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
The European Green Week 2021 is coming up next month and Water Europe projects and ambassadors are organising several exciting activities. This year’s conference is dedicated to the ‘zero pollution ambition’. Pollution affects everybody – through the air we breathe, the water we drink or the land we grow our food on. It is the largest environmental cause of multiple mental and physical diseases. But pollution can be prevented. The EU Action Plan toward a Zero Pollution Ambition, expected for May 2021, is a key initiative under the Green Deal for water-smart management (WE position available here). In this context, check out the following events coming up:
– HYDROUSA webinar, as part of the EU Green Week virtual exhibition, 6th of May at 10.30. HERE
– ZERO BRINE, Reducing pollution from industrial wastewater, 26 May- 10am. HERE
– Online Seminar on ‘Synergies between zero-pollution and resource recovery targets in urban water cycle’, 28 May ΗERE
Same time, the European Junior Water Programme is going to share the results of its Zero Water Pollution campaign during the ‘Making Waves: Young People’s Views on Water Pollution’ session organized by EJWP and the European Commission DG Environment in the EU Green Week 2021. You can still share your ideas and help achieve Zero Water Pollution. More info here.
To learn more about the EU Green Week 2021, please click here.Read More
A new HYDROUSA webinar series began focusing on the Mediterranean regions in the project’s focus. Following the two first webinars around HYDROUSA applications in Mykonos and Tinos, the water journey continues to Lesvos and the circular innovative solutions applied on the island.
On Thursday, 6th of May at 10.30 EET (+2 GMT) the webinar will explore further its project’s applications, innovations and circular economy practices, with the prototypes on the island of Lesvos in focus. The webinar is part of the EU Green Week 2021.
Representatives of the project coordinator National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) along with key actors from the Municipality of Western Lesvos, the Water Utility of Lesvos and the University of the Aegean, and other technological partners will contribute to the project’s vision, actions and the technology innovations with the moderation of Impact Hub Athens.
To register for the webinar, please click here.Read More
Have your say for the UWWTD consultation from 28 April 2021- 21 July 2021. Making sure that urban wastewater is clean and safe is vital for protecting public health and the environment. This key part of EU water policy is covered by the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.
This initiative will revise the Directive after a recent evaluation of it identified certain shortcomings and new societal needs that must be addressed. Check the full consultation and leave your feedback here.
Study reveals 50 most promising bio-based innovations that will benefit environment and healthy living
The new EU-funded study Life and biological sciences and technologies as engines for bio-based innovation present the 50 most significant bio-based innovations for the next 5-20 years. These innovations cover crosscutting technologies and approaches with many different applications, as well as innovation areas or solutions to challenges. The study provides also strategic knowledge for policymakers, innovation stakeholders and society.
Life and biological sciences and technologies are enablers for bio-based innovations that use natural resources sustainably. These innovations play an important role in a number of business sectors, like agricultural and fisheries or the chemical and manufacturing industry. they have several applications such as sustainable packaging, environmental protection, healthy eating.
The selected 50 bio-based innovations cover plant, marine, environmental and industrial biotechnology. One of them comes from agriculture and will provide bio-based alternatives to pesticide and fertilizers ensuring high crops yields and avoiding groundwater and food contamination.Read More
In the context of the Water Knowledge Europe 2021 Spring Edition event held digitally last month, we saw the exclusive launch of the beta version of the Marketplace, an innovative digital-based tool, developed within the H2020-funded NextGen project.
During the Water Market Europe session, the beta version of this interactive platform was released as an online, flexible and adaptable system to search or share information about innovative and transformational circular economy solutions and systems that challenge embedded thinking and practices around resource use in the water sector. The platform consists of three main parts: A Marketplace, a Technology Evidence Base and a Toolkit, all provided through a unified web-based environment.
Prof. Christos Makropoulos from NTUA and KWR commented that “Every economy needs a marketplace to function and the emerging circular economy is no different. The marketplace for water in the circular economy will allow solution providers and problem owners to meet digitally and to exchange technologies, services and best practices building up to a truly circular economy with water at its centre”.
With a wide variety of featured technologies, the Marketplace can enhance our ability to recover, refine, reuse, repurpose, capture value from, and extend the use-life of, an ever-increasing range of resources and products to develop the necessary approaches, tools and partnerships for efficiently addressing different water-related issues.
To finetune the MarketPlace,a short survey has been prepared here. We encourage to share your feedback with us- It will only take a few minutes of your time.
For more information, please contact Andrea Rubini.Read More
The EC just published a new guidance under the COM 2018 Action Plan on Environmental Compliance Assurance, namely the Vade Mecum on environmental compliance assurance in rural areas.
The purpose of the Vade Mecum is to see out good practised on how national authorities should interact with farmers and land managers in order to ensure compliance with DG ENV legislation, particularly on water and nature.
It explains approaches to preventing, detecting and responding to compliance failures, and shows how agricultural practices can be reconciled with environmental obligations. This Vade Mecum can highly contribute to delivering European Green Deal objectives, particularly the Biodiversity strategy, as it focuses on the mechanisms for overseeing delivery on the ground in Member States.
The Vade Mecum supports the role of public authorities in ensuring that farmers and other rural land-managers comply with their environmental obligations. This role involves public authorities taking combinations of three different kinds of action.
One kind focuses on monitoring compliance and identifying and understanding compliance failures. A second involves responding to compliance failures – through the application of sanctions, for instance. This is sometimes referred to as ‘enforcement’. The third kind involves authorities promoting compliance – in other words, helping land-managers to comply. The umbrella term for all three kinds of action is ‘environmental compliance assurance’.
The Vade Mecum was prepared in close collaboration with the Environmental Compliance and Governance Forum, in particular with the support of IMPEL (the European network of environmental inspectors) and NEPA (the EU network of the environmental agencies). DG ENV also prepared a summary guide with high visual content to provide an “easier read.” In order to reach the practitioners in the Member States, both the Vade Mecum and the summary document were translated into the different MS languages and published online.