As every year, on the 22nd of March, we celebrate World Water Day. The theme this year brings us all together to consider the question “What does water mean to you?”. The United Nations, which initiated World Water Day 30 years ago, want to showcase, and celebrate all the different ways water benefits our lives, how we value it and safeguard it for everyone.
We have asked Muriel Lienau, newly elected president of Natural Mineral Waters Europe what water means to her personally: “Water fuels life. It nurtures every human and every ecosystem surrounding us. For me, water is the most important contributor to our health and well-being. Without it, our body and mind would not function. Water is also the lifeline of every economic activity, something we should take care of for future generations and a valuable resource that we should never take for granted”.
Water means different things to different people. But most importantly, the one thing we all agree on is that water is first and foremost “a shared responsibility”. We all have a role to play in saving and protecting it.
Water – our shared responsibility
We are happy and relieved to see that in spite of the impact of the current global pandemic, nature protection and biodiversity restauration is still in the focus on the European agenda, as a way of leading to a sustainable European recovery. Portugal, who is currently holding the rotating EU Presidency, has been setting the tone by prioritizing the implementation of the European Green Deal with its Biodiversity Strategy and the commitments to reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
All of those actions have direct impact on the quality of water and the resilience of the surrounding ecosystems, and we applaud the EU’s ambitions. Natural mineral and spring water producers themselves have been for as much as 100 years the guardians of the water sources and their surrounding catchment areas. The quality and purity of their product depends on an intact environment, free of pollution and contamination. They are helping to protect the natural ecosystems through which water flows to reach its natural source and make sure that the amount of water withdrawn always respects the natural recharge of the source to ensure availability for future generations.
Water – the fuel to our physical and mental health
Water is a vital nutrient and plays a key role in the human body. From every cell and tissue to vital organ, every system in our body requires water to function. Hydration also plays a key role in the prevention of some non-communicable diseases and scientific studies have shown that it also affects our mental health. Free of calories, sugar and additives, water is the most natural way to stay hydrated.
However, available data suggests that Europeans at all stages of life are not drinking enough and are not meeting EFSA’s guidelines for daily water intake. This is either because water is not safe and/or readily available, or they are choosing sugar-sweetened or caffeinated drinks instead. The health of European citizens is our shared responsibility! That is why access to water from every source has to be actively encouraged, because all waters support healthier choices and drinking habits. Natural mineral waters, spring waters and tap water have all a special role to play and making water people’s first choice should always be promoted.
We all share the responsibility to protect this valuable resource that is so essential for us as humans and for our planet. Natural mineral and spring water producers take special pride in valuing water, many of them for several generations. It is part of our culture and part of our European heritage.
Today, such a heritage translates into becoming sustainability leaders and supporting Europe’s ambition to be carbon-neutral and frontrunner in preserving biodiversity. Natural Mineral Water Europe President, Muriel Lienau wants the sector to continue to be a leading force: “Natural mineral and spring water producers have a long history of source protection to guarantee the natural purity of their waters, it is part of their DNA, and has naturally contributed to enriching healthy, thriving environments. Beyond their catchment areas they are also pioneers in considering the circularity of their industry, setting up and financing packaging collection schemes and using fully recyclable packaging materials. As we make choices and plans on what our future will look like, we believe we are a credible partner to help Europe to deliver a healthy, sustainable green recovery and we are ready to take our shared responsibility.”