OiEau, a key player in water management at European level
For 25 years, OiEau has been accompanying many projects at a European scale. On the occasion of World Europe Day, Stéphanie Laronde, head of the Technical and Institutional Support and Cooperation Directorate, answered our questions.
Over the past 25 years, 113 OiEau projects have been funded by the European Commission. How OiEau's expertise (WIS, Training, Support & Cooperation, Networking) is central to reach the EU's intervention priorities in water policy, in Europe and worldwide?
OiEau’s European activities have, for 25 years, coincided with major evolutions in European context.
First of all, the entry of Basin Management in the structure of European policies. The Water Framework Directive (WFD) in 2000 and the Flood Directive in 2007 indeed generated needs for the Member States and European stakeholders of water management, such as the adoption and development of technical and financial tools and methods for governance, information management, etc., which are the core activities of the International Office for Water.
On the other hand, the enlargement phases of the European Union, with the candidatures and entry of new Member States, also allowed to strengthen OiEau's role in international institutional cooperation, especially in support of the French State to the European twinning programmes. As well, the evolution of the European neighbourhood policy was also a fruitful field for OiEau and its expertise in the sectors of water management and international project engineering.
Finally, in connection with the sharp and recognized expertise of the Office in France and abroad, many European support programmes for research and innovation allowed our organization to support these approaches on the fields of innovation support and the contributions of research to the implementation of public policies in Europe. Furthermore, the European experience provides developing countries with fundamental elements in terms of governance, planning methodology and cost recovery. It is never a question of duplicating these tools, but adapting this experience and these "fundamentals" to other legal, institutional, cultural, socio-economic and climatic contexts is always useful and structuring. It allows us to foresee solutions and to apply them locally.
Integrated Water Resource Management, innovation, technologies, transboundary cooperation and biodiversity preservation are among the main topics of OiEau's work. How did and still do these lines of action contribute to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive?
There are many past and current European projects that contribute to the European objectives. On the one hand, we can mention the twinning arrangements to accompany the alignment to the European Community achievements in the field of water management in the European neighbourhood for the Member States in the process of accession... Currently, a twinning is underway in Algeria.
Overall, for the past 25 years, the countries covered by European projects are numerous and cover more than 20 countries.
Within the EU neighborhood policy, one can also quote as structuring project the current EU4Environment Water and Data project which covers five countries of the neighborhood and for which OiEau ensures the coordination of the activities on data, IWRM planning and communication for the whole program.
The CARIBSAN project to promote planted filters for water treatment in the Caribbean is also an example of OiEau's contributions.
The Bio-Plateaux project also helps French Guiana in its dialogue with the neighbouring territories (Amapa region in Brazil and Suriname) for the knowledge of the Oyapock and Maroni river basins, in the gradual creation of a transboundary water and aquatic biodiversity observatory on these areas. The structuring of shared governance and joint planning should be medium-term objectives in the framework of Phase 2 of this project.