ERN / WWF Press release Monday 9 July – 10.30am
Citizens jumping in rivers & lakes across 18 European countries to protect the future of our waters
Yesterday, thousands of people across Europe jumped into rivers, streams and lakes in more than 160 European ‘Big Jump’ events. Groups of families and friends were jumping to make a statement and protect our rivers and lakes, and to show that Member States must follow the positive spirit of the EU water law which they committed to: “Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such”, as stated in the introduction of the EU Water Framework Directive.
The public engagement event saw people jumping, diving, wading, kayaking in 18 European countries from Spain to Poland. The Big Jump is an annual event founded by European Rivers Network that has taken place since 2002. WWF offices across Europe organised 48 Big Jump events, and used this occasion to kickstart its #ProtectWater campaign to save the EU Water Framework Directive, a crucial legal instrument to protect Europe’s freshwater ecosystems.
A landmark policy to its core, the Water Framework Directive recognises that, if we are to secure a sufficient supply of good quality water in the future, we must conserve our freshwater ecosystems. “This Big Jump has shown that people love rivers and lakes. It is a place of pleasure, joy and fun. The abundance of wildlife makes these ecosystems a special place for our threatened nature. However, it is very worrying that Member States have been skirting around their legal commitments under EU water laws for the majority of the past two decades. It is high time to understand that water is the base of all life on earth and not a commercial product like any other,” says Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF’s European Policy Office.
“Sunday was a fun day out in places that people love but with a serious purpose: Europe’s leaders must do more to protect our wonderful waterways,” stated Roberto Epple, founder of the Big Jump and chair of European Rivers Network.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
Facts about the Big Jump
Founded by the European Rivers Network in 2002, the Big Jump is an open source event that aims to remind people of how valuable Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands are. The Big Jump seeks to inspire people to remember the powerful ties that bind them to freshwater ecosystems, and encourage them to join the fight to save them.
Since 2002, around 200,000 people have taken part before in over 2000 events.
Facts about the WFD
By restoring people’s connection to rivers and lakes, the Big Jump seeks to build support for efforts to protect and restore Europe’s freshwater systems – the goal of the EU’s world-leading Water Framework Directive (WFD). This directive is now under review and the Big Jump 2018 sent a clear message to the continent’s decision-makers to not weaken these laws, but to implement them.
- The WFD is one of the EU’s most progressive pieces of environmental legislation. It requires the protection, enhancement and restoration of our rivers, wetlands, lakes and coastal waters, but Member States are currently failing make it work on the ground;
- Under the Water Framework Directive, EU governments have committed to ensure no deterioration and achieve good status for the vast majority of all water bodies by 2015, and at the very latest by 2027;
- Where implemented, the Water Framework Directive has proved to be effective in achieving its goals of good water status and non-deterioration, successfully balancing environmental, social and economic requirements.
The Water Framework Directive is currently undergoing its standard review in the form of a ‘fitness check’. Every piece of EU legislation goes through this process. The fitness check will look at the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and EU added value of the Water Framework Directive (and its ‘daughters’) and the Floods Directive. This will include a stakeholder consultation and a public consultation, which is expected to be launched in September 2018.
Liesbeth Van den Bossche
EU Campaigner – WWF European Policy Office
email@example.com +32 477 81 10 20
Chair of European Rivers Network firstname.lastname@example.org +33 6 08 62 12 67