Have you signed already? So far, over 345,000 citizens took part in the EU wide campaign #ProtectWater! This campaign is a response to the EU Fitness Check of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It asks the EU to keep the WFD strong and to improve its implementation by Member States and stakeholders. The consultation is closing on 11 March at 23.59, so if you didn’t sign yet, don’t wait and leave your signature here.
Please also read: How we lose our last wild rivers
Over 100 European NGOs, including the European Wilderness Society, are actively reaching out. At this moment, this EU public consultation became one of the three largest in the history of the European Union. Together we need to raise awareness on the poor status of rivers, lakes and wetlands in Europe. Together, we call citizens and stakeholders to action and to inform them. People depend on the wildlife on rivers and lakes and we need to stop their destruction.
Fit for purpose?
The NGO campaign is an answer to the review of the Water Framework Directive carried out by the European Commission. Currently, the EC evaluates whether this directive is ‘fit for purpose’. This evaluation is similar to the EC Fitness Check on the Birds and Habitats Directive. This check happened a couple of years ago. The EC tries to collect as many views as possible from the public and the wider stakeholder community. Everyone can express his or her view in the consultation.
“Yes, it is fit for purpose”, is – in short – the reaction of Wetlands International, WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Rivers Network and the European Anglers Alliance. These organisations have joined forces in the coalition Living Rivers Europe.
To our opinion, the WFD has proven to be an effective, flexible and modern piece of EU law embedding principles of integrated river basin management into the legal framework governing water management in the EU Member States as well as neighbouring countries.
Water Framework Directive
The WFD is one of the most important pieces of EU environmental legislation. The WFD establishes a legal framework for the protection, ecological enhancement and restoration of our waters. It also sets goals to prevent deterioration of the ecological status. The year 2000, when the EU adopted the WFD, marks a break with the fragmented, national based water policies of before. The WFD has a holistic approach, integrating environmental, economic and social systems.
Fit, but better implementation needed
The Living Rivers Europe coalition aims to show the progress, which has been made towards achieving ecologically healthy rivers and wetlands under the Water Framework Directive. At the same time, the coalition highlights that there is room for improvement in the implementation. Among other things, the coalition stresses the need for amplified measures to restore our rivers. This is necessary to achieve the WFD’s environmental objectives.
The focus should be on stepping up ambitions to achieve the objectives until 2027. Water ecosystems in the EU are still experiencing significant degradation and loss of wildlife. People have to reverse this trend through more ambitious and effective River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) and Programmes of Measures (PoMs). For example, by applying proper public participation, incentive water pricing and ensuring sufficient allocation of funds. Also, we need better integration of sustainable use and management of water into other relevant policies. For example in the agriculture, energy and transport policies.
#ProtectWater aims to achieve support for strong EU water policy from the general public. The campaign tries to catch the public’s attention by linking themes. For example such as beer and wildlife to the status of freshwater ecosystems and the EU policies that protect them. By providing a webform on their websites, the 100 campaigning NGOs facilitate a response from the public to the EC consultation.
The consultation is closing on 12 March, so if you didn’t sign yet, don’t wait and leave your signature here.
This posting was jointly written with Wetlands International, on behalf of the campaign from Living Rivers Europe.