As part of APPLiA’s social impact day, members of the Secretariat volunteered to take part in a clean-up of river Train, tributary of the Dyle, which flows through the Belgian provinces of Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant and Antwerp.
The activity was organised by the Give a day cooperative movement and conducted by non-profit organisation Aer Aqua Terra, which aims to clean up all polluted sites, including rivers, for ecological, social and economic purposes. As part of the cleanup process, waste such as plastics, glass, metals, and general pieces of rubbish were extracted from the river bed, before being placed in the respective bins for each item.
Pollution of Europe’s freshwater ecosystem presents a challenge for nature, society, and the economy to overcome. A healthy environment provides a source of essential fresh water, which is becoming evermore scarce due to population growth and the impact of climate change on water cycles. According to a study carried out by the European Environment Agency (EEA), not even half of all European waters are considered to be healthy. The study indicates that only about 40% of Europe’s surface waters reach good ecological status and just 38% reach good chemical status. This is simply not good enough. Efforts must be taken by society as a whole to tackle this prominent and increasingly challenging issue, in order to achieve Europe's freshwater and marine-related environmental targets.
The activity also acted as a team building exercise, with all members of staff having fun along the way. After a full day’s work, the Secretariat’s efforts resulted in 250 kilograms of waste being taken from the river, aiding Aer Aqua Terra on their mission to reduce their average of 1 ton of waste collected from the river, every 10 days.
Overall, the day was an eye-opening and worthwhile experience, raising further awareness about the importance and complexity of the unfolding of environmental pollution, as part of Europe’s concerted efforts to tackle climate change.