Overview of EU Water Legislation and the IWRM Concept

The EU environmental legislation is mainly dominated by directives and second by regulations. A directive is a legal act that requires all member states to achieve particular results, by giving a specific degree of freedom during the implementation process. On the other hand, regulations are self-executing and do not require any implementation measures. During the implementation process of directives and based on economic tools, such as the cost-benefit analysis approach, a set of programs of measures is produced. These measures aim to protect the environment and to try to ameliorate already affected and degraded areas.

EU Water-Related Directives

The hallmark for sustainable water management in the EU is the Water Framework Directive (WFD) 2000/60 (EC, 2000). It represents the most sustainable approach to water management throughout the EU water legislation, promoting a shift from various fragmented policies to a comprehensive approach. This is conducted by integrating all parts of the wider environmental system (Howarth, 2006) with the ultimate goal of achieving a good status of all EU waters. The integration of sectoral policies and targeted directives is important to achieve both sustainable water management and climate change adaptation.

In addition to the WFD, there are five water directives to ensure the good status of Europe’s waters, namely the Urban Wastewater Directive (UWWD) 91/271/EEC, the Bathing Water Directive (BWD) 2006/7/EC, the Drinking Water Directive (DWD) 98/83/EC (the so-called 'Water Industry Directives’), the Nitrates Directive (ND) 91/676/ EEC, and the Groundwater Directive (GD) 2006/118/EC, 2014/80/EU, Figure 2.1. Complementary to the above directives are also the Priority Substances Directive 2013/39/ EU and the Environmental Quality Standards Directive 2008/105/EC.

Other EU legislation such as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and the Industrial Emission Directive 2010/75/EU (IED) address different aspects of water and water use, which are interrelated (EUrEAU, 2017).

The Water Framework Directive 2000/60

The Water Framework Directive provides a framework for a common EU water policy by imposing environmental objectives to be achieved. It provides a set of instruments and procedures to analyze the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of current water uses and to develop measures aimed at securing the sustainable use of all water resources in Europe. The River Basin Management Plan is a derivative of the WFD strategic planning document that provides the necessary information and operational guidance for integrated water management within a river basin.

One of the innovations of the specific directive is the prediction of increased public participation in the water resource management process and the special emphasis on the economic assessment of potential measures to achieve a good water status. To cope with the increasing complexity of today’s water management, new institutions, economic

The principal EU water-related EU directives

Figure 2.1 The principal EU water-related EU directives.

instruments, and social awareness are important to reach sustainability levels. However, it should be mentioned that WFD does not directly imply actions for climate change adaptation. To sum up, it could be said that the WFD promotes the following 3P$:

  • • Planning and integrated management
  • • Pricing and true cost recovery
  • • Participation and improved decision making on the river basin scale

The Urban Wastewater Directive

The Urban Wastewater Directive sets out the minimum technical infrastructure needed in sewage networks and sewage treatment plans to be provided by EU cities and towns depending on their equivalent population. The water recipients in which the wastewater falls are divided into three categories, namely normal, sensitive, and less sensitive. It also defines the maximum acceptable limits of the quality characteristics of treated wastewater to be achieved at the effluents of wastewater treatment plants. Moreover, it gives specific time limits (timetable implementation) within which the settlements, which fall under its provisions, must complete the design, collection, treatment, and disposal of urban wastewater taking into consideration both normal climatic conditions and seasonal variations. Monitoring guarantees that accurate data and reports are available for immediate access of information to operators and citizens on the collection, treatment, and disposal of urban wastewater.

The Nitrates Directive

The Nitrates Directive was issued for the protection of surface and groundwater resources against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (91/676/EEC). The directive requires member states to apply agricultural action program measures throughout their whole territory or within discrete nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZs). It introduces environmental standards (80/778/EEC) and measures for water quality contained in the Code of Good Agricultural Practice (fertilizers, animal manure, etc.). The directive has a 4-year cycle, i.e. each member state should produce reports on the implementation of the directive every 4 years.

