On 4 May 2015, a delegation of water sector organizations, including UNESCO-IHE, met with Mr. Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, to discuss collaboration between the European Commission and the European water sector to support the inclusion and achievement of the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable management of water, including universal access to drinking water and sanitation, is a key challenge for international cooperation and development and water is a cross-cutting theme among many policy fields such as food security, energy, climate change and extreme events.
Mr. Mimica said: “It is important to have water present as a stand-alone issue in the current formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals while at the same time acknowledge the important presence of water as transversal issue for many of the other SDGs”.
The ‘Key priorities for water under the Juncker Commission’, released in September last year, provided a basis for the discussion between Mr. Mimica and the water sector. Because of its transversal nature, water is well-placed to serve as a vector for the Commission’s ambition to cooperate “across portfolios to produce integrated well-grounded and well-explained initiatives”.
Participants also discussed the importance of technological and social innovative solutions, knowledge exchange, as well as partnerships and capacity development. Mr. Mimica agreed that the EU water sector actors, especially organizations such as UNESCO-IHE play a pivotal role in the international water arena and can serve as a catalyst for increased cross-sectorial cooperation, for example between international cooperation and research.
UNESCO-IHE is an active member of WssTP, the European Technology Platform for Water, and responsible for running a working group on international relations titled "Water Beyond Europe". A concrete follow-up of the meeting is that staff of the Commissioner will become an integral part of the working group led by UNESCO-IHE.
Over the next few weeks, various European water sector organizations will meet with other Commissioners to highlight the importance of water in their respective portfolios.
WssTP (Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform) is the European Technology Platform for Water. Initiated by the European Commission in 2004, WssTP strives to promote coordination and collaboration of Research and Innovation in the European water sector, improving same time its competitiveness. WssTP consists of 133 members and a network of more than 700 individuals from Industry, research, technology providers, policy makers and water users.