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.


In Europe, 60% of freshwater ecosystems are still not healthy due to poor implementation and enforcement of the EU water law - the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). Rather than putting all efforts into protecting and restoring these ecosystems by the law’s 2027 deadline, Member States and the European Commission have allowed them to be further polluted and destroyed. 


About #ProtectWater



In 2018, the European Commission launched its “fitness-check” of the WFD, a process each piece of EU legislation undergoes to evaluate whether it is still relevant and “fit for purpose”. Faced with an alarming push from a number of industry groups and some Member States to weaken the WFD’s strong elements, urgent action was needed.


Together, we launched the #ProtectWater campaign to save the WFD. The campaign, supported by 130+ civil society groups, inspired 375,386 citizens to take part in the European Commission’s public consultation on the WFD (which ran from October 2018 to March 2019 and was the only opportunity for the public to have its say during the evaluation) to express their opposition to changing the law. This made the public consultation on the WFD the third largest in the history of the EU. The call went on to be supported by 5,500+ scientists, who sent an open letter to the new Commission calling on them to “save the Water Framework Directive” in order to halt and reverse the decline in freshwater biodiversity, and renew impetus towards the implementation of the law. 


On 12 December, the European Commission signed-off the WFD as “fit for purpose”. This positive news concluded the two-year fitness-check, setting the EU back on course to bring life back to its rivers through full implementation and enforcement of the law. However, Living Rivers Europe will continue to ensure that Member States and the Commission follow through and that the possibility of revising the WFD is definitely discarded, and will work tirelessly for it to be fully implemented and enforced so that the vast majority of Europe’s waters are, at last, brought back to life. 


Our policy asks


In the long-term, Living Rivers Europe is campaigning for:


  • A better implementation and enforcement of the Water Framework Directive;
  • An effective integration of water management aspects into relevant sectoral policies, particularly agriculture, energy, flood risk management and transport; and
  • The maintenance of the Water Framework Directive’s high standards of water resources and ecosystem protection.