Environmental Science and Policy, Volume 114, December 2020,
Recent policy developments in Europe consider the importance of water ecosystems to human wellbeing and the detrimental effects that multiple pressures may have on them. Several directives and measures which culminated with the design and the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, have attempted to address the issue of sustainable water management while aligning with targets of economic development. We review the European Water Framework Directive keeping in mind the commitment to the United Nation’ Agenda to 2030 with the aim to identify complementarities and missing parts in aligning regional policies to global targets for sustainable development. Towards this end the management plans in selected river basins, Ebro-Spain, Adige-Italy, Evrotas-Greece, Sava- Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Anglian-UK, are examined. The analysis shows that despite significant steps towards integrated management of water bodies in Europe, it is still necessary to improve policy design and implementation to align with global sustainable development targets. Appropriate supportive methodologies must be developed that consider the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of water management. Policies should aim for environmental agreements, alternative climate change scenarios, transparent quantitative measures targeting sustainable demand of water and explicit infrastructure and knowledge transfer channels which can accelerate the implementation of sustainable water management at regional and global level.