Water is Life, yet over 1 billion people have no access to
safe drinking water and over 2 billion lack basic sanitation.
This is why leaders at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2002, called for
halving these numbers by 2015. In practical terms, this means
providing these essential services to 200 000 and 400 000 new
people per day until the end of 2015! The EU strongly supports
these goals and therefore, in Johannesburg, we launched the
EU Water Initiative together with Danish Prime Minister and
EU President in office, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
It is obvious that such ambitious goals on a global scale cannot
be achieved with conventional means, even with all the current
aid. Scientific knowledge and innovative approaches across policies
and their instruments are important for tangible headway towards
these goals. It will particularly require a great mobilisation
of partners ranging from governments, water agencies, water
users to civil society organisations and private enterprises.
Open co-ordination and co-operation at all levels from local
to international will be crucial.
The second thrust of the Initiative concerns the general adoption
of river basin-scale policy, planning and management, particularly
for transboundary catchments.
Within the European Union, we have already adopted this approach
with the EU Water Framework Directive. I am convinced that the
shared goals of inter-generational fairness, equitable use and
conservation of precious water resources offer ample opportunities
The European Union has been working on key issues related to
sustainable use of precious water resources, not only within
its own borders, but also in partnership with many research
teams, NGOs, governments and other actors in all partner countries.
It has actively participated in a variety of water-related fora
and initiatives. A large number of co-operation projects channel
knowledge and financial resources into addressing water problems
in many partner countries. Policy dialogue with several regions,
including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the
Mediterranean, is being reinforced concerning crucial water
and associated food security in the expectation of enhancing
the effects of on-going and future co-operation projects.
This website shows the European Commission’s work on issues
addressed by the Water Initiative and its commitment to pursue
its goals by partnering with others. The different Commissioners
involved in this subject, Philippe Busquin (Research), Poul
Nielson (Development), Chris Patten (External Relations) and
Margot Wallström (Environment) and their respective services,
have been particularly active in this endeavour and will continue
to invest in broadening these partnerships in the future.
President of the European Commission