25.05.2018 - Natural Sciences Sector

Public session on the WWDR 2018 at the European Parliament


The World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO and the MEP Water Group co-organized a public session on the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2018 ‘Nature-Based Solutions for Water’ on the 22nd of May from 13h00 to 15h30 at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The WWDR2018 demonstrates how nature-based solutions (NBS) offer a vital means to address many of the world’s water challenges, while simultaneously delivering additional benefits vital to all aspects of sustainable development. The main policy messages and findings from the report were presented during the public session, followed by a high-level panel discussion.

The public session was opened by Paul Rübig, Member of the European Parliament within the Group of the European People's Party, Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative to European Institutions on behalf of the UNESCO Director General and of the Chair of UN Water, and Atanaska Nikolova, Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Government of Bulgaria.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Uhlenbrook, Coordinator of the UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) provided insights from the latest WWDR report. He presented a broad overview of its research findings such as NBS’s potential for managing water availability in terms of building new innovative and natural ways of water storage, managing water quality, water-related risks and stabilizing water variability and changes. Prof. Uhlenbrook stressed also on the fact that despite attention to NBS has increased worldwide over the past few years, increasing the uptake of NBS remains difficult.

During the panel discussion: “Learning from nature to achieve and support sustainable development”, Ms. Chantal Marijnissen head of Unit Environment, Natural Ressources and Water, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), highlighted the European Union’s four main priorities: Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership. Introduced with the European New Consensus on Development the four priorities are aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and they represent the framework of action for development cooperation for the European Union and its Member States. Ms. Marijnissen added that SDG6 - Clean Water and sanitation for all - is a focal sector in EU cooperation activities with 13 countries, several of which are in Africa.

The panel discussion foresaw also the contribution from Mr. Victor Beumer from the the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WssTP), Ms. Julie Delcroix from the European Commission Directorate General for Reasearch and Innovation (DG RTD), and Ms. Patricia Ragazzo from VERITAS SPA.

The public session was closed by Member of the European Parliament Ms. Miriam Dalli, Vice-Chair of European Parliament Water Group, who stressed on the importance of making water sustainability part of the political agenda. She also highlighted the need of changing people’s attitude and outlook towards water and its value for all humankind.

On the 23rd of May, Prof. Uhlenbrook and MEP Miriam Dalli engaged in a discussion at the voxbox of the European Parliament delving deeper into Natured based solutions for water and the EU legislative framework of action to achieve SDG6. 

This article is based on the news from the UNESCO Liaison Office Brussels

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