Sustainable Management of Natural Resources with a Focus on Water and Agriculture (Study, Annex, Summary and Options Brief)

15-05-2013

Water is a key natural resource targeted within resource efficiency policy of the European Union, as well as globally. This study has focussed on research, technologies and options for sustainable water use and water efficiency; agricultural land management with soil and water benefits; and measures within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to address sustainable management of water and soil resources. Six key areas for improvement have been identified: (1) The legislative framework currently in place to protect Europe’s waters needs to be implemented fully and effectively as well as adequately enforced; (2) Water priorities that have been articulated at the EU level need to be more fully integrated and well implemented within the sectoral policies at EU, national and regional levels; (3) Water losses should be reduced and water savings and efficiency should be increased, in particular in agriculture and water scarce areas; (4) Land and soil management approaches aimed at combating soil erosion, preventing loss of soil organic matter, sequestering soil carbon and improving water retention are critical for long-term sustainability of farming and healthy ecosystems and should be promoted at all levels; (5) EU funds, including CAP, allocated to water priorities should be used in an efficient and effective way; and (6) improved data and decision support tools relating to water and soils are essential for making informed decisions that support sustainable management of water and soil.

Water is a key natural resource targeted within resource efficiency policy of the European Union, as well as globally. This study has focussed on research, technologies and options for sustainable water use and water efficiency; agricultural land management with soil and water benefits; and measures within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to address sustainable management of water and soil resources. Six key areas for improvement have been identified: (1) The legislative framework currently in place to protect Europe’s waters needs to be implemented fully and effectively as well as adequately enforced; (2) Water priorities that have been articulated at the EU level need to be more fully integrated and well implemented within the sectoral policies at EU, national and regional levels; (3) Water losses should be reduced and water savings and efficiency should be increased, in particular in agriculture and water scarce areas; (4) Land and soil management approaches aimed at combating soil erosion, preventing loss of soil organic matter, sequestering soil carbon and improving water retention are critical for long-term sustainability of farming and healthy ecosystems and should be promoted at all levels; (5) EU funds, including CAP, allocated to water priorities should be used in an efficient and effective way; and (6) improved data and decision support tools relating to water and soils are essential for making informed decisions that support sustainable management of water and soil.

External author

Jana Poláková (Project Leader, IEEP), Andrew Farmer (IEEP), Sandra Berman (BIO Intelligence Service), Sandra Naumann (Ecologic Institute), Ana Frelih-Larsen (Ecologic Institute) and Johanna von Toggenburg (Ecologic Institut)