David Martin, Water Europe VP for Advocacy talked to us about his role and future plans
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.