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EWP Side Event Piloting Water Stewardship at Stockholm World Water Week 2011

Oct 18th, 2011 |

Stockholm, 18.10.2011. On the 22nd of August, the European Water Partnership (EWP) hosted a well-received panel discussion during the Stockholm World Water Week to present options for European Water Stewardship in European Urban Zones.

Earlier in the year an online survey has been launched on the EWP website in which participants were invited to prioritize 3 out of 10 key challenges to Urban Areas towards achieving integrated Sustainable Water Management. Replies were received from almost all sectors and the common most prioritized challenge among all was: “Poor motivation in public or political area to discuss long-term integrated water management as opposed to topics such as pricing, rates, extreme events (floods, droughts, contaminations).”

Further major challenges for cities identified by the survey were:

  • Improving coordination between decision-makers in cities and institutions for implementation of the Water Framework Directive (e.g. river basin management boards).
  • Improving coordination and managing the digression of interests, planning and activities between the different public authorities regarding water issues at national, regional and local level.
  • Taking into account the impact of political interests on technical approaches.

The four panel members – representatives from two European cities (Mr Janusz Karwot from Rybnik, Poland, and Mr Ian Plenderleith from Tallinn, Estonia), one NGO representative (Ms Lesha Wittmer from Women for Water Partnership, The Netherlands)  and one research institution representative (Mr Jan Bondaruk from the GIG Institute, Poland) -  completed the survey results with what they perceive as benefits and challenges of the European Water Stewardship (EWS) in Urban Zones.

The audience took the opportunity to discuss testing the EWS in pilot cities. Lesha Witmer of Women for Water stated that there is a need for Water Stewardship in Urban Areas to be tried, tested, adjusted and then retried before a solid base process can be identified for application. The EWS pilots in other sectors (e.g. industry and agriculture) can serve as motivation to start EWS testing in cities.

Another comment was that it may not be easy for some city water service providers to share their technical information within a pilot. Panel members commented that the EWS piloting is not restricted to technical sharing but about establishing an integrated governance structure. EWS pilots go beyond (technical) service provision and include waste water management as well as good governance at city and river basin level in order to reach integrated water management. This can sometimes involve as much as 4 different authorities but necessary to turn for a new way of looking at integrated water resource management.

In summary, the following main issues were raised by panel presenters as priorities for EWS pilot testing:

  • There is a need to focus on the potential lack of awareness of water issues among city administrators, planners and citizens.
  • Much knowledge is available in universities. Therefore, the cooperation between technical and research sectors shall be promoted.
  • It is important to address and involve directly (political) decision makers and the processes they follow. While water service providers strive to maintain a customer focus, political cycles can sometimes interfere with good and consistent governance.

For more information, please contact Mr. Murray Biedler,

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