Five urgent water issues for policymakers

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By Milthon Lujan

Germany.- In the run-up to the Bundestag elections in 2017, the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Germany’s largest research center for inland waters, identified five urgent water-related issues and published them in an IGB Policy Brief. According to the scientists, there is an urgent need for discussion and action in the next legislative period regarding the named topics.

Water and water bodies are essential resources of high societal, economic, political and cultural value and relevance. However, the majority of inland waters in Germany is in an ecologically poor condition, which leads to numerous conflicts over their protection and use. Streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater are the focal points of societal discourse. But often lacking in this political debate are arguments that are backed by reliable scientific analysis.

“Research for the future of our freshwaters” is IGB’s mission. Therefore, one of IGB’s central tasks is to provide objective, science-based information and advice to societal stakeholders from politics, authorities, associations, industry, education, civil society and the interested public.

IGB fulfils this societal consultation mandate in the 2017 election year by compiling facts and substantiated arguments on five water-related issues, in which the institute sees urgent need for political discussion and action:

– Overfertilization: Diffuse nutrient contamination of waters with nitrogen and phosphorus

– Synthetic substances: Pharmaceuticals, microplastics, nanoparticles and hormone-active substances in water bodies

– Waterways: Unprofitable extension in conflict with EU legislation

Aquaculture: Strengthening sustainable circulation systems and self-sufficiency

– Hydropower: EEG-support of small hydropower plants in the area of conflict with water protection

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“Sustainable water management must take equal account of the protection and use of our waters. These different interests and possible compromises have to be negotiated by policymakers. The scientific advisory role of IGB is also to point out specific problems and inconvenient conflicts of interest. With the IGB Policy Brief, we offer objective research-based discussion and decision support”, explains Prof. Dr. Mark Gessner, IGB’s acting Director and co-author of the IGB Policy Brief, on the occasion of the publication.

The IGB Policy Brief for the Bundestag election 2017 – “Protection and Use of Inland Water in Germany – Status Quo, Conflicts and Political Action Options” can be downloaded here as a free PDF (German only): http://bit.ly/IGB_Policy_Brief_Bundestagswahl_2017_Gewaesser 

Source: Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB)

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