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"We need a Water Union" - says APE President at Festival dell'Acqua

APE President - Bernard Van Nuffel - participated as a speaker on a session on "A European Agenda for Water", at the "Festival dell'Acqua" on 23 September

Bernard Van Nuffel - Festival dell'Acqua

On 23 September, APE’s President – Mr Bernard Van Nuffel – participated as a speaker in a session on “A European Agenda for Water: Priorities and Possibilities”, organised by the Italian association of water utilities – Utilitalia – in the framework of its bi-annual congress in Turin.

Following an introductory address by Ms Veronica Manfredi, Deputy Director-General at DG Environment of the European Commission,  Van Nuffel discussed the evolution of the EU policy framework for water and climate together with other representatives of the water sector in Europe, including: Mr Oliver Loebel, Secretary General of Eureau; Michele Falcone, chair of SGI’s taskforce on water; Prof Andrea Guerrini, President of the European Association of Water Regulators (WAREG); Giordano Colarullo, Director General of Utilitalia.

In his speech, Van Nuffel expressed Aqua Publica’s strong support for the EU New Green Deal and, in particular, for the European Commission’s Zero Pollution Action Plan for water, air and soil.  The Action Plan, in Van Nuffel’s view, is an ambitious strategy that, by addressing boldly the sources of pollution, not only will it contribute to the well-being of current and future generations, but it will also be a factor of cohesion and democracy, as ‘we all know that it is the most vulnerable people who are most exposed to the effects of pollution’.

Van Nuffel then acknowledged that the Action Plan, and the new water legislations that derive from it – in particular the new Drinking Water Directive and the forthcoming Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive – are raising the bar for water utilities but, he added, ‘European public water utilities are ready to take up the challenge’. He explained how Aqua Publica Europea is actively supporting members’ efforts to address the new requirements, by regularly organising technical exchanges to facilitate the circulation of best practices on a wide-ranging series of topics (energy efficiency, leak reduction, emerging pollutants, etc.) In addition, Aqua Publica is also organising a series of public seminar to involve different stakeholders in discussing the conditions to develop collective responses to big societal challenges related to water (such as on circular economy, transparency, financing, Nature-Based Solutions, water scarcity and droughts).

Based on these exchanges with civil society and other institutions, Van Nuffel emphasised in his conclusion the strategic importance of large and inclusive participatory processes to develop informed decisions on water-related problems, as well as the importance of politicians’ implication to then adopt and realise these decisions: water operators, Van Nuffel argued, have a very important role to play and responsibilities, but they cannot alone address all the challenges ahead without a collective effort and a coherent policy framework to manage our common water resources. For this reason, Van Nuffel called on EU institutions to promote a ‘Water Union’, as in the current years they did for the health and energy sector.

You can download here Bernard Van Nuffel's presentation