Water was chosen as the topic for this first European Environment Agency/United Nations Environment Programme (EEA/UNEP) "State of the Environment Message" because water affects every aspect of human existence and because its availability and quality are severely threatened in many parts of Europe. Water is a daily touchstone in the life of every citizen, sustaining health, economic development and ecosystems. If Europe continues without check to use and pollute its water resources as it is doing today, irreparable harm will be done to fresh-water resources, leading to restrictions of water use, conflict over water supplies, increased health risks, and possible economic losses. Many initiatives on water are being taken by the EU, UNEP and European countries, aimed at radically improving the way water resources are used and managed across Europe - but these changes need the informed support of all European citizens. Both the more efficient use of water by households, industry and agriculture, and new political agreements on water management between regions and across political boundaries are needed if severe water crises are to be avoided. The purpose of this Message is to help build the public understanding and political support needed for improving the way Europes water resources are used and managed.
The EEA provides objective, reliable and comparable information on Europes environment for those concerned with framing and implementing European and national environmental policy, and for the public.
UNEP is the environmental conscience of the United Nations system, having a mandate to provide leadership and to encourage partnerships in caring for the environment, with a strong regional emphasis.