Water deficit resilience initiative in the face of drought and climate change

„odporność na deficyt wody”

The fact that recurrent and increasingly severe droughts and sudden flooding and waterlogging are to be expected has been talked about for years. But it is only now, as the effects of these extreme events are becoming increasingly burdensome for Europeans, that the European Commission is preparing to launch a “water resilience” (water scarcity) initiative.

Addressing water deficit resilience is high on the EU’s environmental agenda. The European Commission (EC), in its October 17, 2023 communication outlining its work plan for 2024, indicated that it will launch a non-legislative “water deficit resilience” initiative to ensure that EU citizens, nature and economies have access to water, while preventing catastrophic floods, water shortages and droughts.

Europe is currently battling waterlogging and flooding and drought

Progressive warming, along with rainfall and melting snow, is causing a lot of flooding, waterlogging and even snowmelt floods in some regions of Europe, and droughts in others. An example of this is some regions of Germany, Poland or northern France, which have recently been hit by severe flooding and waterlogging. The situation, if only in the case of our country, remains worrisome. Forecasts predict further downpours and snowstorms, which will be followed by even more warming, resulting in further increases in water levels in rivers, including exceedances of warning and alarm levels.

Meanwhile, the northeastern part of Spain is increasingly feeling the negative effects of climate change, primarily those related to water shortages and drought. Spanish media recently reported that the region’s water reserves, after 40 months with rainfall below the average of previous years, had fallen below 16 percent. David Mascort, Catalonia’s Minister for the Economy. climate, called the current situation the worst drought in Spain’s history, and the country’s residents are facing increasing water restrictions.

It’s time for concrete action! – EC “water deficit resilience” initiative

Faced with recurring water crises, the European Commission is taking steps to make countries more resilient to the deficit, both now and in the future.

On March 12, 2024. The EC plans to publish a new “water deficit resilience” initiative, along with a related document on climate change adaptation. The initiative is intended to contribute to identifying and assessing the best way to manage climate risk in all EU policy areas, including water policy. It will include a series of actions for immediate implementation and will initiate public debate on ways to lead to water deficit resilience. Part of this debate will take place as part of Green week, organized by the European Commission in Brussels on May 29-30, 2024.

Water shortages are as much a problem as the energy crisis

The commissioner for the Ministry of Agriculture. Environment Minister Virginijus Sinkevićius, outlining preliminary plans for a “water deficit resilience” water initiative, compared potential future water shortages to the energy shock that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He pointed out that the issue to be dealt with is access to drinking water and its transmission losses, as well as limiting the amount of resources taken. In addition, he reported that major users in the industrial, energy, transportation and agricultural sectors will need to join in so that water efficiency and resource conservation can be effectively integrated. The commissioner also referred to EU legislation under the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, pointing out that the environmental and resource costs of water supply, as a promotion of more efficient use of resources, have not been implemented sufficiently.

Virginijus Sinkevićius said in January this year, following a meeting of EU environment ministers, that prioritization of sectors to diversify water supply is not being considered, but an approach emphasizing the importance of water as a resource to be well managed and secured for future generations is being promoted.

At a meeting of EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in January 2024, Portugal proposed preparing a plan to reduce the European Union’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change on water resources, which could be called “RewaterEU.” for which public funds would be allocated to increase water security while guaranteeing access to water resources at reasonable prices. It was also pointed out that resilience to water scarcity and concern for water availability in the EU is probably the most important issue for the future of agriculture and food systems. The importance of courses of action such as storage, water distribution, effective management of reuse of resources, development and use of new technologies, including precision agriculture, proper water management planning and monitoring of resources was emphasized.

Is action at the EU level sufficient to prevent a global water crisis?

Resilience to water deficits is a challenge not only for the EU, but also for other regions of the world. Across the globe, the water cycle is unsustainable, closely linked to climate change and biodiversity loss. The effectiveness of flood risk reduction and drought prevention, including increasing “water deficit resilience,” will not be achieved without an integrated approach that takes into account all stakeholders, not only from the European Union, but from around the world.

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