European Water Partnership

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

Mission and Objectives


The European Water Partnership is pursuing a strategy of facilitating a multi-stakeholder approach to water policy in Europe. It is not clear, however, if this approach is to include all stakeholders, including, for example, workers and domestic water users. More likely is the multi-stakeholder approach including only elite actors, for instance business, lobby networks, think tanks and bureaucrats.

The EWP describes its mission as "to give water one common voice in Europe. We commit to the European Water Vision and will initiate, support and enforce all actions and projects that will help to achieve the vision (aims)", see below for a discussion of the European Water Vision. Encapsulating their mission is the European Water Vision, which envisages a successful policy when "We have achieved sustainable water resource management and universal access to modern and safe water supply and sanitation because we value water in all its dimensions - in its economic, social, environmental and cultural importance [1]. Using such benign language masks the potential implications of such an approach. Namely that the economic dimension could dominate all others and ultimately price water at a cost that is too expensive, detrimentally affecting the social, environmental and cultural dimensions.


EWP describes its objectives on its website as being to:

  • Provide an open and independent forum to discuss innovative management, technological and financial solutions,
  • Mobilise funding methods for water and develop new procurement approaches,
  • Stimulate and support cooperation between members,
  • Put water on the mainstream political and media agenda, improving awareness of the urgency of water challenges among policy makers and business,
  • Promote the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the wider Europe and through an EU neighbourhood policy for water and the Horizon 2020 programme for the Mediterranean,
  • Contribute Independently to the EU water-related initiatives,
  • Promote technological and managerial innovation, developing projects to demonstrate innovative technologies and solutions, enabling these technologies to reach the market.[2]

In trying to achieve their mission and objectives the EWP have undertaken a broad, multi-faceted strategy. A combination of conference organising, developing initiatives, a monthly newsletter, a news blog and organising the European process for the World Water Forum have ensured that the EWP have made a significant impression since their launch in 2006.


According to the European Water Partnership's website, "The European Water Partnership has been established in 2006, borne of two major initiatives in the European water sector: the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP) and the European Regional Process, which produced the European position at the fourth World Water Forum in Mexico in March 2006 [3].


The Aquareness campaign, launched by the European Water Partnership, is an initiative that appears benevolent but is perhaps not quite as it seems. Outwardly, Aquawareness is a positive initiative in that its purpose is to change behaviour and practices, crossing Public, Private and Sectoral barriers, so as to conserve and sustain water for now and in the future. Inwardly the central messages of demand rather than supply management (a euphemism for the market managing supply), voluntary schemes to control water use and moreover, the strategic partners involved in designing Aquawareness all prompt concern at the motivations and consequences of this seemingly innocuous initiative.

Apparently, "The new voluntary program Aquawareness sets sights on changing behaviour and practices, shaping and integrating water into policy and strategy agendas as well as creating a water saving and efficiency culture among private, industrial, business and agricultural users. Through information, education and training a paradigm shift from supply to demand management shall be achieved" [4].

Aquawareness is multi faceted initiative with different strands and messages inherent within it.

Water Stewardship

The objectives of this program are to establish and provide a voluntary scheme for sustainable water use that:

  • Becomes an extensively adopted instrument for sustainable water management crossing public, private and sectoral barriers
  • Promotes water to become integral part of policy and business agendas
  • Creates knowledge&transparency on production and consumption patterns
  • Presents a common framework for assessing, implementing and communicating sustainable water management [5].

European Water Awareness Programme

"This program directs to introduce a water saving and water efficiency culture among political decision makers, key stakeholders and inhabitants within Europe. The basic tool to implement awareness on sustainable water use on all social and geographical levels is to make information on sustainable water use available for everybody. Improved information creates transparency on the water situation and ensures a realistic and objective decision making process on all levels. In that way, the program encourages the change of behaviour, practices or habits and supports an efficient policy making process" [6].

Water Vision for Europe

The Water Vision for Europe 2030 is a criticaly important document in terms of offering a clue to the motivation and value system of the European Water Partnership. Apparently developed in a multi-stakeholder process, encompassing broad and diverse interests, it is concerning in terms of the stakeholders and narrow interests involved, its content and the positive response since illicited from different institutions inside the EU.

Given the soft and bland language used in the text of the Water Vision for Europe its perhaps unsurprising that it has gained some EU support and little questioning of its real intent. Indeed, the language and rhetoric used, at times, replicates that of water campaigners. For instance there are few who would disagree with the following statement, "We treat water as our common heritage with an economic, social, environmental and cultural value for our societies. Water is not a commodity like any other one – it’s a fragile resource which can not be replaced and we protect and preserve it for future generations to sustain our societies, our economies and the environment. Water sustainability is crucial for us" [7].

