Statement by the EWM following its meeting in Lyon

Lyon, April 4-6 2024

Water for all, Water for Peace. At its annual meeting, the European Water Movement reaffirms the public and democratic governance of this vital resource, to be preserved as a common good against any privatization, commodification, war and grabbing.

In front of environmental, social and political emergencies, natural patrimony and water resources must be preserved through prevention and protection. In the face of scarcity, drought and flooding, guarantee of water for everyone must have priority over excessive or illegitimate industrial or agricultural use. It’s imperative to restore disturbed/destroyed ecosystems, and the quality of water dramatically polluted by chemical inputs, PFAS, microplastics, among others. To this end support to the agro-ecological transition must be assured and strict measures must be adopted regarding the use and dumping of toxics.

Implementation of the human right to water and sanitation for all requires the exclusion of water from liberalization, commodification, financialization and grabbing. Governance of water must be public, transparent and participative, with an active role of citizens and workers. Supported and accompanied by public-public partnerships, it must assure affordability, quality of services and investment in infrastructures and maintenance to reduce network leakages.

Countries that are in the process of joining the EU, especially the Balkan ones, must not be sacrificial zones. Their water bodies are part of the European water system and must be preserved by the risk of devastating mining projects; EU neighborhood cannot be reduced just to a source of extraction of critical materials.

The European Water Movement is extremely concerned about the present state of war and crescendo of conflicts where water plays a key role. Water cannot be used as a geopolitical tool, or worse, as a weapon of war, as in Palestine, Syria-Iraq, Ukraine, Turkey and other regions. The European Water Movement reaffirms its unwavering support for these populations and their refugees. It asks for an immediate ceasefire on all fronts of war and joins the UN’s “Water for Peace” appeal.

It expresses also concern about the increasing militarization of the society and demand the stop and an active contrast to the criminalization and discrediting of movements defending the commons and fundamental rights and, more in general, of dissent and freedom of information and speech.

The above instances have been expressed in an open letter to the EU institutions, to the elected representatives and to the candidates in the next European elections, asking for an immediate resuming of the Water Resilience Initiative, articulated on such points.