WWDR 2016 "Water and Jobs" at the European Parliament
On September 28, the UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2016 “Water and Jobs”, was introduced to the European Parliament during a public session organized by the MEP Water Group in cooperation with WWAP and the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels.
The session addressed the water jobs nexus, highlighting the enabling role of water for the European economy and labor market, and called decision makers’ attention to the negative impacts of water scarcity for the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of our society.
Opening the event, the Chair of the MEP Water Group Esther De Lange stressed “Today, our biggest challenge in Europe on water resources management, is to turn problems into opportunities”, to which UNESCO Assistant Director-General of Natural Sciences Flavia Schlegel added “Our message is clear today: investments in water create jobs.”
In effect, the WWDR 2016 highlights particularly the role of water as a driver for sustainable growth and job creation. Stefan Uhlenbrook, Coordinator of the UN World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO, stated “water is not only about the environment, it is also about societal development and the economy” and provided an example explaining that $1 million invested in water supply and sanitation in the United States creates 10 – 26 jobs and up to 100 jobs in Latin America.
Speaking about climate change, Ms. Schlegel urged the international community to “adapt, mitigate, innovate, and improve water management”. The WWDR 2016 strongly underlines that water resources are under pressure, exacerbated by the effects of a number of drivers, particularly by climate change. The projected shortage of water will call for the use of non-conventional sources of water, such as rainwater harvesting, recycled wastewater and urban runoff. Investments in adaptation measures and green solutions for water management will lead to the creation of indirect and induced jobs in a number of other related sectors.
Alexander Micovcin, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU, added that “sustainable water management lies at the heart of a circular economy”. The current Slovak EU presidency places great importance in putting and maintaining water high in the political EU agenda.
During the event, the discussion on how to put the topic of water at the forefront of the agenda was frequently highlighted. Giovanni Pugliese, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative, Italian Permanent Representation to the EU pointed out in particular that “New policy approaches are needed not only in relation to migrations. The humanitarian emergency has to be looked at as a whole: data show that 2 billion people still do not have access to safe water and 2.5 billion remain without access to improved sanitation.”
Finally, Mr Uhlenbrook underlined that “global risks of the future are largely water-related and investments into the sector support the creation of resilent societies”. Claire Pace, President of the European Youth Parliament for Water offered a voice of the youth: “Our planet has never been so young, with 1.8 billion young women and men. If we fail to cooperate between generations, we create a failed system”.
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