375,386 citizens have called on the European Commission through the #ProtectWater campaign to defend Europe’s strong water law, making the EU’s public consultation on the legislation one of the largest ever in the history of the European Union.


The campaign inspired citizens across Europe and beyond to take a stand for Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the strong law which protects them, the EU Water Framework Directive, during the European Commission’s ongoing fitness-check. 


The campaign was led by WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, the European Anglers Alliance, the European Rivers Network and Wetlands International - who together form the Living Rivers Europe Coalition. It facilitated citizens’ participation in the European Commission’s public consultation on the Water Framework Directive (the only opportunity for the general public to have its say during the EU fitness-check, and which ran from October 2018 to March 2019) to express their clear opposition to changing the legislation. It was launched in October 2018 and went on to be supported by more than 130 civil society organisations, including national partners and offices of Greenpeace, BirdLife and Friends of the Earth, as well as unions. 



What Living Rivers Europe has to say: 


Ester Asin, Director of WWF’s European Policy Office, said: 


“375,386 citizens have spoken up for Europe’s precious rivers, lakes and wetlands, and against their ongoing destruction. They have told their governments loud and clear not to undermine the EU water law - decision-makers must now listen up and take these voices seriously." 


“With 60% of Europe’s waters in a critical state, the need for action from Member States is urgent. They were meant to put a stop to this destruction when they signed up to the Water Framework Directive in 2000, but, instead, have spent the best part of two decades brazenly side-stepping their commitments and not implementing it. We urge them to own up to their inaction today and, instead of pushing for this law to be changed, take citizens' views on board.”


Roberto Epple, President of the European Rivers Network, said: 

“One need only look elsewhere in the world to see that Europe is incredibly fortunate  to have a general and cross-border legal framework in the shape of the Water Framework Directive to protect its rivers, lakes and  wetlands. It would be shameful to weaken it. Citizens have understood that. Member States should respect this and move up a gear to achieve the results outlined in this text, which can be considered a treasure.”