2016 Sees Positive Steps Towards Reaching the Water Vision 2030
Dec 22nd, 2016 |
2016 saw some progress in implementation of the historical decisions taken in 2015 on the Agenda 2030 including a dedicated goal on sustainable water and Paris Climate Agreement. In 2016 both governments and non-state actors started early steps in translating those crucial decisions and commitments into action. For example, European Commission recently outlined its intention to mainstream Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all its policies and budgets and proposed to take a moment of reflection to further develop how Agenda 2030 can be used to give new purpose to the EU and reconnect to its citizens. Even though the current proposals from the European Commission stop short of a radical transformation needed to shift EU on the sustainable path, EWP remains committed to work in partnership with other actors to demonstrate solutions and mobilise key stakeholders to take action so we can achieve Water Vision for Europe 2030.
While global policy frameworks are taking shape to drive uptake and implementation, new coalitions of state and non-state actors are emerging and offer a promising model for on-the-ground implementation of the SDGs and climate solutions. The EWP Conference in May 2016 concluded that water stewardship framework strongly supports the implementation of the SDGs both in the EU and globally and European Water Stewardship Standard (EWS) is playing an ever more important role in providing tools for water users to respond to water-related challenges and to maximize opportunities that sustainable water management brings. EWS also provides a framework where companies and other water users can step up their sustainability game by developing targets pertaining to the global SDGs and disclosing their water risks. Starting in 2017, the European Union Non-Financial Reporting Directive requires European companies to include information on environmental performance, including on water risks, in their financial reporting.
As visibility and strengthened engagement in water stewardship grows – the Water Stewardship Standards are being implemented and supporting water stewardship objectives at hundreds of sites in Europe and around the world, the decision was also taken by the EWS Members’ Council to use the standard’s scheduled revision in 2017 to achieve a single global water stewardship standard system together with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) which will ensure a broader network of global water stewards and a credible, globally-consistent and independently verifiable One Standard System.
Meanwhile, in 2017 both standards will continue to be consistently applied in parallel and the EWS Members’ Council approved new measures during this critical period, invigorating efforts to engage companies in water stewardship such as the Multi-Site and Catchment Group Scheme and the expansion of trainings under the European Water Stewardship program, including the most recent specialist training held in Leeuwarden’s Watercampus in December.
European cities are emerging as the newest water stewards, per the Sustainable Cities Water Index eight of the top ten sustainable cities are European. The New Urban Water Agenda 2030 launched at the beginning of this year confirmed the importance of urban areas leading sustainable water management. Cities like Leeuwarden are using EWS as the backbone of their water management, to ensure they address water-related risks with a continuous monitoring system and as a starting point to set targeted response strategies.
EWP has maintained a link to policy development in Brussels to ensure our initiatives support its implementation. With a revision process on the horizon for Europe’s key regulatory frameworks for water (e.g.Water Framework Directive) and agriculture (Common Agricultural Policy), policymakers have started to discuss how to better align them. Water stewardship also plays a key role in engaging the agricultural sector to improve water resource use.
At the beginning of 2017 EWP will officially launch a new platform Collective Action Partnerships for Water Stewardship in Agriculture where we have been identifying successful partnerships between farmers and other stakeholders. The program will increase knowledge share on how to enable farmers to successfully implement best water management practices and feed those learnings into the upcoming CAP and WFD revision processes.
Trends towards developing a circular economy for Europe continue to grow with new initiatives on the topic of water reuse, where water stewards implementing EWS also take action. Leading up to the finalization of EU-funded Inneon, EWP and consortium published several success stories matching eco-innovators with investors, another example of EWP’s ongoing work to support SME’s to innovate in water.
On behalf of the entire EWP, we thank our members and growing network of partners for their continued support and look forward to continuing to explore new opportunities for collaboration, particularly in those sectors which show increasing interest.
Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!