Living Rivers Europe | WWF
© / Terry Whittaker / WWF

Living Rivers Europe

An NGO coalition fighting to protect water
Healthy freshwater ecosystems play an important role in providing society with a large number of services such as water purification, carbon sequestration, food provision and flood protection. And yet, freshwater ecosystems (such as wetlands, lakes and rivers) are experiencing the biggest loss of wildlife on the planet. Abundance of freshwater species has shrunk by 81% since the 1970s. 

Why this coalition? 

The implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), the EU’s main legislation governing the management of its freshwater resources, has led to some dramatic improvements in water ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them. However, the objective of the WFD of achieving "good status" for all Europe’s waters by 2015 has been missed by a long shot. Today, only 40% of Europe’s waters are estimated to be in good condition. Unsustainable agriculture, hydropower, flood defence and navigation are recognised as the main pressures preventing Europe’s waters to recover.

This is why WWF has joined forces with four environmental and fisheries organisations to form the Living Rivers Europe coalition. The coalition includes the European Anglers Alliance, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Rivers Network, Wetlands International and WWF representing a movement of over 40 million European citizens.

Our aim

First and foremost, we are here to defend the WFD and to make sure its goals and high environmental standards are not weakened during the ongoing fitness check, which is led by the European Commission. In short, we are fighting for the law to be signed off as "fit for purpose" by the Commission when they submit their conclusions of the evaluation in 2019. This is why, in October 2018, we launched the #ProtectWater campaign to encourage citizens in Europe and beyond to participate in the Commission’s public consultation on the WFD.This was the only opportunity for the general public to have its say during the evaluation of the law, and the campaign provides an easy tool for 375,000+ citizens to express their support to keep this law strong and effective.

Policy Asks

In the long-term, we are campaigning for:
  • A better implementation and enforcement of the Water Framework Directive;
  • An effective integration of water management aspects into relevant sectoral policies, particularly agriculture, energy, flood risk management and transport; and
  • The maintenance of the Water Framework Directive’s high standards of water resources and ecosystem protection.