2018 - AN IMPORTANT YEAR FOR WATER, AND AN IMPORTANT YEAR FOR EUROPE
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Organize a Big Jump or Riverwalk! Show your appreciation and stand up for our rivers and waters by organizing a Big Jump or Riverwalk on July 8th.
- Collect online signatures! This year, WWF and other organizations are going to try to collect 1 million signatures to show the EU politicians and decision-makers that this IS important to us - European citizens. Let’s set a goal of collecting 10.000 youth signatures across Europe. How many can you collect in your country? The Austria Genearation Earth Teams aims to collect 2500! The public consultation process for these signatures has been delayed by the EU - but now it is out and you can easily participate here.
- Join the Water Conference! From September 20-21, decision-makers from across Europe will meet in Vienna to discuss the Water Law and changes to it. We want to make our voices heard at the Water Conference. Show our presence at water conference with decision makers in Vienna in September (20.-22.) through the handout of our manifesto (get all youth organisations to sign) and flashmob. Would you like to join young Austrian river activis and other youth from across Europe? Please contact info [at] bigjumpchallenge.net and we will start a working group to plan our actions at the location of the conference.
- Send a message to the Conference! Collect water (with your decision-makers) and send it to Vienna! We want to send a strong message to them to protect our water! You can collect water samples from a local river, lake, or water body and send it to the conference. Even better, invite a decision-maker, who will attend the meeting in Vienna, to collect it with you. Try to arrange a media event (paper, radio, TV) and tell them how important it is to protect our rivers and water.
- Start your own action! Do you have a great idea to get active? Let us know how you can support the EU Water Law! Send an email to info [at] bigjumpchallenge.netor post it our on facebook page (see button above).
Photo: Youth Network for River action activists bring water from their rivers to the European parliament in Brussels.
Why it is important to protect our waters?
Rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater are the foundation for life. However, they are also threatened by high human pressures: from agriculture, industry, transportation, urban sprawl and development. Water quality is impacted by various sources of pollution such as fertilisers and pesticides from agriculture, runoff from streets and parking lots, and industry and waste water (we use drinking water to flash our toilets!).
Furthermore, natural, free-flowing and healthy rivers are rarely encountered in Europe (more on wild rivers here). They have been altered through by dams for hydropower, rivers straightened for streets and highways, and/or regulating, restricted for agriculture, and channeled in the name of flood protection. These disruptions threaten river continuity and the connection to surrounding ecosystems: fishes and biodiversity suffer because of restrictions in movement, flood protection must be maintained artificially, and the changes in sediment movement (material rivers normally carry) have a huge impact on river systems and habitats. To renaturalize our waters and ecosystems and protect the few left intact ones, major efforts are needed.
What is the law protecting European rivers and lakes all about?
To restore the water bodies and to set a legal frame to improve and ensure the river and water situation the EU introduced the WFD (water framework directive). It requires governments to monitor their waterbodies and if they are in a poor quality to restore them. Furthermore, it protects the most natural and cleanest waters from being polluted, changed, or deteriorated. Even though this piece of law is comparably progressive and sets standards, it’s not perfect - one of the biggest problems is that governments aren’t properly implementing it!
On top of that, the EU will review the law and plans a 2-year fitness-check of the directive, which gives big business and lobbyists, such as hydropower, chemical companies, wastewater plants, and other industries and backward pollution-friendly national governments the opportunity to weaken and water down the WFD. This would be deadly for our waters, lifeforms who depend on them, and especially us, humans, who are highly dependent on water in every form: from drinking water to recreation (kayaking, fishing, swimming, etc.)
It’s our turn to stand up for rivers! JOIN US NOW and make a difference!