Ministers sign protocol to improve CEE water quality

A new international Protocol on Water and Health, which aims to combat water related disease in Central and Eastern Europe, was signed in London this week.

The new measure is a key outcome of the 3rd Ministerial European Conference on Environment and Health which ended held in London today. The Protocol follows two years of negotiations. Its main aim is to help secure freshwater and sanitation for all, and it is particularly intended to help Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) where standards are often very low. Many cases of water-related disease could be avoided if standards were raised across the region, says the UK’s Department of Environment Transport and the Regions.

The Protocol’s main features are a commitment from every signatory government to: national targets for achieving safe drinking water and adequate sanitation; a sensible regulatory framework, including greater openness; monitoring and reporting of water-related disease.

The emphasis is on national actions, which can then be supported internationally using the same framework, via investment, aid and technical support – especially that coming from private sector and international agencies. The Protocol provides a framework within which countries can move towards the EU standards of water-related health.

Speaking at the WHO Environment and Health Conference, UK Environment Minister Mr Meacher said: “We are delighted to sign this important new measure, which aims to combat water related disease and improve the environment by improving the management of freshwater and sanitation, especially in central

and eastern Europe. We are particularly keen that the UK – both Government and industry – does what it can to make a success of implementing the Protocol where it is most needed.”

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