RFTB joined the political seminar Water – Challenge or Opportunity on October 26th organised by Lake Mälaren Water Conservation Association (Vattenvårdsförbund) as part of the project “Mälaren – en sjö för miljoner” See event here.

With over 2 million people depending on Lake Mälaren for drinking water, the case for clean lake water is outstandingly important. The seminar brought together the region’s politicians to share and explore best practice and collaboration opportunities. The Mälaren region is a top in class example of how local governments have joined forces to share best practices and solutions for improved water quality.

Lake Mälaren Conservation Association (Vattenvårdsförbund) joined with 50 politicians from surrounding municipalities and relevant NGOs, to discuss concrete example on how we can move from water challenge into an opportunity for local sustainable economic development and healthy communities.

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County Governor, Minoo Akhtarzand called for collaboration and more focus on water in her opening the words, “We need to move water up on the agenda. The purpose of us meeting here today is to not only gather inspiration and share best practice, but also to collaborate.”

For the City of Västerås, the water planning process started over 10 years ago, and is now considered an inspirational example for the neighbouring municipalities. Staffan Jannson, town Councillor for the municipality of Västeras, explained that the key to their success has been the political engagement and support.

Behind the measures to restore water quality in Mälaren, there is the ultimate question of prioritizing and financing the cost-effective solutions.

RTFB Director’s Barbara Jackson presented the Business Case for Clean Water and future scenarios from the BCG report “Restoring Waters in the Baltic Sea Region”. The report emphasizes the multiple benefits that will result from investing in waters in the Baltic Sea Region.

Discussions at the seminar also revolved around the implementation of the new Program of Measures developed by the Swedish government to meet the EU Water framework Directive. Many cities are aspiring to be leaders and to be recognized as leaders in water issues, but as Barbara Jackson expressed it, “Government funding will not be enough to tackle such complex challenges such as climate and water. We must work together to find new innovative financing models and start thinking outside the box.”

The key learnings we took out from this day were:

– Political leadership and support is key to making the full shift to a sustainable water programme in cities

– Planning and the use of strategic lens is essential to capturing local benefits on water investments

– Cities can leverage local stakeholders and the private sector, as well as work across borders to broader the range of solutions

– There are benefits from water investments, but they need to be made more visible on the political agenda

– We must work together to find new innovative financing models and start thinking outside the box.

Race For The Baltic works to identify sustainable blue investment opportunities and is working to facilitate an eco-system that will support the development of the new solutions and financing models.