BLUE GOLD CONFERENCE. Water matters – Could the EU do more to manage the water challenge within and beyond its borders?


30 November 2015


EPC Conference Centre, 14-16 Rue du Trône, 1000 Brussels (3rd Floor)

This Policy Dialogue was organised by European Policy Centre in collaboration with Egmont to mark the end of the project on “Blue Gold – Managing the water challenge in and outside the EU”. 

Water is an essential factor in all aspects of human life, from health to sanitation, from agriculture to industrial production. It contributes to sustaining human development and prosperity across the globe. It is ‘blue gold’, although policies, markets and human practices often underestimate its value. Existing water supplies are coming under increasing stress, inside and outside the EU, due to agricultural production, industrial activities, energy production, urban development, and population growth. Lack of access to good quality water creates a wide range of economic, social, political and security challenges, and the implications are felt across borders. It is feared that climate change, with an increase in floods and droughts, will deteriorate the situation even further.

The event addressed the following questions: What is the EU doing to mitigate the water challenge and what more could it do to support more sustainable management of water resources within its borders and beyond?  What should be the priorities for action in the EU? What role should water play in EU development and diplomacy efforts? What are the benefits of acting now?

In the framework of this project, EPC published an Issue Paper, “Reaching for Blue Gold – How the EU can rise to the water challenge while reaping the rewards”. In this paper, Annika Hedberg, Romain Pardo, Andrea Frontini, together with Toutia Daryoush, highlight the economic, environmental, societal and geopolitical value of water – or ‘Blue Gold’ – and argue that it’s time for the EU to open up its toolbox and manage the water challenge within the Union and beyond.



14.30 – 15.00: Registration

15:00 – 17:30: Conference with:


 Marc Otte, Director General, Egmont Institute


Daniel Calleja Cresp, Director General for Environment, European Commission

Fritz Holzwarth, Rector ad interim, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education

Annika Hedberg, Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre

Thierry Malet, Vice-President for Innovation and Business Performance, Suez

Alexandros Yannis, Senior Expert/Energy and Water Diplomacy, European External Action Service

17.30: End of conference


 (Photo credit: esquimo_2ooo, Flickr)