Report: EU Policy Conference in Brussels on “The role of EU policies in addressing drinking water management challenges”
European dialogue on sustainability of the farming sector is currently marked by the discussions on the new EU multi-annual financing framework and implicitly by the discussions of the role, scope and focus of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In parallel, discussions are conducted on the review of several water related policy instruments and the adoption of new frameworks, like the use of treated water in agriculture.
WaterProtect has been conducting a series of activities to evaluate, analyze and replicate governance models that address water management and agricultural activities. Equally, the partners have studied the policy and legislative frameworks in seeking to integrate water management concerns with agricultural policies.
Believing that the findings and the analysis produced in our project need to be discussed and contextualized with the stakeholders, we have worked together with the project FAIRWAY to organize on the 7th of December 2018, in Brussels a large consultation. The objective was to seek pathways for integration and building synergies within EU policies so as to address water management challenges.
The conference organised at the premises of the Permanent Representation of Slovenia to the EU, has seen a very good participation (52 attendees) from all stakeholders categories, representing the farming sector (COPA-COGECA); agri-business industry (ECPA, Fertilisers Europe); water industry (EurEau; EFBW), research community, policy makers (DG AGRI, DG ENVI, DG Research, Ministry of Agriculture Slovenia) and other interested parties.
The discussions with the stakeholders were consistent and will be reflected in detail in the policy analysis report produced by WaterProtect. The main points to be extracted from the debate are:
- Water and agriculture stakeholders are all keen and ready to engage in developing and deploying solutions for better water management
- Bottom-up initiatives driven by the agricultural input providers (i.e. fertilisers, pesticides) already exist to stimulate adoption of best management practices, but there is also a call for more training to farmers for implementation;
- Smart farming is an area where further solutions can be developed;
- The new CAP implementation mechanism, through the National Strategic Plans is an opportunity to promote tailor-made solutions to the water management challenges at national, regional and local level;
- It is important for the farming community that monitoring of the status of the water resources recognises the progress that was made to incentivise farmers to further take additional measures;
- Water industry stakeholders are calling for a long-term approach for the management of the water resources since pollution impact can be felt for decades;
- Good examples of cooperation between farmers and water industry already exist throughout Europe, their results should be disseminated;
- The EU policies are evolving to take into account these new realities of the interactions between water and agriculture and they provide new opportunities and tools for action.
WaterProtect will organise two other similar policy conferences during 2019 (dates to be announced in the coming time) and they will feature the following themes:
- Main elements for a long-term strategy for the drinking-water management involving farming systems and land-use management
- Local policies, initiatives and partnerships making a positive contribution to the drinking water management involving farming systems
Stakeholders attending the event and the representatives of the two scientific projects have commited to continue the important dialog on developing and promoting solutions to enhance the synergies between water policies and agricultural poilicies at EU, national and local level.