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Water is Everyone's Business

Safeguarding the Water Framework Directive to ensure clean and available water in Europe

Holding globe in two hands over water

Standing together with 20 other companies including The Coca-Cola Company, Heineken and Dupont, Ecolab has signed a joint statement in support of the EU Water Framework Directive, which is one of the most advanced water legislation globally aiming to ensure clean and available water in Europe through river basin management. This legislation is at the heart of the local-global debate when it comes to water management solutions. 

As a global leader in water technology and services globally, Ecolab is committed to raising water to the top of the global climate agenda. Beyond needing to protect water as the precious natural resource it is, there is a strong link between water and energy efficiency. Water savings lead to energy savings, and both contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We are already facing water scarcity in many regions, some closer to home than we think, which jeopardizes societal and economic development. We have not only been working with customers to implement smart water management practices, but we have also tirelessly partnered with other organizations to encourage collective water stewardship action. 

Since 2016, we have engaged in conversations with like-minded companies, the European institutions and NGOs, raising awareness about the need to tackle water horizontally in a number of policies. These include not only the EU water legislation as such, but also dossiers related to energy efficiency, industrial emissions, the digital agenda, and agriculture. 

As part of this holistic and collaborative approach, and as part of my role leading Ecolab’s Government Relations efforts in Europe, I am happy to share that we have co-signed together with 20 other companies WATER IS EVERYONE’S BUSINESS, a statement calling for the preservation of the EU Water Framework Directive in its current form. This is in line with the NGO-led #Protectwater campaign, advocating for the preservation of this Directive during its review phase against any potential attempt to water it down.  

Recognizing the leading role of the EU in the environmental agenda, we are currently focusing our efforts on demonstrating the untapped potential of water to contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal, namely to attain a climate-neutral continent by 2050, and to transform European economies into circular models.  

The Water Framework Directive has been essential to ensuring that freshwater ecosystems in Europe are protected and restored. The idea is that water is sustainably managed through local river basins across the globe. Since its adoption in 2000, the framework has served as a guide for businesses, which depend on the social and environmental stability that healthy rivers provide.  

We continue to see great opportunities and challenges in how we manage our freshwater resources. Businesses across Europe depend on water to operate and grow. The availability of quality freshwater is not just critical to consumers, it also represents stability, prosperity, and peace for our society and economy. This indispensable resource cannot be wasted. Water is a finite resource, and if demand continues to grow as sharply as the United Nations projections suggest, we will face a 40 percent freshwater shortfall by 2030. Contrary to what some may think, Europe is not exempt from that trend, which carries a hefty price tag. The European Commission found that more than 10 million people live in areas at risk of extreme floods along the Rhine alone; the potential damage from floods in this region amounts to €165 billion.   

From floods to forest fires and droughts, water stress will only increase in the future, as we saw last summer across Europe. Water stress poses a real threat to businesses across the region that rely on water to produce, clean, heat, cool, and create energy. At Ecolab, we believe that as a society we cannot lower our ambition and that we need to continue to uphold stringent water protection standards. Any potential reopening of the Water Framework Directive, or of any other water-related legislation for that matter, needs to meet certain conditions to ensure that the debate will lead to stronger legislation. We cannot stop efforts made by governments, businesses, and communities to ensure efficient water management. The current EU’s Water Framework Directive is part of a toolkit to safeguard and restore all European waters by 2027, and therefore needs to be preserved. 

About the Author

David Martin, Ecolab

David Martin

Ecolab VP Market Head FR and BE & VP Government relations Europe

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