Youth water activists standing up for our rivers at EU Water Conference 2018

by Admin


From 20 to 21 September 2018, 400 delegates from all over Europe came to Vienna to discuss the future of water protection during a EU Water Conference hosted by the European Commission in cooperation with the Austrian government. The European Water Framework Directive, the major European water law, is under review and some groups are eager to use this as an opportunity to water down the legal protection of our water bodies. Therefore, the Youth Network for River Action attended the conference to send a clear youth signal: this can NOT happen. In fact, a recent report by the European Environmental Agency reveals the shocking truth: 18 years after the passing of the European Water Framework Directive, only 40% of Europe’s water bodies are in a good ecological state (more). A lot remains to be done to protect and restore our water!


Photo credit: Vincent Sufiyan


In preparation of the conference, volunteers of the Youth Network for River Action (YNRA) put down its demands in a Youth Water Manifesto prepared for the conference. As the basis of all protection is good law, the existing regulation protecting our rivers, lakes and wetlands, the Water Framework Directive, must not be weakened nor cut back. To the contrary, YNRA calls for a reinforced implementation at all levels!


Photo credit: Vincent Sufiyan


Right after the conference had started, YNRA activists handed over the Youth Water Manifesto to Veronica Manfredi, representing the European Commission, and to the Austrian Minister for the Environment Elisabeth Köstinger. Both expressed their support for water protection. Now it is on us to hold them accountable and remind them that they can´t possibly let down Europe´s water bodies, when the majority of them is in a bad ecological state!

For the lunch break, YNRA together with Generation Earth prepared a surprise for all conference participants. With over 90 participants, we performed the dance flashmob WATER BODIES. The creative approach worked: many conference participants immediately started filming and sending the images all over and several participants referred to the YNRA demands during question rounds and even on the panel! Watch the flashmob and spread it, preferably together with the Manifesto, so we can reach even more people:

For us it is clear: we do not inherit water from our ancestors, but we borrow it from future generations. Therefore, we urge you all to support our demand for upholding the strong legal protection by holding the politicians of your country accountable and by taking part in the public consultation from mid-October on. Stay tuned – more information to come soon!

Best greetings from Vienna,

Magdalena Prieler

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