The Groundwater Directive

This directive establishes specific measures to prevent and control groundwater pollution. These measures include in particular the following: (i) criteria for the assessment of good groundwater chemical status and (ii) criteria for the identification and reversal of significant and sustained upward trends and for the definition of starting points for trend reversals. The Groundwater Directive also complements the provisions preventing or limiting input of pollutants into groundwater already contained in Directive 2000/60/EC and aims to prevent the deterioration of the status of all bodies of groundwater. The latest version sets more vigorous limits and inserts monitoring data compliance with the WFD.

The Bathing Water Directive

This directive aims to interrelate bathing water and its potential impacts on water quality. As a derivative of the directive, the quality of coastal waters that are used for bathing purposes is monitored and the water quality in terms of indicator bacteria, i.e. total and fecal coliforms and more recently Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci, is routinely analyzed. The management of bathing waters should also be coordinated with other relevant water directives, especially the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the Urban WasteWater Treatment Directive.

Complementary Directives for sustainable water resources management

Apart from the above-mentioned directives, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC (MSFD) and the Floods Directive 2007/60/EC (FD) support the protection and sustainable management of water in Europe.

From the adoption of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in 2008, member states are obliged to develop specific strategies to protect, conserve, and monitor the marine environment, to prevent degradation, or, whenever is possible, to restore marine ecosystems in areas where they have been adversely affected. For doing so, member states should also establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to achieve and maintain the good environmental status of marine waters. The specific directive is in line with the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive.

The Flood Directive (FD) complements the WFD on integrated protection and sustainable management of water resources since it deals with flood phenomena. It was adopted at the EU level and later on ratified in national legislation of member states to confront the high risk of floods as it was recognized that the management of flood risks is a crucial component of climate change adaptation. The aim of FD is the creation of Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs), where specific measures and actions for minimizing potential human, cultural, economic, and environmental losses are depicted. The importance of this directive could be highlighted with the use of financial figures since one-third of economic losses in EU comes from climatological events (Lara et al., 2010), whereas damage across the EU caused by floods, from the combined effect of climate and economic changes, is projected to rise from €7 billion (1981-2010) to €20 billion by the 2020s and to €46 billion by the 2050s (European Court of Auditors, 2018).

Apart from the important water-related directives at the EU level, the coupling of these directives with climate change is of particular importance. Thus, the question of to what extent the EU water legislation and policy enhances resilience in adaptation to climate change is tried to be answered in the following section.

Policy, Measures, Programs, and Adaptation Actions in the EU

Examples of adaptation measures, such as the more efficient use of water resources and the grey water reuse, or the enforcement of buildings’ profile against future climate conditions and extreme weather events, or the construction of flood defense structures, or the plantation of drought-tolerant crops, demonstrate the simplicity of bottom-up approaches that could be conducted against the impacts of climate change. However, to achieve this type of knowledge and be able to easily provide this type of response in issues related to climate change adaptation, intense bottom-up and top-down approaches for the dissemination of knowledge, good practices, and toolkits related to adaptation are required. In the following section, the EU adaptation strategy, programs, and initiatives as well as international and EU actions are synoptically but comprehensively presented.

Roadmap to the EU Strategy on Adaptation

Until 2005, the EU climate policy mainly focused on mitigation (Biesbroek et al., 2010). From that point forward, the EU also started paying appropriate attention to adapt to the potential climate change impacts (EEA, 2005). At the same time, adaptation was the objective of one of the seven working groups of the Second European Climate Change Program (ECCP II) (EU, 2005). Two years later, the EU published a Green Paper focusing on adapting to climate change in Europe as well as identifying the case for action and policy responses in the EU (2007). The Green Paper, amongst others, considered the significant role of regional and local authorities in any efficient adaptation strategy and examined the application of the proposed EU adaptation measures to other parts of the world since the adaptation challenge is an international issue.

As a follow-up, the publication in 2009 of a White Paper entitled “Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action” laid the ground for the current EU strategy on adaptation (EU, 2009) and set the framework for reducing the vulnerability of the EU to climate change impacts. Hereafter, the evidence that climate change will lead to significant economic and social impacts is considered as a fact, and thus, a more holistic approach, i.e. fostering cooperation among different sectors and levels of governance, is required for ensuring that timely and effective adaptation measures will be adopted. The time window between the White Paper and the EU adaptation strategy was utilized for the preparatory work of the latter. The work was related to (i) the construction of a knowledge base, since no safe and sound decisions can be made without reliable data and associated socio-economic assessment of the impacts of climate change, (ii) the integration of adaptation to EU key policy areas, i.e. in each area, the adaptation potentiality should be reviewed, (iii) the implementation of policy instruments for supporting the integration process, for example, by using the revenue generated by the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system (ETS) for adaptation purposes, and finally (iv) the enforcement of international cooperation on adaptation, such as in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where the EU is a fundamental member, and the EU will continue to promote the integration of adaptation into national development plans.

The EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, launched in 2013, encouraged all EU member states to adopt comprehensive adaptation strategies (EU, 2013a). The adaptation strategy has three objectives and eight actions allocated in the objectives. [1]

level by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. For that purpose, the EU provides financial and technical support for adaptation through either the LIFE[2] instrument or other financial programs, such as the INTERREG 2014— 2020 program that focuses on the regional authorities of transnational regions (Ramieri et al., 2018). At the municipal level, based on the Covenant of Mayors initiative [3], which is an initiative that invites administrative structures such as cities/ towns to commit themselves to reduce voluntarily the greenhouse gas emissions within their territories (Christoforidis et ah, 2013), the EU supports adaptation by launching a voluntary commitment to adopt local adaptation strategies and awareness-raising activities.

  • 2. Promotion of better-informed decision-making. This second objective sets compact knowledge as the driver for pushing innovation forward and supporting the market deployment of innovative and modern technologies. The different knowledge gaps in adaptation that are identified will be addressed with funding from the Horizon 2020, the EU’s 2014-2020 framework program for research and innovation. Moreover, the European Commission together with the European Environment Agency (EEA) continues to support the European Climate Adaptation Platform[4] (Climate-ADAPT) as the official platform for adaptation information in Europe. Special attention should be given to cost-benefit assessments of different policy experiences and innovative funding, via closer interaction with regional and local authorities and financial institutions.
  • 3. Promotion of adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. During the implementation of the framework introduced by the White Paper of 2009, adaptation was introduced in selective sectors such as marine waters, inland waters, forestry, transport, biodiversity, and migration and mobility. Thus, adaptation in key vulnerable sectors aims at legislative proposals on integrating adaptation in agriculture and forestry, maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management, energy, disaster risk prevention and management, transport, research, health, and the environment. In particular, the facilitation of the climate-proofing of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the Cohesion Policy, and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) forms part of this objective. Moreover, the surety of more resilient infrastructure regarding energy, transportation, and constructions constitutes part of the objective.

In 2018, the European Commission launched an evaluation of the strategy (EC, 2018d). It assessed the implementation process in relation to its three objectives and the eight actions in different policy sectors at local, national, and transnational levels. The evaluation examines the direct results of the strategy, e.g. how and to which extent adaptation has been mainstreamed into EU financing of projects, and not the activities triggered by those results. For the evaluation process, a methodology based on criteria such as relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, and EU added value was applied (EU, 2017). Relevance investigates the relationship between the needs and problems in the society and the objectives of the intervention. Effectiveness is related to the extent to which different options would achieve the objectives, while the benefits versus the costs constitute the efficiency criterion. Coherence corresponds to how well the adaptation strategy fits together with other relevant EU legislation and policies, or similar initiatives at an international, national, or regional level, and identifies the gaps or potential overlapping. Finally, EU interventions that are additional to the value that would have been gained from regional or national actions are the so-called EU added value. The latest evaluation of the EU strategy is presented later on in the chapter.

The EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is another significant approach of the EU climate policy (Pietrapertosa et al., 2018). It was launched after the adoption of the “2020 EU Climate and Energy Package” in 2008, aiming at endorsing and supporting the efforts of local and regional authorities to implement EU climate and energy objectives and policies (Reckien et al., 2018). The aims of the 2020 package were the following: (i) 20% cut in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in comparison to the 1990 levels, (ii) production of 20% of EU energy from renewables, and (iii) 20% improvement in energy efficiency. Focusing on adaptation, the EU launched in 2014 the Covenant of Mayors Initiative on Climate Change Adaptation (Mayors Adapt) as a global multi-stakeholder movement that supports the EU adaptation policies. Mayors Adapt invited local and regional governments to demonstrate leadership in adaptation by supporting them in the development and implementation of local adaptation strategies. In 2015, both aforementioned initiatives were merged in a new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. Because of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 2015), the goals and direction of the new Covenant of Mayors were more ambitious and stricter than the ones proposed in 2008. Thus, the new Covenant of Mayors asks signatories to prepare Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs), as well as to initiate actions to achieve 40% reduction of GHG by 2030 and the adoption of a joint approach for tackling mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. In 2016, the new Covenant of Mayors joined with the Compact of Mayors, a similar initiative that was supported by the United Nations (UN). The resulting “Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy” is the largest movement of local governments committed to going beyond their national climate and energy objectives. Moreover, the aim of the Global Covenant of Mayors is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

