February 20 cities and regions from all across the EU came together at the Cities & Water Conference. During this conference the groundwork was laid for the European Urban Water Agenda 2030. This European Urban Water Agenda contains pressing water issues that cities need to resolve to guarantee a more secure future.
The chair of the day was special envoy for international water affairs for The Netherlands Henk Ovink. The Mayor of Leeuwarden, Ferd Crone, performed the opening of the conference together with European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. Crone highlighted the urgency of an agreement for water in European cities. Vella addressed the challenges and opportunities for European cities in the field of urban water management.
The plenary session continued with Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the European Environmental Agency, highlighted the urgency of water issues for cities and the need for integrated and systemic solutions. Aziza Akmouch, Head of the Water Governance Programme OECD, launched the Water Governance in Cities report by handing over the first report to Henk Ovink. This OECD report is, based on a study of 48 cities in 17 different countries, across all continents. The study was conducted to get a better understanding of the decision making, the institutional rules, implementation processes and the accountability for authorities to deliver what they promise.
After that 20 cities and four European Commission speakers highlighted their water challenges and solutions. During four parallel sessions the following topics where covered: water scarcity and water reuse; water quality and circular economy; sustainable financing of infrastructure; flooding and green infrastructures. During this sessions there was room to discuss about important topics in the field of water and the need to step up activities to make water fit for the future.
The day ended with the presentation of the input from the various parallel sessions, a reflection on funding opportunities and a discussion on how to take the next steps in addressing water issues in Europe. With this useful input the various parties can continue to work on the refining the European Urban Water Agenda 2030!