My experience over the past three years or so in Brussels has put me into quite a lot of contact with people involved in EU policy as it relates to water.
It was for this reason that I accepted the invitation to participate in this competition. I felt as though I could bring something interesting to the event. Not by myself of course. I am no water expert, though I suspect that there are many more in this competition that have less knowledge than I...
This lack of expertise on my part is what made me consider the idea of conducting interviews with real experts. It also enabled me to try and cover more topics.
I also used the opportunity to try and push the EU blogosphere forwards. On my own blog, I wrote about my decision to take part and hinted at my big goals. My aim was actually to conduct a written interview with the Bulgarian Commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva. As far as I am aware, no EU blogger has ever interviewed a Commissioner for their blog. It seemed like the ideal target for me.
Alas, my connections within her press office came to nought and I failed. But I was still able to manage a brief written interview with the Vice President of the European Parliament's Water Intergroup, Satu Hassi. That alone made me proud.
Something that did surprise me, was just how few people actually responded to my requests for written interviews. All the requests I made (apart from to the Commissioner and Ms Hassi) were to people I have already met. Several are people that I have already met, and a few are people that I have previously interviewed on camera! It seems that even for water policy experts, being involved in a water policy debate isn't all that interesting. A great shame.
More than just a shame though, a real surprise. Having been involved in the EU media, I can tell you that most of the forty or so people I approached are usually desparate for some exposure.
One of the fascinating aspects of water policy is just how many other areas are involved. Things like health, climate change, energy, economics, business, travel, sport and on and on. Even amongst the EU water policy professionals, there do not appear to be any with expertise in all of those areas.
For example, my interview with Lauha from the European Small Hydropower Association in Brussels about hydropower was a great example of specificity. My own opinion, having spoken to many very well informed people in the energy sector and climate change lobby, is that hydropwer has a real chance of generating the clean energy that we need if we are to move to a low carbon economy. But could I have explained that as well myself? Not at all.
In fact, something that I have learned in meeting these experts is just how narrow their specific areas of knowledge are and how little overlap there seems to be between these fields. It was for this reason that I asked to interview Frederic from the European Water Association in Brussels. They are one of the few groups whose work seems to overlap many of these policy arenas.
However my entry and this competition turns out, I hope that it has helped to raise more awareness of the vital nature of water and water policy. It does seem to have been something left behind in recent years, but should really be at the forefront of our thinking about the environment, climate change, energy and human health.