On 24 and 25 May, the 3rd European Water Conference brought together 230 participants representing stakeholders, Member States, and the European Commission to promote consultation and debate on the policy options of the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources and related assessments.
The conference, which was organized by Ecologic Institute on behalf of the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission, took place on the premises of the Charlemagne building in Brussels. The event was integrated into Green Week 2012.
Peter Gammeltoft, Head of Unit Protection of Water Resources at the Directorate General for Environment, affirms that the overall aim of the Blueprint is the same as that of the WFD: to ensure good quality and quantity of water in Europe. The Blueprint, which will be closely linked to the EU’s 2020 strategy and resource efficiency roadmap, will improve the implementation of current EU water policy, foster the integration of water and other policies, and, when necessary, complete the current policy framework.
Alan Seatter, Deputy Director General Environment at the European Commission and chair of the first Session of the Conference, invited participants to take part in the public consultation on the Blueprint, in seeking how we can work together to deliver better water solutions.
Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), presented an overview of the current state of waters in Europe. A key message from the 2010 EEA State of Environment report is that water resources management has become a systemic issue for many other discussions within the environment.
Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, highlighted important challenges for water policy: worldwide water demand will increase by 55% by 2050 and costs of inadequate water management are very high. He stressed that people will face many problems in the future if water policy does not act today. He sees a possible solution in pricing water and water-related services adequately, as this will help to improve efficiency in use.
Austrian MEP Richard Seeber said during the closing session that there are still knowledge and data gaps which can be solved through increased hydrological expertise to better inform policymakers. For example, currently there is not a comprehensive overview of how much water flows in and out of river basins.
Finally, and as stated by Peter Gammeltoft (Head of Unit Protection of Water Resources at the Environment Directorate General), the public consultation conducted by DG Environment revealed that the views shared by stakeholders were coherent with the challenges and gaps identified in the documents supporting the development of the Blueprint. As part of the ongoing process on the Blueprint, policy baselines are developed based on the implementation of existing measures. Scenarios with new measures will enable us to see how they affect achievements of the EU water policy and deliver results in a cost effective way towards building the Blueprint.
Ecologic Institute provided overall conference planning and management, contributed to background material, and created and maintained the conference website, including livestream and interactivity with viewers. Ecologic Institute also supported the promotion of the event and its integration into the Green Week.
More information on the 3rd EU Water Conference, can also be found on the Green Week Issue of Environment for Europeans.