Recommendation 1472 (2000)
Sharing water resources
management data on the
Internet: the role of the Council of Europe
from the OffICE database of the Council of Europe - September 2000)
Fresh water, a
vital resource for mankind as well as nature and a crucial factor of
economic development, represents a mere 3% of world water resources.
in certain regions the uneven distribution of this resource is a cause of
political instability that may even escalate into armed conflict.
comparative scarcity and heavy use mean that fresh water is exposed to all
kinds of stresses, whether of domestic, industrial or agricultural origin,
which can seriously and sometimes irreversibly impair both its quality and
contamination, impoverishment and ultimate exhaustion of underground or
surface water can cause major soil degradation resulting, for instance, in
high salinity of the ground water, which can be largely responsible for
turning certain regions into wasteland.
consumes far more water than any other sector and, at least in certain
countries, is responsible for significant pollution, particularly
contamination by nitrates and fertilisers.
distribution of water resources, a large proportion of
them is formed by major international rivers. The fact that they
constitute virtually the sole source of fresh water for certain countries
clearly indicates what important issues their water quality and quantity can
represent, as well as the need to ensure effective international co-operation.
can also be a destroyer and the prime cause of very serious natural
disasters. Europe, like other parts of the world, has experienced torrential
rains and very extensive floods in recent years, which have focused
international attention on the need to ensure integrated management of water
resources allowing all available knowledge to be turned to account.
management of water resources thus calls for programmes in all sectors where
it is relevant, whether in spatial planning, the preservation of
biodiversity, transport, energy policy, industrial policy, agriculture,
civil defence, or elsewhere.
purpose, there must be ready access to all the appropriate technical,
scientific and legal instruments, the relevant knowledge, programmes and
projects, the work in hand, and any other facility conducive to better
management of water resources.
connection, it is gratifying to note the large number of Internet sites
created at the instigation of national or international organisations, non-governmental
organisations or research institutes, and their valuable contribution to
Assembly particularly commends the exemplary action of the European
Environment Agency, one of whose aims is to build a network of the knowledge
held by its twenty-eight member countries concerning the environment,
in particular, water.
agency?s action is all the more important in that the data gathered by it
are used for preparing environmental monitoring reports and framing the
environmental policies of its member countries.
Council of Europe action in this field, the Assembly would recall the
adoption as far back as 1968 of the European Water Charter, still considered today as a reference text, the Council of Europe
action programme, Freshwater Europe, organised by the Assembly from 1992 to
1993, and the various awareness-raising campaigns conducted by the Naturopa
furthermore considers that the Council of Europe has a duty to
continue contributing, as far as its capabilities and specialities will
allow, to optimum management of its member countries? water resources.
Parliamentary Assembly is concerned, it has always supported and encouraged
the initiatives taken and the proposals put forward by the various
interested committees, being convinced of the role which it can perform not
only within the Council, but also in relation to
As far as the
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and the
intergovernmental sector are concerned,
both of which are also involved in this domain, the Assembly
considers it important to use first the existing means and acquired
It stresses in this connection
the importance of action by the Council of Europe under the EUR-OPA Major
Hazards Open Partial Agreement.
It welcomes the recent
establishment, in this context, of a European Centre on Flooding Problems in
Chişinău, thanks to the commitment of the Moldovan Government, and
the forthcoming project on the Danube.
It considers that a specific
activity dealing with hazards created by accidental pollution or flooding of
major rivers could be developed in that context, in particular through an attempt to facilitate access to information as complete and up to date as
To this end,
an Internet site could be used for collecting data in this field and for
real-time information exchange, and be operated as a combined
prevention and monitoring instrument and disaster intervention facility.
having regard to the experience of the Council of Europe in public
information and awareness-raising, the Assembly is of the opinion that
the creation of an interactive site on the Internet aimed at alerting,
informing and educating young people would meet a need not only for them,
but also for various education systems, which could use the site as a
site especially for local and regional elected representatives and
administrative officers, providing them with information or giving them
access to other specialised sites, could be helpful in enhancing integrated
water management by local and regional authorities, and facilitate an
exchange of information and experience among elected representatives of the
different Council of Europe member states.
the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
governments of member countries of the EUR-OPA Major Hazards Open Partial
Agreement to consider the feasibility of a scheme on the situation of major
rivers, including pollution and flood risks,
to support in particular the
efforts of the Moldovan Government, and to envisage creating an Internet
site in this context;
look into the
possibility of creating, in the context of the Naturopa Centre, an
interactive Internet site in
order to raise young people?s awareness of, and inform and educate them
on, water issues;
make the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) and the Steering Committee on Local
and Regional Democracy (CDLR) aware of the need to consider closely the
responsibilities of local and regional bodies in respect of integrated water
management, and to envisage the creation of an Internet site in order to
build a network for the exchange of knowledge