They also say how "Water is an essential human need and we recognize the access to basic water supply and sanitation as a human right" [8]. Despite the talk of rights and sustainability its vital to note some of the other objectives contained in this document. Arguably, these are in opposition the aims of sustainability and rights. Such as when they assert how "Water services have a price. We pay for services and for the uses and our pricing policies are guided by transparency, sustainability, efficiency as well as a social and environmental approach. We use water pricing and other economic instruments to achieve sustainable water use" [9].

While they see no contradiction in attaining a right to water and sustainability whilst putting an economic (appropriate) price on water there are others who do. For instance, if all of the worlds peoples have a right to water how do we provide them with necessary water if they do not have the financial means to purchase it? Moreover, if water is to be sold at a profit, or if goods made from water are sold at a profit, does this encourage responsible or incessant and irresponsible water use? Especially when companies have a legal obligation to make profit and maximise the dividend to shareholders wherever and whenever possible?

A clue perhaps to the motivation of this document is given when one peruses the list of participants and signatories. Initiated and co-ordinated by the [European Water Partnership] the list reads like a who's who of companies in which water plays a central part, either in supply or use, in their operations. They do not represent Civil Society in Europe or the Citizenry of Europe. In the main, with one or two tokenistic exceptions, this is a paper for business written by business.

Participants and Signatories

EU Involvement and support

As shown above the European Union through the European Commission DG-Environment is a signatory of the 'Water Vision for Europe 2030'. Alongside corporations, by their involvement, they confirmed their belief in the price mechanism being the best way to regulate water use and sustainable water practices. EC DG-Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said "“Aquawareness is an excellent and timely initiative, responding directly to the challenges highlighted in the Commission’s Communication and its necessary follow-up with all stakeholders" [10].

Others in EU institutions have also been involved with the European Water Partnership in promoting the Aquawareness campaign and the accompanying vision statement 'Water Vision for Europe 2030'. The European Water Partnership describe how the launch of the Vision and Aquawareness took place "On Monday, 30th June 2008 the European Water Vision and Aquawareness, the European water awareness and water stewardship programme, were launched at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Both, the Vision and Aquawareness, were initiated by the EWP and developed in close cooperation with MEP Dr. Richard Seeber as well as with wide ranging stakeholders" [11].

The President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pottering remarked “In the name of the European Parliament I strongly welcome the initiatives that have been launched in this conference today: the European water vision for the twenty first century and the Aquawareness programme! Awareness of the current water situation in the Europe Union and its challenges, as well as a vision for the future of Europe's water, are crucial drivers in order to strive for a sustainable water management.” [12].

Peter Gammeltoft (Acting Director DG Environment, Directorate D, European Commission) took part in a high-level discussion of the vision for Europe alongside others such as Richard Seeber (MEP), Pekka Personen (Secretary- General COPA-COGECA), Tony Baynes (Director of Public Affairs Coca Cola HBC), [[Tony Long]] (Director WWF EPO), Sharon Nunes (Vice President Big Green Innovations IBM), Mitja Bricelj (State Secretary for Environment, Republic of Slovenia).

The aspirations of the EU are best explained by themselves. They explain their strategy in their 2007 Activities Report.

"Over the year the EWP has been able to further improve our relations with the European Institutions to better be able to raise water on the political agenda. Within the European Parliament the EWP has co-initiated a concrete process to make surewater gets the place on the political level it deserves. Three parallel activities have been started: the European Water Forum, which was set up by MEP Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines and the Dolphin Group, which will be an informal platform for current and former MEPs to discuss water issues. Furthermore, following the recent Communication on Water Scarcity and Droughts the European Parliament represented by the rapporteur Dr. Seeber wishes to react to this communication with a broad based initiative report which looks at the key strategic challenges. For this purpose Dr. Seeber, started a close cooperation with the EWP. Of course, most of the other activities and initiatives described below also aim to have political implications. The EWP will coordinate the regional process for the fifth World Water Forum, which includes a political process; it took part in the European Solidarity Week for Water, which aims to initiate an ongoing dialogue on water in Europe; it will co-organise a high-level policy dialogue on “EU Sanitation policies and practices in the 2008 International Year of Sanitation”, etc. All these activities contribute to the goal of the EWP to raise water on the political agenda" [13].

