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 network meets at least 2 times a year face-to-face and/ or by virtual means (list server; webinars). It decides by consensus (no objection equals agreement) on the basis of input during the meetings and by email/ internet.
Facilitators / coordination team:
The European Pact for Water (EPfW) was established in January 2016 as an informal coordination and advocacy network across the wider-Europe on water governance. Its aim is to disseminate information, build capacity, exchange on and pool collective efforts and knowledge in order to highlight the importance of water and sanitation to attain the goals set out in fundamental international and European agendas specifically on water-related issues.
EPfW participants are Europe-based non-state, not-for-profit actors, specifically NGOs and CSOs. The network currently connects directly approx. 35 organizations and its members across the EU and (European part of the) UNECE region. The network exchanges with and also receives input from organizations like Aquafed, OECD, SIWI, European Commission (DEVCO, Environment and EEAS), WWC, officials from relevant ministries in Member States of the EU.
Water and Beyond EU transformative approaches for international partnerships
The European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) and the Government of Slovenia – with the support of the Government of Portugal as the Presidency of the Council of the European Union – organised the online event ‘Water and Beyond: EU transformative approaches for international partnerships’ from 18 to 21 January 2021. Find the sessions notes here.
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.