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APE attended the 4th Meeting of the European Commission’s (ATG) on Water Scarcity & Droughts

water meetings

On 26 and 27 October, Aqua Publica attended the 4th Meeting of the European Commission’s Ad-hoc Task Group (ATG) on Water Scarcity & Droughts, hosted by the Spanish Presidency of the EU in Madrid. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the progress of the ongoing work of the ATG on new guidelines for drought risk management. It was also the occasion to learn from good practices in Member States, particularly Spain's new Drought Risk Management Plan.

Key topics discussed in Madrid included the incorporation of climate change and environmental aspects (eco-flows) in long-term planning for water resource management, increased stakeholder participation, and the improved collection and integration of data on water usage. Aqua Publica shared its views based on previous work, such as our seminar in Sevilla, and ongoing research on the topic. In particular, Aqua Publica was invited to share its views on the potential of water markets as a tool for allocating water among different users.

Based on available evidence and literature, Aqua Publica argued that water markets are not an effective tool for tackling overexploitation, while they can generate social tensions and affordability issues. A more suitable approach to collectively manage an increasingly scarce resource involves adopting more flexible concession regimes that are based on inclusive and evidence-based decision-making processes; such process need then to be led by public authorities and in particular river basin authorities empowered with a clear political mandate to comply with the Water Framework Directive.