On Wednesday 28th of September, the MEP Water Group in cooperation with the UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) of UNESCO, UN-Water and the UNESCO Liaison Office organised a public session on ‘Water and Jobs’ at the European Parliament in Brussels. Based on the UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2016 “Water and Jobs”, produced by the UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) of UNESCO, the session addressed the water jobs nexus, with a range of high-level speakers and panellists adding their voices to the discussion.
Opening the session, Ms. Esther de Lange, President of the MEP Water Group, stressed out that “the only way to tackle the European challenges linked to water resources is to turn problems into opportunities”. According to the UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) 2016 “Water and Jobs”, ‘ three out of four jobs are water-dependent. This means, on one hand, that water scarcity and supply disruptions could limit economic growth potential and impact jobs in the future decades. On the other hand, it points out that investing in water is investing in jobs and contributing to European growth.
Stefan Uhlenbrook, Coordinator of the UN World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO, reminded the audience that “water is not only about the environment, it is also about social development and economy”. The WWDR 2016 particularly highlights the role of water as a driver for job creation, sustainable growth and greener economy.
Dirk Van der Stede, Managing Director of the Flanders/Belgium Knowledge centre Water (Vlakwa) indicated that Belgium is 4th poorest OECD country regarding water availability. In an attempt to put the topic of water at the forefront of the EU agenda, Antoine Saintraint, Policy Officer from EU Commission (DEVCO) emphasized that “The EU should support regional and continental integration efforts through partners’ policies in areas such as(…)cross-border cooperation on water, energy and security”.
All speakers concluded that investments in water infrastructures and ‘water jobs’ can generate positive returns and have a multiplier effect on job creation across all economic sectors. A lack of urgent and united action in water investments will leave the poorest behind. To download the full UN World Water Development Report 2016, please click here.