EWP Media

The European Water Partnership are quite prolific in terms of their news output to stakeholders, members, policy-makers etc. News outlets include a section of EWP NEWS; an EWP NEWSLETTER; a specialised EUROPEAN WATER NEWS newsletter and a blog titled BLUE GOLD.

Blue Gold Blog

The Blue Gold Blog is managed by James Dorsey of Quest Ltd on behalf of the European Water Partnership.

EWP News

EWP News is a selection of news items about the European Water Partnership and its partners.

EWP Newsletter

The EWP Newsletter is quarterly and is intended for members and non-members alike. It purpose is to keep those interested abreast of the progress of the EWP and its activities planned.

European Water News

The EWP State how "The European Water Partnership set up the European Water News in collaboration with Reed Business. This Europe-wide information platform on water-issues, is dedicated to providing news, papers and reviews on water management in Europe. Key issues currently include flood risk, water shortage, water pollution, climate change and governance. The website and its related weekly newsletter bring together information on the water challenges facing Europe, and the innovative technologies and solutions available to address these challenges. European Water News is focused on key decision-makers in European businesses, politics and NGOs" [14].


Policy Summits co-organised by Friends Of Europe

The European Water Partnership has, alongside the influential Think Tank Friends of Europe, organised three Policy Summits since 2006.

The Policy Summit in 2006 was titled 'THE WORLD’S WATER CRISIS TURNING THE TIDE - POLICIES FOR THE FUTURE'. Co-organised with Friends of Europe it was also supported by Veolia Environnement and the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP). For the report of this conference seeWORLD’S WATER CRISIS TURNING THE TIDE - POLICIES FOR THE FUTURE'.

The 2007 Policy Summit was entitled 'Water Security; Does Europe have a strategy?'. It was again Co-organised with Friends of Europe, it was also supported by Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP), the Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate and Dow Europe. The Media partner was Europe’s World. For the report of the conference see Water Security - Does Europe Have a strategy.

The 2008 Policy Summit was titled 'Saving Europe's Water: Its Place in the EU's Green Strategy'. Co-sponsored by Coca-Cola and Veolia it was again co-organised by Friends of Europe.

Other conferences Attended

The European Water Partnership has particpated and attended a host of water conferences in Europe since its inception. A brief selection of some of these conferences follow. For a full list of their activities see EWP News

Stockholm World Water Week

"During the 2007 Stockholm World Water Week the EWP organised a side event on Water and Energy. The event featured a high level panel discussion on the business response to the increasing need for water and energy, followed by a discussion between the audience and the members of the panel. The panel consisted of Peter Gammeltoft (DG Environment), Jorg Gerber (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), Joppe Cramwinckel (Shell), Rui Rodrigues (Portuguese Water Resources Department) and Paul van Koppen (IRC)".

European Water Conference, 22-23 March 2007.

"The European Water Partnership was invited to participate in the European Water Conference, which coincided with World Water Day. The theme for this year's Conference and indeed for the World Water Day was "Coping with Water Scarcity". On the conference WISE, the new Water Information System for Europe, was launched. The larger part of the Conference was devoted to the EU Water Policy, particularly the Water Framework Directive, its successes, challenges and future perspectives. Many speakers referred to the need for cooperation because of the transboundary nature of the water problems. The current German presidency and the following Portuguese and Slovenian presidencies will have water as a priority area" [15].

International Symposium on "Resolving the Water-Energy Nexus" November 2008

High-level policy event on EU sanitation policies and practices, Brussels, 29 January 2008

"On the 29th of January the EWP will co-organise a high-level policy event on EU sanitation policies and practices together with WECF, KIWA, GWP, CORAM and CCB. This event will bring together 50-100 key experts from all sectors and different EU Commission and DGs for a 1-day event in Brussels to raise awareness and stimulate political will within the European Union on the safe and sustainable management of wastewater and excreta, a worldwide challenge" [16].

Blue Planet Forum

"The European Water Partnership was invited by the Committee of the Regions to be a partner of the Blue Planet Forum which took place in Brussels on 27 - 28 November 2007. The Blue Planet Forum is an initiative by the Committee of the Regions with the support of the European Commission Directorate General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs and the collaboration of World Ocean Network in the context of the European Commission "Blue Paper" on an integrated European maritime policy" [17].


