Water cooperation with the global South helps European regions – EURACTIV.com
According to stakeholders, decentralized cooperation for sustainable water and sanitation management between European regional and local authorities and their counterparts around the world is essential to help localize the Sustainable Development Goals.
“In the face of the urgency of the global climate crisis, many parts of the world are facing more frequent, severe and longer-lasting extreme weather events, changes in the water cycle and temperature, or a rise in sea level, putting the livelihoods and ecosystems of the EU’s main diplomat, Josep Borrell, and the head of the European Commission for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said in a joint statement a month ago on World Water Day.
“Based on our long experience in the management of transboundary waters, the EU strongly encourages and, where possible, directly supports increased cooperation and transparency in water governance at all levels,” they added. .
However, an often overlooked benefit of cross-EU border engagement between municipalities is how decentralized development cooperation can alleviate water stress at home, a growing problem in Europe.
Currently, only 40% of Europe’s surface water bodies have achieved good ecological status, data from the European Environment Agency revealed.
Vanesa Corrales Argumánez of Fons Mallorquí, the Mallorcan Solidarity and Cooperation Fund, said her organization was working on developing indicators to measure their contribution to achieving UN water targets.
However, their work in Bolivia and Burkina Faso has implications at home where the island’s freshwater supplies are limited.
“We share these measures and indicators with local authorities here in Mallorca,” said Argumánez, adding that the ultimate goal is to develop a common approach to water issues.
“It is also an old tradition of alliances that we are developing between local authorities and here in Mallorca and in the South,” she added.
There is much to learn, as often municipalities and regions in the South have more elaborate strategic plans than their European counterparts, often required by international aid institutions.
“Sometimes there is more eagerness to trade from the South than from the North,” she said, adding that the COVID pandemic has made maintaining international cooperation a more difficult priority for local authorities, as the he public health emergency has taken over the agenda.
This is why, argumánez stressed, raising awareness in the country of the fund’s activities abroad goes hand in hand with development cooperation.
“You have to show what you are doing to keep engagement with your actions,” she said.
Other regions of Europe have institutionalized development cooperation.
Since 2008, the Basque Country has allocated 5% of its water tax, paid after consumption of water which could have a negative environmental impact, to international solidarity in order to help alleviate water stress in partner countries.
The money collected through the tariff in recent years has contributed to the financing of the Basque country’s cooperation program in the field of water and sanitation with Costa Rica and El Salvador, which took place between 2018 and 2021. and cost 1.9 million euros.
“This program is distinguished by the use of peer learning and technical cooperation practices,” Paul Ortega, director of the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation, told EURACTIV.
The agency has already started planning the second phase of the program until 2024.
“With this initiative, the Basque subnational institutions intend to overcome the traditional pattern based on donor-recipient logic and evolve towards a different model in which public administrations play a more active role based on their own skills and expertise. ”Said Ortega.
“In recent decades, and in particular since the approval of the 2030 Agenda, subnational governments have gained in relevance as actors of development. Decentralized development cooperation agents are rethinking their roles in order to better contribute to global agendas, ”he added.
[Edited by Benjamin Fox]