Hans Goossens, WE President’s Editorial, January 2023
Dear Water Europe friends,
Let me start by sending you my best wishes for 2023. May the new year bring you much health, beautiful moments in nature, and good relationships with your friends and families. If we think about it, aren’t these also the components of the society Water Europe envisions? In a Water-Smart Society, there is water security, our health and wellbeing are safeguarded, we have a resilient water system in harmony with nature and an inclusive water governance where all relevant actors are involved.
As it usually happens, the first month of the new year is filled with good intentions. During this winter, though, we came to realise, once again, that intentions are not enough when alarming signs are all around us. Only the news of extreme cold weather with temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius in the USA clearly shows that our agenda is crucial in shifting from a fossil fuel based linear consumption economy to a sustainable circular model. This is why we eagerly anticipate the UN 2023 Water conference in March, where circular economy will be at the centre of the agenda. This is a good stage to unite with our allies and, shoulder to shoulder, build our Water-Smart Society. Together with at least 28 of our members who have received a special accreditation to attend the conference, and in close collaboration with the European Commission, we are organising a number of activities and side events to set the scene for a more central positioning of water under the next European Commission.
In fact, if we look into the global scene at the moment, Europe is taking the lead into the transition to a circular economy, not in words but in actions. The European Commission published last week the updated Best Available Techniques (BAT) reference document for the textile industry, including several references to water-related challenges and particularly the outcomes of our ZEROBRINE project. This revision of the BREF contributes to paving the way toward an effective Water-Smart industrial emissions directive that fully considers the value of water, including the sustainable management of resources and the water-energy nexus. This is how Europe acts, by putting legislation in place to force the market to take action and make the transition to the circular economy real. This, amongst many other things, makes me a proud European!
2023 is a crucial year for us that will be marked by the launch of our new vision, after five years since the first publication of our Water Europe vision document. With an updated, sharper and progressive vision in hand, we are going in full force to the UN Water Conference and getting the ground ready for our own annual Water Innovation Europe conference in June. In the meantime, key priorities remain the recast of our Industrial Emissions Directive and the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and the strengthening of our membership inclusiveness. It will be a defining year for water, and we are ready to deliver!