International and European Adaptation Actions

During the past two decades, actions both at an international and a European level, methods, and practical tools have been developed to facilitate the integration of environment and climate change in projects and programs of developing countries. In most of these actions, the EU and its member states are actively involved. What is more important is to further utilize the gained experience from past pilot areas. The Advancing Capacity to Support Climate Change Adaptation (ACCCA) program, for example, which is coordinated by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), is based on experiences in countries affected by climate change and focuses on

(i) the communication of climate risk information to decision-makers in clear terms,

  • (ii) addressing climate risks and adaptation in an integrated, multidisciplinary way, and
  • (iii) bringing together stakeholders from scientific and policy communities.

The EU is an active partner in international efforts to confront climate change under the UN climate convention. In 1992, in particular, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was nominated as the main international treaty on fighting climate change. The objective of the UNFCCC was to prevent dangerous man-made interference in the global climate system. The EU, as well as all the member states, ratified the convention. Since then, a series of meetings have been conducted, with the UNFCCC’s top decision-making body conducting the annual Conference of the Parties (COP). In the Cancun UNFCCC Conference in 2010, where the homonym Adaptation Framework was established, it was decided to strengthen adaptation action in the areas of water resources, health, agriculture, food security, infrastructure, socio-economic activities, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, and coastal zones. In 2015, during the COP21 in Paris, all UNFCCC Parties agreed on the first-ever legally binding global climate agreement.

Another significant initiative is the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) that was launched in 2008. Coordinated by the EU, the GCCA tries to assist vulnerable developing countries in fight against climate change. Through the GCCA, more than 70 projects of national, regional, and worldwide scope in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) and the Feast Developed Countries (FDCs) have been implemented as resilience to climate change (LDC Expert Group, 2012). The GCCA also supports the countries to fulfill their commitments derived from the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP21), in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the new European Consensus on Development. Through this initiative, a GCCA+ index, which is based on a set of 35 indicators, has been developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission’s science and knowledge service in order to evaluate the vulnerability of a country to the impacts of climate change. Since 2008, the budget for supporting actions has been approximately 0.75 billion Euros.

An important UN initiative coordinated by the United Nations Development Program (UN DP) is the UNDP Climate Change Adaptation. UN DP’s climate change adaptation supervises six programs to support vulnerable communities in building resilience to climate change. These programs focus on (i) supporting integrated climate change strategies, (ii) advancing cross-sectoral climate-resilient livelihoods, (iii) ecosystem-based adaptation, (iv) fostering resilience for food security, (v) climate-resilient integrated water resource and coastal management, and (vi) promoting climate-resilient infrastructure and energy. The UNDP, as part of a partnership, assists countries to investigate and secure climate change adaptation finance that is available through vertical funds such as the Adaptation Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (both of which are managed by the Global Environment Facility, GEF), the Green Climate Fund, and other multilateral and bilateral sources.

Among the objectives of the EU adaptation strategy, the Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) is the most popular initiative on climate change adaptation at the European level. It was launched in 2012 as a partnership between the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA, 2018b). Climate-ADAPT is based on an information-sharing platform and aims to support all levels of governmental organizations in developing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies and actions. Its objectives are threefold: (i) to facilitate the collection, sharing, and use of information, (ii) to assist the effective dissemination of the gained knowledge to decision-makers, and (iii) to assist in coordination among different sectors and institutional levels. As denoted in the EU adaptation strategy, Climate-ADAPT is a key element for better informed decision-making on:

  • • Topics related to climate impact, risks, and vulnerability assessments,
  • • Adaptation options, i.e. possible measures and actions that can be implemented to improve adaptation to climate change,
  • • Uncertainties of climate change information,
  • • Monitoring, Reporting, and Evaluation (MRE) processes which can help to understand progress and performance on adaptation actions.

