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Code of Ethics

The concept

At the Water Associations Worldwide seminar at the World Water Forum in The Hague the European Water Association (EWA) introduced the idea of ethical behaviour of water professionals. At the seminar we presented some generally accepted basic principles formulated as "Ten Commandments" which could serve as the foundation on which new water ethics could be developed. Furthermore, it was suggested to introduce an oath to be taken by individual members when they enter the water management profession. Finally EWA offered to take the lead on behalf of the Water Associations Worldwide for the further development of these ethical principles.

Since The Hague a small task group developed the idea of a Code of Ethics for the European Water Association and its national member associations. It worked in conjunction with a similar working group in the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) which serves UK and Eire. A number of changes have been made:

  • The Code is now one which can be adopted by a professional body and its individual members which would be expected to comply with it
  • It is less evangelical and more practical
  • There is the possibility to broaden the issue to include all environmental activities to allow for the diversity of our organisations and to state the commitment of water professionals to the wider environment. However, the Code is very easily expressible in water terms and that version will be presented here.

There is some merit in adopting the same wording throughout all organisations to ensure harmony across Europe but it is recognised that, in practice, there may be variations. For example, some may wish to express the principles in a paragraph rather than ten bullet points; others may wish to choose a slightly different form of words to aid understanding - for example, the words ‘ensure’ and ‘promote’ may replace each other just like some may wish to replace ‘water’ with ‘environment’ to emphasise the focus of their organisation. So at the heart of the acceptance of the Code of Ethics by the water associations is acceptance of the principles.