Water and Climate : European Public Water Operator’s Commitment to Water Resources Protection

On the occasion of APE-Eau de Paris “Water and Climate” seminar, and on the eve of the COP21 Conference, APE presented a publication collecting a series of best practices from APE members with regard to the protection of water resources.

The cases reported in the booklet concern voluntary actions promoted by some of APE members with the aim to ensure a better—and long term—protection of water resources, as regards both qualitative and quantitative aspects.

More precisely, the initiatives implemented in this filed are wide-ranging and include the identification and protection of abstraction areas; the promotion of voluntary approaches with agriculture and industry to reduce pollution at source; awareness-raising campaigns promoting water efficiency and conservation, and the introduction of innovative devices and methodologies for leakages or sludge reduction.

Such variety is expected: water resources management is particularly influenced by, and responds to, localised geographical characteristics and socio-economic factors. However, despite such differences, all these case-studies share one important aspect, namely that publicly-owned operators are increasingly playing a proactive role by promoting trans-local knowledge networks, stakeholders’ engagement and innovative governance solutions, with the ultimate goal of ensuring effective protection of water resources.

Under the mandate of local policy-makers and relying on a long-term vision, public water operators’ activities go thus increasingly beyond traditional industrial tasks, to embrace new functions and responsibilities in response to the needs of local communities and to tackle common water-related challenges.

Drawing on those experiences, a series of policy recommendations are proposed at the end of the publication, emphasising, in particular:

-  the need for a better integration of water-related issues in all relevant policy areas (in particular agriculture) and at all political levels (including the forthcoming COP21 conference);
-  the importance of ensuring a coherent policy framework, which facilitates the adoption of the most-cost effective solutions;
-  the need to promote an equitable participation of different societal uses in the recovery of the costs related to the management and protection of water resources, which ensures the right balance between affordability and sustainability requirements.

At a turning point for the future of our environment, policymakers have the crucial responsibility of adopting a consistent and conductive framework for ensuring a sustainable use of environmental resources. However, the concrete implementation of this framework will be everyone’s task. Public water operators are committed to taking on this responsibility and actively contributing to it.

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