Moreover, Climate-ADAPT integrates an Adaptation Support Tool to assist users in developing climate change adaptation strategies and plans and economic tools, such as Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), Cost-benefit analysis (CBA), and Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) tools, to enhance the process of making a sound decision.

Finally, released in 2011 and supported by the Stockholm Environment Institute, weADAPT is an online platform that focuses on sharing stakeholders’ experiences and lessons learned not only mainly on climate adaptation issues but also on synergies between adaptation and mitigation.

EU Funding Initiatives/Programs on Adaptation

As mention before, the EU has developed proper mechanisms to provide financial and technical support for implementing the proposed adaptation policies. The LIFE program establishes the EU’s instrument to fund environmental protection, nature conservation, and climate action projects throughout the EU, and, thus, has been nominated by the EU Adaptation Strategy (EU, 2013a) as the key funding channel for supporting capacity for adaptation. The LIFE program funds projects proposing innovative strategies and policies on three priority areas: climate adaptation, mitigation, and climate governance and information. The budget for the aforementioned is 864 million Euros, which represents 25% of the total LIFE program (Reckien et al., 2018).

The LIFE HEROTILE project[5] (LIFE14 CCA/IT/000939), for example, is a funded LIFE project on climate change adaptation. Its objective is to produce climate- resilient construction materials with market potential. In particular, the design and production of two types of roof tiles with higher air permeability and improved energy performance are assessed to help cool buildings while saving up to 50% of the energy used for cooling. On the other hand, the LIFE-IP AdaptlnGR[6] project (LIFE17 IPC/GR/000006) entitled “Boosting the implementation of adaptation policy across Greece” has a capacity-building goal, i.e. supporting the implementation of the national adaptation strategy in Greece and coordinating, prioritizing, monitoring, and mainstreaming adaptation policy actions. The EU’s contribution to the specific project is approximately 8.3 million Euros (58.7% of the total budget).

Other funding means, such as the INTERREG and Horizon 2020, also contribute to the budgeting of projects related to adaptation. According to the European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation (ETC/CCA) of the European Environmental Agency, the available budget of the current European Territorial Cooperation program, namely INTERREG 2014-2020, is 10.1 billion Euros (Ramieri et al., 2018). These funds come from the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) for supporting the Cohesion Policy of the EU. The funds cover 11 funding priorities in three thematic areas (EU, 2013b) and are allocated to cross- border, transnational, and interregional cooperation programs. The funding priority related to climate change entitled “Combatting climate change and risk prevention” currently attracts less than 2% of the resources.

Also, climate-related research is funded by the current European funding program, namely Horizon 2020. It is also bound to be funded by the successor research program, namely Horizon Europe, which is going to be launched at the beginning of the next decade. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation program with an overall budget of 80 billion Euros for the period 2014-2020. Roughly 35% of this sum is given to climate-related research (EU, 2013a), with adaptation to climate change to be investigated through the topics of (i) climate risk assessments and modelling, (ii) economics of climate change, (iii) climate services, (iv) nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation, and (v) disaster risk resilience.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is financially injected, amongst others, by the EU, was established in 2010 to support climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, programs, policies, and other activities in developing countries. As a follow-up to the COP21 Paris Agreement in 2015, the GCF released up to 3 million USD per country, through its Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme, to support the formulation of NAPs, taking into consideration the UNFCCC NAP technical guidelines and the importance of coordination and complementarity with other NAP-related initiatives and support.

  • [1] Promotion of action by the member states. To achieve cost-effective adaptationmeasures, coordination and coherence at various levels of planning and management should be satisfied. The EU adopted and proposed the formulation ofNational Adaptation Strategies (NAS), a tool that is recommended at the global
  • [2] 2 https://ee.europa.eu/easme/en/life.
  • [3] https://www.covenantofmayors.eu/.
  • [4] https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/.
  • [5] http://www.lifeherotile.eu.
  • [6] https://www.adaptivegreece.gr/en-us/.
 
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