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Today Commissioner Piebalgs will share the results of the European Water Initiative at the World Water Forum in Marseille. The 10th anniversary of the Initiative comes at the same time as the international community can celebrate that the Millennium Development Goal on sustainable access to drinking water has been achieved, five years before the deadline of 2015

...However, the remaining Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially sanitation, remain off-track and the EU will intensify its efforts to achieve the goals on time.

The EU funded Initiative is an international policy partnership that has helped to improve access to water across the world and to put water at the heart of development policies.

Overall, European action has already helped more than 32 million people to gain access to improved water supply and 9 million to sanitation facilities. Building on the achievements of the EU Water Initiative the EU will continue to support international cooperation and to promote innovative approaches reinforcing the link between water and other sectors such as agriculture and energy.

Ahead of the event, Commissioner Piebalgs said: “Providing access to water and better managing this scarce resource helps us to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. I am pleased to see that, also thanks to strong EU support, we have managed to achieve one of the first MDGs. However, much work remains to be done as still more than 3000 children die every day because they drink dirty water. We will continue our efforts on the water-related MDGs, building on the achievements of the EU Water Initiative so far."


Worldwide, around 780 million people still do not have access to clean drinking water. 330 million of these live in sub-Saharan Africa. The EU, as the world largest donor, leads the way to provide access to sanitation to most vulnerable people on the plant. In its recent "Agenda for Change" for development policy, the Commission stresses that new policies should tackle inequalities and in particular give poor people better access to land, water and energy without harming the environment.

The Millennium Development Goals related to water

The report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012, by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, says at the end of 2010 89% of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. This result passes the threshold of 88% that was set up as an MDG target. However, the sanitation MDG still remains off track with 63% of people having access to improved sanitation (against the aim of 75% by 2015).

EU actions on Water

One of the results of the first European Water Initiative is the creation of the EU-ACP Water Facility in 2004, a dedicated funding facility that has made €700 million available for water projects so far, in African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries. Alongside other European programmes, around €3 billion have been committed overall to activities related to water and sanitation projects between 2003 and 2010. During this period, the EU development assistance to the water and sanitation sector has almost tripled.

The European Union Water Initiative was launched in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002. The initiative involves the EU and partner regions (donors, governments, civil society and the private sector).

World Water Forum in Marseille

From 12-17 March 2012, the 6th World Water Forum, the largest international event in the field of water, will take place in Marseille, France. Every 3 years since 1997, the World Water Forum gathers thousands of stakeholders with the goal to bring water high on all political agendas.

Written by Scott Buckler
Monday, 12 March 2012 10:10

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