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Looking Back at 2017-A Letter from the EWP Team

Jan 2nd, 2018 |

Dear EWP Partners,

Water crises remained one of the most critical global risks in 2017; this year’s hurricane season devastated North and Central America; consequences of serious contamination to drinking water continued to come to light; Europe saw some of the worst flooding in decades, high in costs of human life and losses; while southern Europe grappled with the impacts of long droughts to millions of hectares of crops, drying rivers and sparking wildfires.

Drivers of European sustainability agenda like the Sustainable Development Goals and Circular Economy are also putting water higher on the EU agenda. Policy-makers are working to develop the appropriate guidance and monitoring measures, while European companies are exploring new ways to ensure water as a central element of their business operations. EWP continues to support both policy and corporate goals on water by promoting the implementation of good water stewardship practices in Europe.

At the core of those activities, came the review and revision of the European Water Stewardship standard, started at the beginning of 2017. The process cumulated with the EWS Members’ Council approval of several key changes in the standard, including the upgrading of recommendations to minor indicators and merging of repetitive indicators.

A key element of the review process was to pave the way forward for a new global water stewardship standard with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) in 2018. AWS and EWP took steps towards that goal by delivering a joint training in the EWP headquarters as well as an alignment workshop in Madrid in September, where stakeholders of both systems were invited to contribute their input. The discussion identified the need for a new and improved means for addressing water in the supply chain, an important and challenging element for many water stewards.

EWS saw its network of national European implementation partners expand incrementally as well as the development of new approaches to the use of the EWS standard. ABP Food Group’s production sites in Ireland achieved the first certification against the EWS Multi-Site scheme, demonstrating the company’s proactive approach to resource management and sustainability to customers and suppliers. EWP also contributed to development of a National Roadmap for Water Stewardship, identifying key incentives and strategies to support the uptake of water stewardship at member-state level.

New sectors, like breweries and utilities, have joined the first leaders in water stewardship in using EWS to assess and mitigate their water-related risks while an Urban Working Group on Water Stewardship has been set up to support a pilot on the use of the standard by the city of Leeuwarden. Medical Water Stewardship has also emerged as a promising means to minimize environmental impacts from pharmaceuticals.

In 2017, EWS developed new tools for its implementers, including an e-learning module together with partner Central Solutions, giving new users of the standard an introductory overview of its requirements. EWS also joined forces with ECO-OS to digitize the EWS Standard and streamline data management and audit processes.

This year, Europe has experienced a big push for the alignment of water and agricultural policy as the Commission gears up for a Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and revision of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Responding to the need to bring agricultural water users on their way towards more responsible water management, EWP’s new platform for the Collective Action Partnership Promoting Water Stewardship in Agriculture was officially launched in parallel with this year’s Forum for the Future of Agriculture. In October, EWP held its annual event Does Water Stewardship Support the Achievement of Public Policy Goals on Sustainable Water Management and Agriculture? showcasing some of the best examples from the platform of collective action partnerships in agriculture between farmers, companies, public authorities and civil society.

Within the scope of the platform, EWP begun work on the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme funded WaterProtect. EWP is leading efforts to upscale learnings and know-how of multi-stakeholder approach applied to seven case studies in Ireland, Poland, Romania, Spain, Italy, Netherlands and Belgium where agricultural water pollution is prevalent. The case studies will ensure a close cooperation between farmers, communities, private and public water suppliers, researchers and government ministries and agencies to reduce point source and diffuse pollution at the local catchment scale.

From the EWP team, we thank you for your support over the past year, wish you, your colleagues and family a happy holiday season and look forward to working with you again in the new year!

Sincerely,

The EWP team





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