward to meeting up with most of you very soon, as well as to the exciting and interesting developments ahead. While we await in anticipation and finalize preparations do not miss out on this month’s guest editorial by Florika Fink-Hooijer, EC’s Director General for the Environment that addresses the Water Europe community in this month’s newsletter.
It would be fantastic news, and a definite start to a new normal, if this year’s edition of WIE could be the last in an only digital format. Some indicators suggest this could be the case. Until we get there and can meet up again in person, stay healthy and think,… water.Read More