NGO warns Portugal is “living on water it doesn’t have”

Portugal is living on water it doesn’t have. The message comes on World Biodiversity Day from ANP/ WWF, the Portuguese branch of international NGO World Wildlife Fund which is trying to alert the country – on all levels – to what measures should be taken.

Families, businesses and politicians must all be involved in ‘reverting the situation’.

Ways forwards are not simply conservation and rehabilitation of healthy aquatic ecosystems, they require ‘non-financing of irrigation projects in areas where water is already scarce’ and the efficient use of water and reduction of demand.

The advice conflicts with recent government news that €60 million is being made available for irrigation projects in the Alentejo (click here), and it loses its impact somewhat when one realises that this is the view of an environmental NGO.

However large, respected or correct the WWF may be, it could be an uphill struggle to get meaningful institutional support.

Nonetheless, ANP/ WWF’s message is for “citizens, companies, agents within the agricultural sector and the State to commit to the sustainable use of water in a country that is partially affected by water scarcity and where this reality is expected to get worse”.

Criticising the government for forever referring to ‘periods of drought’, the NGO’s advice is it’s time to ‘face the facts’: Portugal’s long, rainy winters are a feature of the past. We are in the grip of climate change and water is becoming ever more scarce. The only sustainable way forwards is to adopt “responsible measures throughout the water usage chain” – and that includes facing a structural problem nationally: the abuse of water in agriculture (click here).

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