Blog.Mar 12, 2024

There is no resilience in Europe without a water-resilient Europe

Last month, the European Commission decided to hold on the awaited Water Resilience Initiative. SIWI and other organizations are joining forces to advocate for Europe to keep its engagement.

A realistic image of the earth from space at night with light emissions from large urban areas and atmospheric haze. The center of the view is Europe. The image is a rendered 3d scene.Photo: Intrepix / Shutterstock

March 12 would have been a memorable day

March 12 would have been a memorable day in paving the way for a more resilient, equitable, comprehensive and transformative way of managing our shared and fragile water resources in Europe.

On this day, during the EU Belgium’s Presidency Water Conference , and just 10 days before World Water Day, the European Commission was going to present the much awaited and needed Water Resilience Initiative (WRI). Unfortunately, less than one month before the launch of the Water Resilience Initiative, Commissioner von der Leyen decided to put it on hold.

In reaction to this, SIWI joined forces with Water Europe, and other members and partner organizations, and launched a campaign to ensure that the European Commission continues to prioritize and delivers on a Water Resilience Initiative. Thirty (30) European based organizations from different sectors (water, energy, food, construction,.) representing the profit and non profit sector have asked to secure and ensure that the Water Resilience initiative comes to fruition and is ‘a first step towards an ambitious water strategy for Europe.’

Europe’s vision for 2050

Initially, President von der Leyen indicated that the “WRI aims to launch a reflection and will identify key challenges and opportunities for action towards ensuring that in 2050, global society will be water resilient, offering water security for all. This entails the protection and restoration of aquatic ecosystems, and a fair balance between water supply and water demand responding to current needs, including the realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, without compromising the rights of future generations.” Thereby, the initiative intends to translate the EU vision for 2050 Water into a strategic approach, including a list of EU short/medium/long-term actions. A strong communication plan and many events were planned around this initiative during the upcoming EU Green Week. This Water Resilience Initiative would also highlight why water is essential to the realization of the Green Deal and is vital to a strong and thriving Europe… some even speak of a Blue Deal. We hope that this decision is one that, as the French would say, enables to ‘Reculer pour mieux sauter’!

Hence, a letter has been addressed to Ursula von der Leyen, President, Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President and Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries at the European Commission, reiterating that the Water Resilience Initiative could provide a framework that reduces the risks of competition over our shared and strategic water resources among all European socio-economic actors. It would also secure enough water of the right quality at the right time. A key factor in reducing climate risks in Europe as announced by the very first European Climate Risk Assessment (EUCRA) published by EEA (European Environment Agency). In addition, the WRI would enable us to become more water efficient, a key asset for European competitiveness and strategic autonomy.

The strategic importance of water

We also recalled that during the last five years, the European institutions have proactively updated the European water acquis to align with the new challenges that we are facing. There has been a broad consensus between the different European Member States and institutions that highlights the need for a coherent and comprehensive water strategy. The European Council, in two resolutions in 2021 and 2023, highlighted the “strategic importance of water and the need to act”. The European Council also voted on comprehensive and bold water commitments and submitted them to the UN 2023 Water Conference.

2024 is also a critical year with the upcoming elections of the European Parliament in June and the nominations of new Commissioners, which will influence EU’s overall new priorities for 2025-2030. At SIWI, we will follow this campaign and hope for a broader mobilization of all stakeholders in order to keep water high up on the agenda. To join us in this endeavor, a first step would be to share the letter within your networks and especially towards your Member State and your relevant EU institutions, as well as the newly elected deputies. It is essential that water is at the core of the EU’s new priorities and in the implementation of its 2050 Vision, since there is no resilience in Europe without a water-resilient Europe.

Let´s ensure that the EU’s future will be paved in Blue.

Read the letter

This letter emphasizes the indispensable need for a water-resilient Europe in light of the escalating pressures on the continent's freshwater resources, intensified by the impacts of climate change

Read the letter


  • Aquafed
  • AquaItalia
  • Aqua Publica Europea
  • AmCham
  • BWF
  • CDP Europe
  • CEIR
  • Copa-Cogeca
  • Danish Water Forum
  • Dansk industri
  • Earthwatch
  • EBA
  • EFCA
  • EurAqua
  • EurEau
  • European Youth Parliament for Water
  • EWA
  • EU-ASE
  • FIEC
  • Portuguese Water Partnership
  • Polish Federation of Entrepreneurs
  • Green Cross France
  • Hydropolitics Association Türkiye
  • SGI Europe
  • Solar Impulse Foundation
  • Stockholm International Water Institute – SIWI
  • Women Water Partnership
  • Water Europe