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Living within our Means: Water and Resource Efficiency in the EU

06 Jun 2013

Over the past century we have tested the limits of many of the natural resources that sustain us. Our current patterns of water use have developed in a context where the full costs of exploiting this vital natural resource were not borne by the users. The result is that our societies have become accustomed to – and our economies grown dependent on – practices which do not make efficient use of the resource. Water efficiency is a complex field with many such challenges, which in many cases are also opportunities for improvement. In a European context, it is receiving a great deal of attention as part of an overall strategy for resource-efficient growth.

This paper sets out the European policy context for water efficiency before going on to explore a number of areas where the key challenges and opportunities lie, asking whether resource efficiency is the right paradigm for delivering sustainable water use.

Download the paper here

This is the third in a series of Environment Nexus policy briefs by leading experts in the fields of agriculture, energy, climate change and water.

This content forms part of the Environment Nexus project, which is co-financed bDG Communication of the European Parliament.


As an independent forum, the Institute does not express any opinions of its own. The views expressed in the article are the sole responsibility of the author.


Comments 1-2 of 2

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Ryan Meade says: 11 Jun 2013 13:05

Thanks for your comment David. The paper uses the EU's resource efficiency agenda as its starting point so perhaps it is a bit constrained by this perspective. There's certainly lots more that could be said on this topic. I'm not sure I agree that water footprinting is irrelevant - I wanted to refer to it in particular as a way of introducing the consumption side of the argument as well as the production focus of most European policy.

David Zetland says: 08 Jun 2013 10:12

Interesting paper. Very EU. A pity that it puts emphasis on footprinting (not relevant) rather than *more* emphasis on setting constraints (i.e., natural availability less e-flows equals water for economic use) and discussing allocations that WILL align with efficiency. But maybe the EU likes to measure and regulate more than establish basic incentives and allow people to make efficient decisions without bureaucratic second-guessing...

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