World Water Day: Joint Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius


In Europe and in the world, all minds are focused on actions to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus and mitigate the effects of the crisis. The European Union works on all fronts to support these efforts. The latest information can be found on the dedicated European Commission website. We take this opportunity to thank all those who are working tirelessly to contain the pandemic and care for those in need, anywhere in the world.

World Water Day 2020, on 22 March, is about water and climate change – and how the two are inextricably linked. On this occasion, we acknowledge the fundamental link between climate and the global water cycle. Extreme weather conditions erode the availability and quality of freshwater. Climate change increases competing demands on water use. In some regions, the growing water crisis can provoke political instability. This emergency also affects biodiversity and puts overall sustainable development progress at risk. We must adapt to the water effects of climate change to protect health and save lives.

Climate change is a global problem that requires a collective global response. The European Union is leading by example. In November 2019, the European Parliament declared a climate emergency. On 11 December 2019, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal. Its objective is to reconcile the economy with our planet by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities and decoupling economic growth from resource use. It is a roadmap for Europe to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050 while also tackling our environmental crisis, in particular pollution of air, water and land.

Using water more efficiently will reduce greenhouse gases. To better protect resources, including water, the European Union established a Just Transition Mechanism and a Circular Economy Action Plan to help EU Member States transition into a new way of producing and consuming. In addition, the EU supports numerous climate-related projects worldwide.

Safe drinking water is a human right. Safe drinking water must be available, sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible and affordable for all without discrimination. The right to safe drinking water is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. Water is not only a driver of social and economic development but also of peace and security, as its scarcity can lead to conflicts and mass displacement.

Despite progress, billions of people still lack access to safe water and sanitation. Achieving universal access to this right, ensuring available and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is the 6th Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as part the 2030 Agenda. Climate change is further challenging this objective. We must double our efforts. This is possible if we all act now. The EU is ready to play its part.

Xavier Cifre Quatresols
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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