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Source: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety More than 200 experts explored how states and municipalities can better deal with climate-related water scarcity in the future.

National water dialogue develops recommendations for the future of water in Germany

After two years of intensive consultations, the Federal Environment Ministry has concluded the National Water Dialogue, which deals with the water management of the future. In addition to Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, numerous experts from water management, administration and research are taking part in the virtual closing event today. The result of the dialogue are comprehensive recommendations for action on various topics. More than 200 experts explored how states and municipalities can better deal with climate-related water scarcity in the future and how Germany’s natural water balance can be preserved and protected. The recommendations will now flow into the national water strategy that Federal Environment Minister Schulze intends to present next summer. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze: “Fortunately, our country is still a long way from a water emergency. I want it to stay that way in times of climate change. Germany therefore needs a national water strategy. An important element is the definition of principles for prioritizing water use, a water hierarchy. Because it helps users to prepare for a possible emergency at an early stage. Of course, decisions about who has priority in the event of scarcity are ultimately always made on site. But they should be guided by common rules of the game – also so that in the end there is no conflict between different local interests, but as much cooperation as possible. Equally great challenges are the pollution of the water, the maintenance of the functionality of the water ecosystems and the safeguarding of the general interest. The National Water Dialogue has analyzed the current and foreseeable challenges more thoroughly than ever before. The results are a good basis for the first national water strategy that we will be working on in the Federal Environment Ministry from today. ”Dirk Messner, President of the Federal Environment Agency:“ The recommendations for action of the National Water Dialogue show the different interests in dealing with water. The related challenges that water management is facing require profound change processes – especially in the guiding principles. The aim must be that ultimately only substances enter or are discharged into waters that do not pose a risk to humans or the environment. This requires a holistic view of the environmental effects of pollutants and a systemic consideration of the entry paths within the framework of a zero pollutant strategy. Climate change and water do not stop at communal borders. That is why we need water supply and water demand analyzes at catchment and river basin level as well. ” Germany has to prepare for longer periods of drought. The past summers have clearly shown that. Water scarcity is becoming a problem in more and more regions. At the same time, many bodies of water suffer from high levels of nutrients and pollutants. The participants in the National Water Dialogue have analyzed future scenarios like this in depth and identified strategic options for action for central areas of water management. Overall, the National Water Dialogue provides an up-to-date inventory, formulates goals and names fields of action with suggestions for concrete measures. The recommendations of the National Water Dialogue range from strategic approaches and new financing concepts for the modernization of water management infrastructures to suggestions for strengthening the organizational and administrative structures. The protection of water resources is to be strengthened with binding planning instruments and a reduction in substance inputs. Last but not least, the experts show how water management and agriculture can jointly develop standards and concepts for water-sensitive land use. The National Water Dialogue was initiated in 2018 by the Federal Environment Ministry together with the Federal Environment Agency. For two years, more than 200 participants from water management, agriculture, research, associations, states and municipalities took part in the intensive specialist dialogue. After a kick-off conference, the participants deepened their discussions in several individual forums on “networked infrastructures”, the “risk factor substance inputs”, the relationship between “agriculture and consumer protection”, the nexus “water development and nature conservation” as well as “water and society”. The National Water Dialogue is also a contribution from Germany to the implementation of the UN Water Decade (2018-2028).

National Water Dialogue Meeting new challenges, developing solution strategies

08.10.2020 | Press release No. 172/20 | Joint press release with the Federal Environment Agency

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