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  • EDITORIAL - NEWSLETTER #22- Quarterly - Winter 2015 2015

    PM Fifteen years ago, the Water framework directive (WFD) instituted economics as an instrument in implementing water policy. The directive encouraged the Member States to use economic analysis in setting up the most effective preservation projects that make the best use of public funds and take into account economic issues, the goal being a sustainable development policy. For example, economic criteria, such as a disproportionate cost for the restoration of an aquatic environment, can justify an exemption from the European regulations. Economic analysis also assists managers in ensuring that the price paid by the various users of water resources effectively cover the costs incurred by their use and complies with the polluter-pays principle.

    Significant progress must still be made in the actual use of these economic approaches in the water sector, however the WFD has already created the necessary conditions for constructive and productive discussions. Similar to the effect that economic arguments had in shifting opinions among the international community concerning climate change, data on the “value of preserved natural resources” expressed in economic terms can encourage changes in viewpoints in favour of greater protection of water and aquatic environments. Information on the value of the environment can be used to highlight the importance of preservation, facilitate decision-making and prioritise action plans

    Of course, the preservation of the environment involves issues and values that cannot be expressed solely in economic terms. Above and beyond the material uses of water and aquatic environments, for tourism, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, drinking water, etc., our rivers, lakes, shores and even our groundwater have intrinsic value for our fellow citizens as part of our cultural heritage. However, even in this field, the expression in economic terms of the attachment of people to and their dependence on water and aquatic environments can help in raising social awareness concerning the issues surrounding efforts to preserve and protect environments.

    This issue of the newsletter presents examples of economic studies funded or promoted by Onema. They highlight the value of economic analysis in assessing the usefulness of projects and in selecting the most effective measures to be implemented. They also illustrate how an economic assessment of the benefits gained or the costs avoided in preserving groundwater or wetlands can assist water managers in justifying preservation projects.


    Paul Michelet,

    General director of Onema


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