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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Green Week opens in Brussels

Brussels, 22 May 2012 – Europe's largest environment conference kicked off today under the banner “The Water Challenge – Every Drop Counts”. This year's edition of Green Week is dedicated to water, and will see some 3000 participants gather for three days to discuss water-related issues. Stakeholders, NGOs, government representatives and EU officials will search for solutions to key water problems, like how to safeguard the availability of good quality water against a backdrop of rapid population growth and ever more apparent climate change. Organisations and companies will showcase best practices at a 52-stand exhibition, and numerous side events include screenings of the films “La Soif du monde”, "Oceans", and “Africa Turns Green”. The week also features the European Business Awards for the Environment, which honour innovative companies that successfully combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance, and the 3rd European Water Conference, a high-level stakeholder event.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Water is literally a vital resource and human activity is having an enormous impact on it. During Green Week I hope that the hundreds of experts and interested parties who are gathered here will help to develop both existing policies and new ideas so that this precious resource is safeguarded for us all."

A recent European Commission survey shows that seven out of 10 Europeans think that water-related problems are a serious concern. Pollution from point and diffuse sources, over-abstraction of water and alterations to rivers and lakes threaten efforts to achieve good status for European waters by 2015. Water-related natural disasters such as droughts and floods have become more frequent and severe in large parts of our continent, and their severity and frequency is expected to increase as a result of climate change and changes in land use. Green Week will present an overview of water-related EU policies, and consider how they should evolve to meet the challenges ahead.

The week's events will feed into the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources scheduled for November this year. As a step in the preparatory process for the Blueprint, Green Week is also hosting the 3rd European Water Conference, a platform for consultation and debate between a large number of water stakeholders, Member States and the European Commission. A live webcast will be available on the conference website. The Conference Programme can be found at:

The Blueprint, which has the long-term objective of ensuring the availability of good quality water for sustainable and equitable water use, will form the new EU policy response to the challenges surrounding water as a resource.


The 12th edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, will take place from 22 to 25 May 2012 in Brussels. Key speakers include:

  • Janez Potočnik, EU Commissioner for Environment

  • Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action

  • Ida Auken, Danish Minister for the Environment

  • Mark Mwandosya, Minister for Water and Irrigation, Tanzania

  • Maria Emily Lubega Mutagamba, Minister of Water & Environment, Uganda

  • Fritz Holzwarth, Deputy Director-General, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Germany

  • Angél Gurria, Secretary General, OECD

  • Michel Candotti, Principal Adviser to the Executive Director, UNEP

  • Igor Volodin, Chief of the Water Management Unit, UNIDO

  • Monica Scatasta, Deputy Economic Adviser, Water & Waste Management Division, European Investment Bank (EIB)

  • Staffan Nilsson, President of the European Economic and Social Committee

  • Tony Long, Director European Policy Office, WWF

  • Saskia Richartz, Director EU Oceans Policy, Greenpeace

  • Valérie Ndaruzaniye, President, Global Water Institute (GWI)

For more information:

To view the Green Week 2012 programme and follow the sessions live, see:

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)

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