Interview with Leonardo Mazza
by Big-Jump-Team EN
Leonardo Mazza, European Environmental Bureau, Senior Policy Officer: Biodiversity, Water & Soil Protection
Meet Leonardo Mazza
Leonardo is responsible for biodiversity, water and soil protection issues within the EEB. He is an environmental economist by training, with a Master's in Environmental Policy and Regulation from the London School of Economics, and a double Master’s degree in Sustainable Development and International Affairs. Prior to joining the EEB he worked for 6 years as an environmental policy consultant, most recently at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), where he was Senior Policy Analyst within the Environmental Economics Programme. He speaks English, French, German and Italian.
BJC: What is the EEB and what do you do for water protection in Europe?
LM: The EEB is Europe's largest federation of environmental organizations and acts as the ears and voice of its members towards the EU decision makers and beyond. We work on a vast array of environmental issues and our policy officers use experts, scientists, our members, and politicians to work towards developing and protecting environmental policies. With regards to water more specifically we have a water working group which comes together twice a year to form EEB policy by sharing experiences and knowledge on how to improve water management in Europe, including identifying ways to deal with main pressures (e.g. hydromorphological pressures, pollution), and discussing the latest scientific knowledge and initiatives. They also devise strategies on influencing decision- and policy-making processes at the EU and MS level.
BJC: What is your role in the WFD implementation process?
LM: We follow and contribute to a number of issues in the context of WFD implementation. Right now we are busy advocating for a second generation of River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) that are truly ambitious in terms of what they set out to achieve and include the measures necessary to achieve significant improvements in water quality. We call in particular for existing dams and dykes to be looked at critically to investigate whether they are really needed or could be removed or adapted in order to restore the structure of our water bodies and improve the water flow, thus improving water quality. We are also keen for those plans to transparently look into the main causes of water pollution at river basin level and to take measures leading to a reduction in these pressures.
BJC: In July 2015 the EEB supports the Big Jump Challenge with the organisation of the European Rivers Parliament in Brussels. What are your expectations for the parliament?
LM: We expect the European Parliament to listen to the demands of European citizens who want to be able to re-connect with their rivers and lakes and believe that a better balance can be achieved between using Europe’s freshwaters for irrigation, energy, transportation and as a sink for pollution and using them for leisure and nature conservation. In the long run in many cases, the long-term improvement of the quality of life of European citizens this will bring will by far outweigh the short term economic benefits from the unsustainable overexploitation of our freshwater ecosystems.
BJC: What is your message for the participants of the Big Jump Challenge?
LM: Whether you jump in May, June or on 12 July, I hope you’ll have great weather and wish you a great time jumping into the river! In the long run you might also want to become more seriously committed to preserving Europe’s unique and fragile water ecosystems and get involved with local nature conservation groups and help them reclaim our rivers: they have the potential to be so much more than just sinks for our pollution and waterways for large tankers!
BJC: Last but not least: have you already participated in a Big Jump? (if not, will you join us this year?)
LM: I very much enjoy swimming but never participated in a “Big Jump” and, like most people of my generation, I’ve never lived near a water course clean enough to safely take a bath in it. This probably just shows how much work is left before European citizens can confidently jump into their closest river or lake. This time it looks like I’ll have to travel a longer distance to take part in the Big Jump but yes, I intend to participate as I think it’s a great initiative!
This interview was conducted by Léa Bigot from the Big Jump Challenge Team