SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
1. EU Programmes likely to be relevant for libraries
Because of their intrinsic properties, biocidal products can pose risks to humans, animals and the environment. As a result, the EU has set up strict rules and procedures to minimise these risks.
Environment - Chemicals
Some chemicals can severely damage our health or the environment. There is an increase in health problems that can be partially explained by the use of chemicals. Some man-made chemicals are found in the most remote places in the environment but also in our bodies. Chemicals are everywhere. In the EU, we have comprehensive chemicals legislation, spearheaded by REACH and CLP, which aims to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment. Specific groups of chemicals, such s biocides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics, are covered by their own legislation. In addition, the European Commission is addressing the challenges posed by endocrine disruptors, chemicals that interfere with the hormone system causing adverse health effects.
High quality, safe and sufficient drinking water is essential for our daily life and for many other purposes, such as washing, cleaning, hygiene or watering our plants. The European Union has a history of over 30 years of drinking water policy. This policy ensures that water intended for human consumption can be consumed safely on a life-long basis, and this represents a high level of health protection. The main pillars of the policy are to:
- Ensure that drinking water quality is controlled through standards based on the latest scientific evidence;
- Secure an efficient and effective monitoring, assessment and enforcement of drinking water quality;
- Provide the consumers with adequate, timely and appropriately information;
- Contribute to the broader EU water and health policy;
The EU Water Framework Directive - integrated river basin management for Europe
On 23 October 2000, the EU Water Framework Directive (or even shorter the WFD) was finally adopted.
The Directive was published in the Official Journal (OJ L 327) on 22 December 2000 and entered into force the same day. Some amendments have been introduced into the Directive since 2000, and you can download the consolidated version in all EU languages here.
However, even after reading the Directive, you may have still questions, such as: What is this Directive about? What do I need to know about the Directive? What is currently happening in relation to the Directive?
Final Circular Economy package
On 4 March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges to shaping our economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimised. In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan, which includes measures that will helpstimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.
The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and a revised legislative proposal on waste.
Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:
- A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2035;
- A common EU target for recycling 70% of packaging waste by 2030
Environment Action Programme
The European Union has put in place a broad range of environmental legislation. As a result, air, water and soil pollution has significantly been reduced. Chemicals legislation has been modernised and the use of many toxic or hazardous substances has been restricted. Today, EU citizens enjoy some of the best water quality in the world and over 18% of EU's territory has been designated as protected areas for nature.
However, many challenges persist and these must be tackled together in a structured way.
The 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) will be guiding European environment policy until 2020. In order to give more long-term direction it sets out a vision: "In 2050, we live well, within the planet’s ecological limits. Our prosperity and healthy environment stem from an innovative, circular economy where nothing is wasted and where natural resources are managed sustainably, and biodiversity is protected, valued and restored in ways that enhance our society’s resilience. Our low-carbon growth has long been decoupled from resource use, setting the pace for a safe and sustainable global society." It identifies three key objectives:
- to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital
- to turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy
- to safeguard the Union's citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing
By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. Two year work programmes announce the specific areas that will be funded by Horizon 2020.
Landfill of waste
The Landfill Directive defines the different categories of waste (municipal waste, hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste and inert waste) and applies to all landfills, defined as waste disposal sites for the deposit of waste onto or into land. Landfills are divided into three classes: a) landfills for hazardous waste; b) landfills for non-hazardous waste; c) landfills for inert waste.
Minimise release of hazardous chemicals (“Active substance”, Pharmaceuticals and the Environment, Veterinary medicines)
The Commission evaluates every active substance for safety before it reaches the market in a product. Substances must be proven safe for people's health, including their residues in food and effects on animal health and the environment. Environmental Pollution caused by human and veterinary pharmaceutical substances is an emerging environmental problem. Article 8c of Directive 2008/105/EC (amended by Directive 2013/39/EU) obliges the European Commission to develop a strategic approach to water pollution from pharmaceutical substances. Veterinary medicinal products (VMPs) are substances or combinations of substances to treat, prevent or diagnose disease in animals. The EU works to support the development and authorisation of safe, effective and quality veterinary medicinal products for food producing and companion animals, ensuring their availability and guaranteeing the highest level of public health, animal health and environmental protection.
