On November 14, the European Commission adopted “A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources”, commonly known as the Blueprint. The Blueprint is made of 18 measures intended to increase the EU’s political efficiency in the field of water policy. These 18 measures were put forward after evaluation of the European legislative framework of water management through a procedure called Fitness Check. The Fitness Check identified inconsistencies, deficiencies and difficulties in implementing the Water Framework Directive (WFD ) adopted in 2000 as well as various associated policies (urban wastewater, nitrates, groundwater, flooding...). Most of the measures suggested by the Blueprint have to do with the economic and financial aspects.
The private shareholdings in the Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB) were bought back by the State of Berlin in late 2013. We wish to take this further and democratise both Berliner Wasserbetriebe and water policy as a whole, and so achieve transparent, socially just and environmentally sustainable water management in Berlin.
This demands a complete return of the formerly part-privatised company to ownership of the State of Berlin. To this end, the Berliner Wassertisch has drawn up a draft water charter for Berlin. Our intention is to develop this draft further by means of a broadly-based debate within society. We wish to bring together all the different areas of expertise on the subject of water in our city, and to invite Berlin’s population to actively participate. We regard the Berlin water charter as the basis for statutory regulations and as a guide for Berliner Wasserbetriebe.
Notes for the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit
There is a crucial, missing component in the both the current analysis of climate chaos and in the proposed solutions to it. Most climate academics and activists see climate chaos as almost solely the result of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as well as methane pollution from extractive industries and animal production. The solution to the crisis is to curb the creation of CO2 and other air pollutants and move to alternative and sustainable energy sources.
While I of course fully recognize and support the science behind this analysis and join with other climate activists in fighting the growth in fossil fuels, especially those coming from fracking and the tar sands of my own country, Canada, I do strongly feel that there is a missing piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed if we are to properly understand the true nature of the crisis. That missing piece is our abuse, mismanagement and displacement of water.
When it comes to water policy, the buzzword in the EU is water scarcity. By looking at this from a purely economic angle, when a product is scarce the price should go up. This would be the case if water were to be treated as an economic good, which the Blueprint reminds us of in the very first page. By defining our mismanagement and over-pollution of water bodies both above and under ground as water scarcity, it has provided an opportunity for industry to provide new high-tech solutions – desalination, waste water re-use technologies, bottled water in flood and drought relief zones. Instead of looking at holistic ways of managing our water in a sustainable manner through changing agricultural and energy production choices as well as overhauling the decision making process by integrating actual citizen participation, the Blueprint prescribes the same medicine which has been proven to fail before.