“When communicating about water, striking the balance is essential”
Water Europe is an advocate and champion for innovation and research in water-related activities within Europe. To learn a bit more about what role communication plays within the organization, we had the chance to speak with Maria Mirachtsi, Communications Manager at Water Europe.
How do you think communication in the water sector has evolved in recent years?
Over the past decade, I've witnessed a transformation in how communication is approached in the water sector. When I first entered this field, communication was typically a secondary item on the agenda, social media use was limited to the basics, with relatively few active profiles of water professionals. In the last few years, this has changed a lot. More and more water professionals are now passionate about communicating about water, and effective communication has become a crucial element in discussions, from daily meetings to major conferences. I consider this shift a positive change that we should actively nurture and further develop if we want to reach a broader audience and make a meaningful impact.
Why do you think it is important to communicate about water?
Water is often taken for granted. Unless you work in the water sector, there is little realization that water is a finite resource. Of course, everybody hears about the water challenges, but water is so integral to our living that it is hard to think, or there is even some unconscious avoidance in thinking about all the consequences that water challenges could bring to our lives. So, raising awareness is vital to me. However, moving forward, we need to focus on ways to address these challenges. To do this, we need to engage the entire society. Together with the public and private sectors, research institutions and policymakers, we need to have citizens, young people and all groups of our society involved. This collective, multi-stakeholder effort is essential for taking concrete actions and ensuring sustainable, secure and resilient water in Europe and across the world. So, what could be more important than using communications to make this happen?
More and more water professionals are now passionate about communicating about water, and effective communication has become a crucial element in discussions
What are the most challenging aspects of communicating water-related news?
The water sector is still very much fragmented, so when communicating water to stakeholders coming from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the first challenge is to be able to use a language that resonates with each stakeholder group, catering to their needs, while maintaining a balanced and inclusive approach. The complexity of water-related topics is the other challenge that most communicators encounter when entering the field. Water-related topics often involve technical language and scientific jargon. So, our role is to translate technical details into a language that doesn’t oversimplify or distort the message but instead presents it in a concrete, and still engaging way. Striking this balance is essential.
Could you highlight one of Water Europe’s communication success stories?
One of Water Europe’s communication success stories, which I consider very important, has to do with the concept of the Water-Smart Society. Seven years ago, when Water Europe first introduced this concept, it was a new and unfamiliar term. However, through strategic and persistent communication and awareness-raising efforts, the Water-Smart Society concept has gained recognition in the sector. This success story is exemplified by the wide uptake of the Water-Smart Society narrative in many EU policy documents, such as the recent reference in the Call for an EU Blue Deal, as well as EU funding programmes and research and innovation projects. Earlier this year, the UN World Water Development report referred to the Water-Smart Society and the Water-Oriented Living Labs (WOLLs) as leading examples of partnerships and cooperation in Europe. The Water-Smart Society has become part of the everyday vocabulary of water professionals, and I believe this achievement demonstrates the power of communication in introducing new concepts and making them well-understood and broadly adopted.