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Ready for 2016: A Letter from our Chairman

Jan 5th, 2016 |

Dear EWP friends,

As another busy year draws to a close and EWP gets ready to enter its 10th year of operation in 2016, I would like to take a moment to reflect on where EWP stands in its work to achieve the Water Vision for Europe by 2030.

In 2015, water has made it for the fourth time on the annual list drawn by the World Economic Forum that ranks the greatest risks to economies, environments and people, and for the first time has moved into the top position for impact. 2015 was also the year that EU Member States were expected to reach the objectives laid out in the groundbreaking EU Water Framework Directive, and it is clear that although much has been achieved considerable work still remains as nearly a half of EU waters fail to meet the objectives of good health due to pollution, overabstraction or change of habitats. These sobering findings are a true sign that further collective action by governments; businesses and civil society are more important than ever to provide solutions to water crisis we face globally.

2015 was also a year of hope from the Paris climate deal to the agreement on the global Agenda 2030 and the set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including on sustainable water and sanitation for all. These important global frameworks can spur action and a shift to greener low-carbon economies and the Water Vision for Europe can guide increased efforts on reaching sustainable water management in the EU and globally and EWP will continue mobilizing action on the SDGs in 2016.

The global sustainability agenda in the interdependent world can only be delivered through partnerships and collective action focusing on mitigating shared risks and building on opportunities sustainable water management provides. EWP sees more companies upping their game in addressing their water risks and more inspiring examples of collective action continue to emerge. But despite all that, reports state that more than half of companies lack a comprehensive risk assessment when it comes to water management.

With European Water Stewardship (EWS) in its fourth year run, we are seeing more companies embracing water stewardship and EWS implementation as a means to fill that gap and reaching milestones in certification. 94% of production sites responding to a recent EWS survey expressed their satisfaction with EWS implementation and attributed great value to the direct improvements in on-site water management as well as the creation of channels for communication to external audiences on their water management performance. Another successful event this summer at the Finnish Permanent Representation in Brussels, Building Resilient Systems: Water Stewardship as a Basis for Smart Investment, showcased some of the excellent work being done by water stewards in Europe.

In efforts to ensure the integrity of the EWS system and align the EWS standard with the ISEAL mission, we have taken the first step to become a member of the ISEAL community. Furthermore, the EWP Secretariat is working closely with the EWS Standard Development Committee to address key issues as we approach our next revision cycle in 2016. EWP also continues to roll out water stewardship trainings for both specialists and larger community of interested partners. The latest training was held in our newly opened Training and Innovation center in the Wetsus Water Campus in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Leeuwarden is also where the annual European Innovation Partnership on Water Conference as well as Mayors and Water event will take place in February 2016 and EWP is contributing to the development of both initiatives.

Responding to what EWP sees a key gap in true water stewardship and with the knowledge that European water challenges cannot be successfully solved by any single actor alone, this year we started working on how EWS can help cities tackle their water challenges as well as launched a platform promoting collective water stewardship actions in agriculture (CAPWaSA), aiming to help reduce the impact of agriculture on European water bodies. As coordinator, EWP will guide the identification of existing best practices as well as the development of new practices, management schemes, and collective action partnerships between farmers, industry, civil society and the water authorities and utilities.

EWP has also joined forces with other European water organizations in EU Water Alliance to advocate vis-a-vis new European Commissioners and MEPs the importance of water to the central agenda of creating green jobs and growth and ensuring a sustainable and circular economy. EWP continues to work alongside European projects to promote water innovation in both technology and governance. The Inneon project shared its first success stories on attracting investment to eco-innovations, while the LIFE-funded Biomomi project shared its final results of innovations in textile industry at the final event in October. EWP continues to lead an Action Group under the European Innovation Partnership on Water to turn the network of National Water Partnerships into a functional SME support system in water innovations

2016 is shaping up to be another exciting year for EWP and we are pleased to announce our next annual conference on May 31st in parallel with the 2016 European Sustainable Development week to present some of the solutions and we look forward to sharing more information with you soon!

On behalf of the EWP team, we thank you for your continued support and we looking forward to working with you in 2016!

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy and green 2016.

Sincerely,
Friedrich Barth
EWP Chairman





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