Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Waste management and circular economy

Clean and circular water - 09.06.2021

Make water circular again!
CEMR and Eurocities held a joint event on clean and circular on Monday (7 June) as an official partner event of European Green Week. This was an opportunity for lively exchanges between experts from international organisations and local elected officials actively working on sustainable water management in their constituencies.

Oriana Romano, head of unit for water governance and circular economy in cities at the OECD, spoke on the urgent need to take action on water issues, particularly given the ever-growing populations of urban areas.

The solutions on water management are often eminently local, as was apparent from the interventions of Mayors Filippe Aujo of Porto (Portugal) and Marieke Schouten of Nieuwegein (Netherlands). The local leaders highlighted the actions taken in their cities on water quality, the treatment of wastewater and flooding events.

In sight: reform of the EU's directive on urban wastewater

Carla Chiaretti of EurEau, the association representing water services, recalled the need to tackle pollutants and microplastics present in water by including related objectives in upcoming European legislation.

Indeed, these are some of the issues at stake in the reform of the EU's Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD), as presented by Nele-Frederike Rosenstrock, policy officer in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV).

CEMR will contribute with its own perspectives and key messages to the public consultation closing on 21 July on the reform of the wastewater directive.

Sari Rautio, chair of the municipal council of Hämeenlinna (Finland) and CEMR spokesperson on environment, recalled some of these positions: "The revision of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive should provide incentives to develop and  implement climate-neutral waste water management in line with the Green Deal objectives, encourage circularity of resources, support nature-based solutions, help manage water flows in urban areas, encourage digitalisation and adopt measures that contribute to reduce waste water."

Given that local governments are responsible for the quality of water services and, thereby, the health of citizens, their involvement will be crucial for the effective achievement of the zero pollution action plan of which the wastewater directive is part. CEMR will continue its advocacy work to ensure the strategic position local governments on water policies is fully recognised, notably with regard the directive proposal expected in early 2022.
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