We are Living Rivers Europe, a coalition of five environmental and angling organisations: WWF’s European network, the European Anglers Alliance, European Environmental Bureau, European Rivers Network, and Wetlands International. We represent a movement of over 40 million people across Europe and, together, we started the #ProtectWater campaign.


Over the course of 2018 and 2019, the #ProtectWater campaign inspired 375,386 people to call on the European Commission to defend Europe’s strong water law - the Water Framework Directive (WFD) making the EU’s public consultation on the legislation one of the largest ever in the history of the European Union. Together, we told the EU and its Member States loud and clear that this law is strong and fit for purpose. 


As Living Rivers Europe, we will be there every step of the way to ensure that the WFD remains intact, and will continue to push for it to be fully implemented by Member States and enforced by the European Commission so that the vast majority of Europe’s waters are returned to good health by 2027 (at the absolute latest).


No rivers, no water, no life. 


Healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands are essential to our existence, providing us with an array of services, from purifying our water and storing carbon, to providing us with food and protecting us from floods. They are also home to some of the most amazing wildlife on the planet. 


But our rivers and lakes are not doing well. As WWF’s Living Planet Report shows, freshwater ecosystems are the most threatened on the planet – and Europe is no exception. The latest data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that a colossal 60% of European rivers, lakes and wetlands are not healthy.


Our vision as Living Rivers Europe is one of healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands, flourishing with wildlife and which benefit people, nature and economies. To make this vision a reality, we advocate for the defence and maintenance of the EU’s strong, ambitious water law – the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) – in its current form. We strongly believe that it is the only way to protect Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands from further destruction, and to restore those which have already been damaged back to good health. 


Despite this strong law, which has been in place since 2000, governments have been unambitious and failed to make it fully work on the ground. This failure is clearly reflected in the disastrous state Europe’s waters.


First and foremost, we are here to defend Europe’s water law and to make sure its goals and high environmental standards are NOT weakened during the ongoing evaluation. In short, we are fighting for the law to be signed off as ‘fit for purpose’ by the European Commission when they submit their conclusions of the evaluation in 2019. 


In the long-term, we are fighting for this law to be put into practice by all EU Member States, and enforced by the EU. We also advocate for rivers and other freshwater ecosystems to be better integrated into policies which have a huge impact on Europe’s waters (for instance, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy) and to redirect public funding from financing  harmful practices (e.g. hydropower, human-built ‘grey’ flood defence, unsustainable agriculture), to nature-based solutions and sustainable water management. We also urge the EU and its Member States to improve the overall transparency of and ensure effective public participation in water related decision-making.