Conference: Water Policy in Australia and the EU – Sharing the lessons learnt
May 3rd, 2010 |
Brussels, 30 April 2010. On Friday the Spanish Presidency of the EU, in collaboration with the Australian Mission to the EU, hosted the “Water Policy in Australia and the EU, Sharing the lessons learnt”, discussing and comparing the different experiences in water management of Spain and Australia.
HE Dr Brendan Nelson, the Australian Ambassador to the EU, outlined the importance of the water issue in the political agenda of every country, especially for Australia, the driest inhabited continent in the world: in the last decade the Australian government has worked to modify the people’s attitudes to the daily use of water, reducing considerably the amount of water-use per person.
Mr Gustaaf Borchardt, Director at the Commission of the DG Environment, with responsibilities for water, chemicals and biotechnologies, said that “water is at the top of the political priorities: not only the UN or the EU are dealing with this issue, but especially the local authorities, because water is a question for individuals.” In particular he focused his attention on the Water Framework Directive: “one of the best instruments the EU put on the table, because it has an holistic approach, trying to integrate cross-cutting policies”.
The Spanish keynote Speaker, Ms. Marta Moren Abat, General Director responsible for water in the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, speaking about the ongoing River Basin Plans in Spain, recognized that the process is developing slower than expected by a first prevision, because the cross-cutting dimension of water governance and the need for interaction between the environmental, social and economic field. Furthermore, “is not easy to identify the costs and who has to pay for them, to fund and pay the majors.” Ms. Moren Abat said.
Mr. Will Fargher, as General Manager of the Australian National Water Commission (NWC) Water Markets and Efficiency Group, has presented the successful Australian National Water Initiative designed to increase the efficiency of Australia’s water use, leading to greater certainty for investment and productivity, for rural and urban communities, and for the environment. Under this initiative Australian governments have made commitments to: prepare water plans with provision for the environment, deal with over-allocated or stressed water system, introduce registers of water rights and standards for water accounting, expand water trading, improve pricing for water storage and delivery, meet and manage urban water demands. “The water reform in Australia I delivering real improvements in the management, use and understanding of water, much of this progress could be attributed to the NWI” he concluded.