In Europe, water is too often taken for granted even though Europeans are facing increasing challenges directly related to water. Floods, droughts and water scarcity are familiar to many people all over Europe, and adequate sanitation facilities still do not exist for 62 million people in the pan-European region. These blind spots lead to insufficient political action and a lack of funding and general recognition of the challenges ahead. Therefore, awareness of water and sanitation issues needs to be raised at all levels to enable the kind of solid knowledge and behaviour change that leads to greater stakeholder involvement and the adoption of supportive polices and financing decisions — our key demands for the 2019 European Parliament elections.
We use the term “Aquawareness” to summarize all actions related to these objectives.
The EPfW network directly connects 35+ organizations across Europe working on water-related issues
The European Pact for Water (EPfW) was established in January 2016 as a Europe-wide informal coordination and advocacy network focused on water governance. The network’s aim is to disseminate information, build knowledge and capacities and, through collective efforts, highlight the importance of water and sanitation on international and European agendas.
EPfW participants are Europe-based non-state actors (NGOs and CSOs). The network currently connects 35+ organizations across the European part of the UNECE region. EPfW exchanges with, receives input from and liaises with organizations such as Aquafed, OECD, SIWI, the European Commission (DEVCO, Environment and EEAS), WWC, and Member States of the EU.
Because we value water in all its dimensions — economic, social, environmental and cultural — our vision is to create Europe-wide “Aquawareness” in order to achieve sustainable water resource management and universal access to safe water supply and sanitation.
“Aquawareness” in a general sense refers to raising awareness of water as the key factor in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For instance, the goals for Sustainable Economic Growth (SDG 8), Agricultural Productivity (SDG 2), Good Health (SDG 3) and Climate Action (SDG 13) cannot be reached without targeted measures on (transboundary) protection of water sources, ecosystems and wastewater management. Therefore, water must become a crucial theme for key target groups (the general public, the media, non-governmental stakeholders and politicians), with the aim of producing behaviour change and securing funding for political action and policies.
In a more specific sense, “Aquawareness” is a label that can function as a common umbrella term not only in campaigning and raising political demands, but also for specific actions such as making eco-friendlier changes to production processes, re-using safely managed wastewater for irrigation, and implementing infrastructure that adapts to climate change. Under this common umbrella, actions that would otherwise happen separately can be brought together to create higher visibility and increase public pressure for action on water-related issues.