Delhi, India | 13 February, 2019: Strengthening the EU-India water cooperation further, six Expressions of Intent and Memorandum of Understandings were today exchanged between the India-EU Water Partnership (IEWP) and several European Member States, international organisations as well as an Indian institution at the 4th EU India Water Forum (IWF), which was hosted by the IEWP and TERI as part of the World Sustainable Development Summit, New Delhi. The signed documents demonstrate a strong commitment of the signatories to cooperate and implement jointly within the IEWP and work towards innovative approaches to improve the status of water resources in India. The documents were exchanged between the IEWP and Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, IIT Kanpur/cGanga/VITO and Vlakwa/WssTP, Water Resources Group 2030 as well as between GIZ and IHE Delft, Netherlands.
The forum was inaugurated by Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD & GR), Government of India. High level officials from India and the European Union (EU), water experts and researchers were also present.
The three IEWF sessions reflected on key water management challenges and demonstrated that functioning water resources management demands a combination of good governance and coordination, implementation will as well as appropriate strategies, technical approaches, research and innovative technologies.
Further, the 4th edition of the IEWF provided a platform for establishing areas of opportunity for EU businesses involvement in the Indian water sector. About 50 EU and Indian businesses came together through this initiative. Next steps will facilitate and realizes EU businesses engagement in India and enable the implementation of EU innovative technologies along with Indian counterparts.
The IEWP is an outcome of the ‘Joint Declaration on Water’ adopted by India and EU on 30 March 2016 during the 13th EU-India Summit in Brussels, to enhance cooperation on water issues including supporting the ‘Clean Ganga’ programme of the Government of India. At present, the IEWP is co-financed by the European Union (EU) and the German Cooperation, and aims to develop an integrated and holistic River Basin Management Plan for the Tapi Basin blending the technical expertise of India and EU Member States as well as bringing together all three Indian States that share the basin. Akhil Kumar, Joint Secretary of MoWR, RD & GR, who is strongly involved in the IEWP, stated: “The joint efforts and implementation activities within the IEWP input into the Indian water policy strengthening our activities to improve our water resources management and to clean our rivers to contribute to sustainable socio-economics in India”.
Water is a critical area for cooperation between the EU and India and its member states. The last two EU India summits and the recently announced EU’s strategy on India spell out both the challenges and opportunities in this sector. Elaborating on the support extended by the EU member States and key institutions to this project through exchange of Expressions of Intent, Raimund Magis, Chargé d'Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to India said “We are working closely with India on nine identified priority areas in the water management sector. With the added expertise and support by the member states, institutions and the businesses, we hope to further step up this collaboration."
Talking further about the initiative, Henriette Faergemann, First Counsellor of the European Delegation to India, said, “The European Union and its Member States have developed 168 River Basin Management Plans during the last 20 years to improve the water quality of all European rivers. The EU is highly ambitious to bring in technical expertise of the EU Member States and add value to ongoing effort to rejuvenate Indian rivers.”
Wolfram Klein from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development highlighted that Germany and the EU Member States went a long way to implement effective river rejuvenation. “We can only be successful in cleaning and managing our water resources if we cooperate with our neighbouring States towards joint aims and if we accept that this needs time. Rivers cannot become clean from one day to another, it needs years.”
The IEWP tackles a set of topics as part of priority areas including River Basin Management, assessment of environmental flows, the development of a water quality dashboard for targeted decision making, groundwater management, irrigation efficiency and reuse of treated wastewater. Research and the introduction of innovative technologies also fall in the ambit of the programme.