Input to the informal meeting of the Ministers of Environment and ministerial water conference, Bucharest, 20-22 May 2019

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15 May

The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) together with European Rivers Network, European Environmental Bureau, Wetlands International and WWF (i.e. the Living Rivers Europe coalition) submitted yesterday a letter to the ministers with views on some of the issues on the agenda of the forthcoming informal meeting of the Ministers of Environment and the ministerial water conference in Bucharest on 20-22 May 2019.

The ministers are urged to support maintaining the high level of ambition and the environmental objectives set in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and step up the efforts in the next river basin management cycle in 2021-2027 to bring our rivers, lakes and wetlands to the desired ecological state by 2027. 

The urgency to protect and restore our freshwater ecosystems and bend the curve of freshwater biodiversity loss has recently been highlighted in the global assessment report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which concluded that freshwater ecosystems are showing the highest rate of decline. 

Furthermore, as most marine litter, and much of the chemical pollution of the seas are brought by the rivers, also the seas will suffer if the WFD is not properly implemented, making it difficult, or impossible, to reach the ‘Good Environmental Status’ target set by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Coincidently, today the European Environment Agency published a press release “Contamination of European seas continues despite some positive progress”. 

Unsustainable industries, including industrial agriculture, hydropower, and coal mining, are lobbying for devastating changes to the EU water law [the WFD]. A new paper WEAKENING THE EU WATER LAW: INDUSTRY’S WISH LIST and a media release by Living Rivers Europe shows that, if ever put into effect, such changes would give these sectors the green light to undertake even more destructive activities, potentially causing havoc on our rivers and lakes. But, far from obliging these sectors to clean up their act, some Member States have compiled a strikingly similar wish list, raising serious questions as to where their true interests lie. 

Biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – is declining faster than at any time in human history. And the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)..More than half of our rivers are not in a healthy state as required by the Water Framework Directive. If our rivers are not brought into a healthy state the decline in biodiversity cannot be turned around. Strong forces want more hydropower plants in our rivers, which is bizarre. Those plants in place are having a devastating impact on the rivers and the life – or lack of life – in and around the rivers. More hydropower plants will deliver a negligible amount of electricity but deprive life and biodiversity”, said Mark Owen, Freshwater Policy Specialist at the EAA. 

More information on the Living Rivers Europe coalition is available here.
The letter sent to the Environment Ministers of EU Member States is available here

Press release available for download here.

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