Water consumption

In 2017, the water exploitation index plus (WEI+) in Belgium amounted to 7.3%. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must remain below 20%. This objective will be reached by continuing the trend since 2000 (data available in November 2021). The water exploitation index plus is therefore developing favourably.

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Water consumption - Belgium - trend assessment

percentage of renewable freshwater resources

 20002005201020152017202020252030
observations6.16.47.15.47.3------
trend and extrapolation (November 2021)5.75.35.35.75.96.16.46.6
objective 20.020.020.020.020.020.020.020.0

EEA (2021), Development of the water exploitation index plus (WEI+), https://www.eea.europa.eu; Eurostat (2021), Water exploitation index, plus (WEI+) (source: EEA) [sdg_06_60], https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 28/09/2021); calculations FPB.

Water consumption - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of renewable freshwater resources

 199020002005201020122015201620172017//19902017//20122017//2000
Belgium8.76.16.47.15.35.44.47.3-0.76.71.1
EU27--8.28.86.38.48.46.88.4--0.00.1
//: Average Growth Rates

EEA (2021), Development of the water exploitation index plus (WEI+), https://www.eea.europa.eu; Eurostat (2021), Water exploitation index, plus (WEI+) (source: EEA) [sdg_06_60], https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 28/09/2021).

Definition: the water exploitation index plus (WEI+) is a measure of total fresh water use (cooling water is not counted) as a percentage of the renewable fresh water resources (groundwater and surface water) at a given time and place. The indicator is presented as annual average values. Annual calculations at national level, however, cannot reflect uneven spatial and seasonal distribution of resources and may therefore mask water scarcity that occurs on a seasonal or local basis. The data come from the European Environment Agency for Belgium and from Eurostat for the European Union.

Goal: the water exploitation index plus (WEI+) must remain below 20%.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development contains objective 34: “Renewable resources, in particular freshwater, will be exploited without compromising the ability of future generations to exploit them” (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

The European Environment Agency, which calculates the WEI+ indicator, considers values above 20% as an indication of water scarcity, while values equal or bigger than 40% indicate situations of severe water scarcity where the use of freshwater resources is clearly unsustainable (EAA, 2019).

The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe furthermore mentions as a milestone that "Water abstraction should stay below 20% of available renewable water resources" (European Commission, 2011).

On this basis, the water exploitation index plus should remain below 20%.

International comparison: the water exploitation index plus evolves in a relatively similar way at EU level and in Belgium, but at a higher level (8.4% in the EU27 and 7.3% in Belgium in 2017). When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with the poorest performance in 2017. In that year, Latvia ranked first with 0.2% and Cyprus last with 70.3%.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 6.4.2 - Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources.

Sources

  • General

    • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

    • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

    • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 24/09/2020).

    • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 24/09/2020).
  • Specific

More information is available in French and Dutch.