On 5 and 6 October, the IMPEL Water and Land Expert Team, successfully held its first annual conference to discuss important topics in the area of Water and Land. This conference was a key output from the Safeguarding the Water Environment throughout Europe (SWETE) project. The conference aimed to discuss implementation issues around the Water Framework Directive (WFD), and to build and strengthen the IMPEL Water and Land community to enable mutual support and exchanges of best practice between Network members in this important area of work.
Over two days, a number of interesting speeches* were delivered by water and land experts from across the IMPEL Network, the United Nations and the European Commission; with many opportunities also available for delegates to break away and discuss the issues in more detail.
On the first day of the conference, presentations included; an overview of ‘The implementation of the Water Framework Directive’ in Slovenia (Darja Stanic-Racman, Inspectorate of environment and spatial planning) and Romania (Daniela Cotiga and Madalina David, Romanian Waters); and a speech on ‘The use of Earth Observation for the detection of illegal abstraction and over-abstraction of water’ (Enrico Zini and Dario Bellingeri, ARPA Lombardia, Italy). Barrie Howe (Environment Agency, England) presented on ‘Regulatory approaches in England’, and Anabela Rebelo (Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente, Portugal) reported on the ‘Discharge of treated wastewater and its reuse’. Finally, Simon Bingham (SEPA, Scotland) provided some feedback on the IMPEL Cross-Cutting project on “Mapping the regulatory toolkit” and Annette Dodensig Pedersen (Danish Ministry of Environment and Food) fed back on the IMPEL project looking at the relationship between ‘nitrates and agriculture’.
On day two of the conference, participants formed small groups, to discuss a range of important issues and challenges facing countries in the Water and Land Sector, before reporting their reflections to the plenary.
Reflecting on these discussions, and to close the conference, Giuseppe Sgorbati, Expert Team Co-ordinator for the Water and Land Group, described IMPEL’s expansion into this sector as being “very important for tackling the big issues in the Water and Land environment that are being experienced by IMPEL members across Europe. Since the group was formed in 2014, we have already had considerable success in bringing organisations together. Our experiences at the conference and over the past two years will be essential to help us inform our work programme in the future.”
Chris Dijkens, Vice-Chair of the IMPEL Network praised the work of the Water and Land team and added “It has been wonderful to see the progress over the past couple of years. This conference saw some excellent key note speeches delivered, and really underlines the importance of IMPEL’s expansion into this sector. The European Commission made it clear during their presentation that much focus is needed in this field, so it is clear that the work of this group will only become more important as it continues to develop.”
Plans are already underway to hold a second conference in 2017; and details will be made available in due course. For more information on any of the points raised in this article, please contact the SWETE Project Team.
Please view the photoalbum on our IMPEL Flickr account to get an impression of the conference.