B4.3.2 European Strategy on Water


The earth is a closed system – it rarely loses or gains extra matter. The same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still present today.


At the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (WSSD), the EU launched a Water Initiative (EUWI) designed to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and WSSD targets for drinking water and sanitation, within the context of an integrated approach to water resources management.

EUWI state that policies for sustainable development must address the need for equitable and sustainable management of water resources in the interests of society as a whole. The EU is committed to contribute to achieving international goals:

  • To reduce the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water and the proportion of people who do not have access to adequate sanitation.
  • To establish national water resource management plans.


The EUWI is based on a participative multi-stakeholder approach. Various strategic partnerships in specific regions draw together government, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders. A number of working groups has been established. Working groups have either a regional/thematic focus (e.g. Water Supply and Sanitation in Africa) or they concentrate on cross-cutting issues (e.g. Research, Finance). An advisory board and a steering group ensure coherence of all EUWI activities.

The main focus of the Water Initiative is to:

  • Reinforce political will and commitment to action.
  • Promote improved water governance, capacity-building and awareness.
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of water management through multi-stakeholder dialogue and coordination.
  • Strengthen coordination through promoting river basin approaches.
  • Identify additional financial resources and mechanisms to ensure sustainable financing.


The EUWI is an innovative attempt to focus increased attention on water-related issues, embracing a broad selection of stakeholder interests and concerns, for purposes of social and economic development and protection of the environment.

Further information is available on the following website: http://www.gwp.org/en/About-GWP/Publications/EU-Water-Initiative/ Protocol on Water and Health


The 1999 Protocol on Water and Health aims to protect human health and well being by better water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and by preventing, controlling and reducing water-related diseases. The Protocol is the first international agreement of its kind adopted specifically to attain an adequate supply of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for everyone, and effectively protect water used as a source of drinking water.


In the European part of the UNECE region alone, an estimated 120 million people, i.e. one person in seven, do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, making them vulnerable to water-related diseases, such as cholera, bacillary dysentery, coli infections, viral hepatitis A and typhoid. Cleaner water and better sanitation could prevent over 30 million cases of water-related disease each year in the region.


Further information is available on the following website:

UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe)