Urban Water Atlas for Europe

360-degree view on water management in European cities

Last week the European Commission published the Urban Water Atlas for Europe, a complete panorama of water management in European cities. Combining art with science, the atlas illustrates the role of water in cities and presents best practices, viable solutions and cutting edge developments that can help save this vital and valuable resource.

The Urban Water Atlas for Europe aims to raise public interest and participation in water issues by combining the work of scientists, artists, politicians and municipal stakeholders with that of schoolchildren and teachers, and presenting it in a new, accessible and attractive format. The atlas also attempts to change traditional perceptions of water being a free and infinite resource, and encourages its conservation. The atlas provides a wealth of information on best practices, viable solutions and cutting-edge developments that can be used to inspire city officials and urban water experts. The simple language and intuitive illustrations also make the atlas suitable for teachers and children, who can play an important role in protecting water resources.

KWR’s City Blueprints for 40 cities

The City Blueprints, developed by KWR, show cities’ performance in terms of overall water management in more than 40 European cities and regions, together with a number of overseas examples. The City Blueprints illustrate each city’s water demand and availability, flood and drought risk, trends and pressures. For each city, the atlas also provides the Blue City Index, which varies from 0 to 10. This is the overall score based on the 25 indicators of the City Blueprint. In Europe Amsterdam is the best performing city with a BCI of 8.3.

Water footprint based on food consumption

Another interesting feature of the atlas is the fact that a lot of water is required to produce food, but very different quantities are needed for the production of different types of foods. The illustrations of the atlas show that by shifting to healthier diets (i.e. less meat) and by avoiding food waste, a lot of water can be saved in Europe.


The Urban Water Atlas is the fruit of collaboration between the Commission’s Science and Knowledge Service – the Joint Research Centre, Fundació CTM Centre Tecnològic, KWR, Utrecht University, the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water), and the Network for Water in European Regions and Cities (NETWERC H2O). The atlas was created within the framework of the BlueSCities project, funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation scheme.

Presentation of the Urban Water Atlas for Europe. From left to right Richard Elelman (CTM), Berd Gawlik (JRC), Karmenu Vella (Commissioner in charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Union), Kees van Leeuwen (KWR) and Stef Koop (KWR).