EWP Board

EWP Advice Board



Members Include the Following. For the full list see List of Members


The European Water Partnership has undertook colloborations with a plethora of organisations. Its central role in linking users of water such as purveyors of soft drinks and biotechnology firms, supranational institutions, investors, lawyers, media groups, transnational policy networks, energy firms, science, water providers, lobbyists etc suggests strongly that the Europeasn Water Partnership is an anchor organisation in co-ordinating activities and developing a common position for all of its partners. IE One that ensures the commercialisation of water and appropriate pricing of water that ensures a 'proper' values is placed on it.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

"The EWP is cooperating with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on a number of issues. At the launch of their Global Water Tool during the Stockholm World Water Week in 2007 the EWP agreed to work together with the WBCSD on promoting this tool. The WBCSD also takes part in the Preparation and Consolidation phase of Water Stewardship. Furthermore, following the EWP side event in Stockholm, the EWP and WBCSD will work together on the issue of water and energy" [18].

Global Water Partnership and NowNet

"Over the last year the EWP has worked to further establish networks on water around Europe. Among other things, we have been in discussion with the [[Global Water Partnership]] and NowNet on the ways in which we can best cooperate in the near future. The EWP and GWP do already cooperate in some activities and we will work in 2007 to formalise and further elaborate on this relationship" [19].

Resource Efficiency Alliance

"Together with the European Partners for the Environment, EUROCITIES, REC, EUCETSAand other partners the EWP has started the Resource Efficiency Alliance to promote a better use of resources, improving competitiveness and environmental protection. The objective of the Alliance is to become a ‘Multi-stakeholder Accelerator of Progress’ engaging synergies between Investors, Companies, Public Local Authorities, Civil Society Organizations and Media. These synergies shall contribute to accelerate the needed transition to a clean/low carbon energy and resource efficiency attitude" [20].

"Ad Hoc Group on “Furthering economic and environmental performance of EU enterprises”

"The EWP participated in the meeting of the 9th Ad Hoc Group on “Furthering economic and environmental performance of EU enterprises” on March 29th in Brussels. These Ad Hoc Groups are set up to provide input in High Level Group on Competitiveness, Energy and the Environment in which high level persons with relevant competence and responsibility cooperate to address issues where competitiveness, energy and environmental policies interrelate. The 9th Ad Hoc Group provided advice on how European industry can be encouraged to be both competitive and committed to the energy and climate change challenges" [21].

Partner in AskEU

AskEU is a European organisation aiming to facilitate knowledge exchange, mainly in the fields of environmental and water technology. To achieve this, AskEU organises various events and tries to couple questions and knowledge, i.e. experts and literature, via its website. The EWP is a partner of this organisation and has a seat in the AskEU Board of Advice [22].

The European Water Partnership and the World Water Forum

Contact Details

European Water Partnership

Avenue de Tervuren 168 / 15 B-1150 Brussels Belgium

Tel +32 2 735 0681 Fax +32 2 735 0682 E-mail:


  1. European Water Partnership Mission and Objectives, Accessed 13 December 2008,
  2. Mission and Objectives of the EWP, European Water Partnership website, accessed January 2009
  3. European Water Partnership History, Accessed 13 December 2008,
  4. European Water Partnership Aquawareness, Accessed 14th December 2008,
  5. European Water Partnership Aquawareness, Accessed 14th December 2008,
  6. European Water Partnership Aquawareness, Accessed 14th December 2008,
  7. Aquawareness, 'Water Vision for Europe 2030' (June 2008)
  8. Aquawareness, 'Water Vision for Europe 2030' (June 2008)
  9. Aquawareness, 'Water Vision for Europe 2030' (June 2008)
  10. European Water Partnership, Summary of The 'Launch of the European Water Vision for the 21st century and Aquawareness, (30th June 2008) European Parliament, Brussels
  11. European Water Partnership, Summary of The 'Launch of the European Water Vision for the 21st century and Aquawareness, (30th June 2008) European Parliament, Brussels
  12. European Water Partnership, Summary of The 'Launch of the European Water Vision for the 21st century and Aquawareness, (30th June 2008) European Parliament, Brussels
  13. European Water Partnership, Activities Report 2007
  14. European Water Partnership, European Water News, Accessed 6th January 2009
  15. European Water Partnership Activities Report 2007
  16. EWP Newsletter January 2008,
  17. EWP Newsletter January 2008,
  18. European Water Partnership Activities Report 2007, (Section 6 - Other Initiatives),
  19. European Water Partnership Activities Report 2007, (Section 6 - Other Initiatives),
  20. European Water Partnership Activities Report 2007, (Section 6 - Other Initiatives),
  21. European Water Partnership Activities Report 2007, (Section 6 - Other Initiatives),
  22. European Water Partnership Activities Report 2007, (Section 6 - Other Initiatives),