European Commissioner for Environment
'Water democracy at work'
Ministerial conference (at the World Water Forum)
Marseilles, 13 March 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Forum is a unique example of 'water democracy at work'. Stakeholders worldwide can gather and discuss local, regional and global issues, share experiences and know-how, while identifying inspirational goals and targets.
So, let's make sure that these goals and targets do not remain in a sort of 'water silos' and that – when we all go home– we are in a position to push for water objectives to be placed at the centre of the political agenda.
As highlighted in our Declaration, water policy can be successful only if it becomes an integral part of other key policy areas such as agriculture, energy, transport and climate, to name just a few, and is mainstreamed into existing and innovative financial instruments. Now the question is, how do we achieve integration?
EU Water legislation focuses on the concept of 'river basin management' and puts the accent on integrated water resources management to achieve the ambitious objective of good status of all EU waters by 2015. I am pleased to see that this approach is also reflected in the Declaration we have just endorsed.
The integrated water resource management is also key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore the European Union will definitively do its utmost to promote it also at global level, in particular through its development cooperation policy.
Water is a global problem. It is our common concern. But unfortunately there is no "one size fits all" solution for the EU or the planet. Our responses need to be context specific. And I hope that the multi-level governance model put in place in the EU and the special attention we give to public consultation and participation can be inspirational to many.
Doubtless water is one of our most valuable resources. Be it at local or at international level, its management has to be sustainable. We have no other choice. It is our duty to promote an efficient use of water resources.
The forthcoming Rio+20 Conference will give us the chance to show our commitment. This will give us the chance to show how water policy offers growth and development prospects. The EU will propose water, in particular water efficiency, on the top of the already agreed activities for achieving water for all and sanitation water, to be one of the few top priority areas in which clear operational targets and concrete actions with agreed timeframes should be addressed at Rio.
I trust we will all bring these messages to the Rio Conference, along with the Declaration endorsed here, to reinforce political support for water policy in the global arena. It is time for solutions.
I thank you for your attention.