Reaching for the blue gold: interdisciplinary approaches to support water management

A new report by the European Policy Centre (EPC) summarises the results of the EPC Task Force on ´Blue Gold´, a two-year process involving EPC members and sector experts in a range of discussions on topics related to water management.

IEEP’s Patrick ten Brink was a member of the Task Force Steering Committee, together with a wide range of experts from universities, consultancies, think thanks, governmental bodies and NGOs. IEEP’s contributions to the report focused on the policy instruments available for sustainable water management, building on the Institute’s body of work on the socio-economic benefits of good water management, e.g. the TEEB Water and Wetlands report.

The report collects evidence to show how water is central to the functioning of ecosystems and essential to all aspects of socio-economic wellbeing, including agriculture, industrial production, health and sanitation. It also discusses the increasing pressures on water sources – including ecosystems responsible for maintaining these sources – at the local, regional and global level.

Finally, the report explores the role EU institutions can play in alleviating current pressures on water. Many dedicated instruments are available at the EU level to improve the management of water resources, including the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe´s Water Resources and the Water Framework Directive. Furthermore, other sectoral legislation, policies and programmes, such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Research and Innovation Policy, can also be of support.

The report concludes that much more could be done to use the EU’s internal and external policies to respond to the water challenge. There are several opportunities for developing smart and sustainable water practices, building on an interdisciplinary approach and creative institutional and policy solutions. The uptake of these opportunities is anticipated to result in increasing societal, environmental and politico-security benefits, and also in significant economic gains, including new business opportunities.

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