Adaptation to climate change
Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later.
Examples of adaptation measures include: using scarce water resources more efficiently; adapting building codes to future climate conditions and extreme weather events; building flood defences and raising the levels of dykes; developing drought-tolerant crops; choosing tree species and forestry practices less vulnerable to storms and fires; and setting aside land corridors to help species migrate.
2. Library Policies and Best Practices
The bulk of EU citizens have access to basic sanitation and are connected to secondary wastewater treatment. Differences between Member States do exist and awareness activities in libraries may concern clean water and its use at local level. In places where sewage and waste disposal is poor and sanitation does not reach adequate standards, libraries can denounce this state of affairs through campaigns and exhibitions with a view to enhancing the health conditions of the communities they refer to. Where universities and research or monitoring centres are present in the regions where they are installed, libraries can act as liaison agents to transmit and circulate information about sanitation and set up citizen science projects.
SDG 6 in European libraries also means the full implementation of the Green Library, which will be dealt with in greater detail under SDG 7. An introduction is the IFLA Checklist, which covers the following items: green building project planning, financing, site selection, structure, construction, materials, climate, energy management, recycling as well as green information and communication technology (Green IT), user services, library facility management, strategic goals, marketing and PR, green building certificates and more.
3. Opportunities for library funding
This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).
In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link, https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/managing-authorities/.
In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.
Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?
More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries - First European Report.
4. Main Eurostat Indicators
Key trends in “Clean water and Sanitation” in the European Union show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp. 131 and ss):
- The vast majority of EU citizens have access to basic sanitation and are connected to secondary wastewater treatment;
- Differences between Member States exist with regards to levels of access to water services and sanitation;
- Improved wastewater treatment leading to declining biochemical oxygen demand values in European rivers;
- Vast majority of inland and coastal bathing waters show ‘excellent’ bathing water quality;
- Water stress is low in most EU countries, but still high in a few.
Goal 6’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:
5. Library Indicators
Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.
A report on Library indicators and SDGs has been released by the ELSA working Group: "Towards the implementation of SDG Indicators in European Libraries"
"Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all"
Access to water is a basic human need. The provision of drinking water and sanitation services is a matter of public and environmental health in the EU. Clean water in sufficient quantity is also of paramount importance for agriculture, industry and the environment and plays a crucial role in providing climate-related ecosystem services. The most important pressures on Europe’s water resources are pollution, for example from agriculture, as well as municipal and industrial discharges and wastewater and hydrological or physical alterations of water bodies. Also, overabstraction can be a severe issue in southern Europe, in particular during the summer months and in densely populated areas. In the past 30 years, the European Commission has put considerable effort into devising policies that address these challenges and aim to protect the quality of Europe’s water resources and to ensure their sustainable and efficient use.
Within the EU, the EU water policy addresses protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. It relies on legislation on drinking water, bathing water and urban waste water, as well as on prevention of pollution caused by nitrates, industrial emissions, pesticides and persistent organic pollutants. Water resources protection is as well addressed in the 7th Environment Action Programme of the EU environment policy until 2020.
Targets and Indicators: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg6
EBLIDA Newsletter May 202209 May 2022: Register to the EBLIDA Conference! Come to Athens to see how libraries are working their post-Covid agenda! Read more >
EBLIDA Newsletter April 202213 April 2022: Seven good reasons why EBLIDA is a must-do Conference! REGISTER NOW! Read more >
Press Release: EBLIDA, NAPLE and PL2030 join together to reinforce and develop library initiatives for Ukrainian refugees12 April 2022: JOIN our initiative! Read more >
EBLIDA Newsletter March 202211 March 2022: With Statements and Declarations made by EBLIDA Members and other European Libraries/Institutions. Read more >
The Russian Federation barbaric attack against Ukraine24 February 2022: In response to the appeal launched by the Ukrainian Library Association, EBLIDA, NAPLE and Public Libraries 2030 to support democracy and freedom of expression. Read more >