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Greece

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Area: 5888268 km2
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Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
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Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $1,517,452,471.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $65,244,055.00 - [4%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $115,453,909.00 - [8%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $22,843,164.00 - [2%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $156,122,692.00 - [10%]
  • Water Scarcity: $904,879,905.00 - [60%]
  • Water Management: $252,908,745.00 - [17%]

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

No challenges found.

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES Greece has a Mediterranean climate with mild and rainy winters, relatively warm and dry summers and many hours of sunshine almost all year. The coldest months are January and February, with mean minimum temperatures ranging between 5-10°C near the coasts and 0-5°C in mainland areas, and lower values (below freezing) in the northern part of the country. The warm season lasts from April until September. The warmest period is in July and August, with mean maximum temperatures in the range 29-35 C. Precipitation is concentrated in the cold period, with almost no precipitation in the warmest months. The amount of rainfall is approximately halved in the eastern part compared to the western part of the country [HNMS, 2009]. Greece has a long-term average annual precipitation of 652mm/year. The long-term average of annual renewable water resources is 74,250 million m³/year of which 78 per cent are considered internal water resources (57,915 million m³) and around 22 per cent are considered external water resources (16,335 million m³). As at 2009 the total dam (reservoir) capacity was 11,770 million m³. Climate change is said to directly affect weather conditions. Since the end of the 1990s, the temperature in Greece has been increasing, especially during the summer. There is a trend of decreasing precipitation, mainly between 1980 and 2000, with a trend of increasing precipitation over the following years. Extreme weather conditions, including flooding, drought, heat-waves and storms, also occur [NCESD, 2009]. The impacts of climate change may be environmental, economic and social (e.g. biodiversity loss, increased insurance in flood-risk zones, changing holiday patterns). However, in Greece, freshwater issues are related to quantity rather than quality. Greece has an uneven spatial mean annual and seasonal rainfall distribution, resulting in rather small catchment areas, small lakes and relatively small rivers, distributed throughout the country. In addition, the catchments in Greece are marked by high spatial differences in morphologic, climatic, hydrographical, petro-graphic and vegetative features. The hydro-geological conditions differ significantly with geographical latitude and longitude. The main aquifers have been formed either from depositions in layers of sand, gravel and shingle or from chalky rocks that become karst due to the flow of water through cracks that were shaped by tectonic movements. It should be emphasised that groundwater that flows in aquifers of the first category can be utilised more easily and therefore has already been exploited intensively. On the other hand, karst groundwater was not abstracted until 1968 and there is still the possibility of further utilisation. The overabstraction/exploitation of groundwater resources has in many instances led to the decline of the water table as well as to the deterioration of water quality, primarily through saltwater intrusion in coastal areas. There are 14 river basin districts in Greece. In the north there are the Thrace, the Eastern, Central and Western Macedonia, and the Epirus. In the central part of the country there are the Western and Eastern Sterea Ellada and the Attica. Finally, in the south there are the Northern, Eastern and Western Peloponnese, the Aegean islands and Crete. The majority of the River Basin Districts (RBD) - in which Greece is divided for an effective management of the water resources - use the largest percentages of their abstracted water for agriculture. In 2007, only in the Attica RBD did the water supply take the largest percentage of abstracted water, since the metropolitan area of Athens is the country’s largest urban centre, representing almost half of the country’s population.

1.1.2.WATER USE Water withdrawal in the country by the year 2007 was estimated to be 9,471 million m³. Of this, 61 per cent (5,820 million of m³) was from surface water, and 39 per cent was from groundwater abstraction (3,650 million m³). A very small portion of the water resources (10 million m³) were produced by desalination processes. This water abstraction can be itemized by user sector. By the year 2007, it was estimated that the water dedicated to agriculture reached 8,458 million m³. These resources were used in 128,000km² from the total area equipped for irrigation of 150,000km², which itself represents a significant percentage ( 47.9 per cent) of the area dedicated to cultivation. Water abstraction for urban purposes was estimated to be 846 million m³; and for industrial uses, 167 million m³. The growing demand for drinking water supply and irrigation has resulted in an intense and frequently unreasonable exploitation of water resources. The metropolitan areas of Athens, Thessaloniki and Patra, which account for most of the population and economic activities, are geographically distant from important water resources. On the other hand, peak demands from agriculture, the greatest water consumer, occur mainly in the summer period. During the same period, drinking water consumption is significantly increased due to tourist activity, especially in the islands where there are no water bodies of significant size. Consequently, available water quantities are presently declining and large areas have or soon will become deficient in water. Water demands in many cases are met by transporting water over long distances, resulting in increased capital, operational and maintenance costs.

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Until the middle of the last century, surface freshwater in Greece mainly followed the slow rhythm of natural changes, with little or no influence from human activities. However from the 1960s, a number of water bodies situated either in the vicinity of urban areas or in regions with increased agricultural and industrial activity, showed signs of pollution. The phenomena associated with Country Overview - Greece pollution have gradually grown and have recently started to influence smaller and previously unaffected water bodies. Urbanization has been a strong driver of land use change over the post-war period in Greece. Eight million people live in urban areas. Urbanization exacerbates some local environmental problems, such as air and noise pollution, traffic congestion and urban waste disposal. Inappropriate waste disposal and management practices may lead to the degradation of surface and ground waters, air pollution and forest fires. In addition, agricultural production has been intensified in productive areas and, in combination with bad land management, can be a threat for the soil. The implementation of the revised Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) by the year 2011 and the introduction of good agricultural practices, are expected to improve the soil condition in Greece (EEA, 2009). The catchments in Greece are marked by high spatial differences in morphologic, climatic, hydrographic, petrographic and vegetative features and variability in pollution impact . As a result, river and stream habitat, hydrochemical regime and biocommunity structure, vary considerably along their courses. In addition, research on ecological quality assessment is limited and geographically restricted, and classification systems are absent. Hence, the assessment of the ecological quality of Greek rivers is a complex task and needs a special approach, since an optimal ‘ecological quality assessment’ can only be achieved through regional adaptations. The nitrate concentrations in groundwater bodies generally reflect the relative importance and intensity of agricultural activities above them. Mean nitrate concentrations in groundwaters are above the background levels (10mg/l NO3), but well below the parametric value of 50mg/l NO3 [Drinking Water Directive]. Between 2000 and 2007, the annual average nitrate concentrations in Greek rivers decreased by approximately -43.5 per cent (from 2.67 to 1.51mg N/l), reflecting the effect of measures to reduce agricultural inputs of nitrate. Nitrate levels in lakes are generally much lower than in rivers and vary between 0.27mg N/l and 0.44 mgN/l over the period 2000 to 2007. The number of monitoring stations in lakes increased from 13 stations in 2000 to 26 stations in 2007. Phosphorus concentrations in Greek rivers and lakes have generally low levels over the period 2000 to 2007. In Greece, existing policies are effective in reducing loading discharges of nutrients and organics. Much progress was made during the period 1980 to 2008 in equipping Greece with sewerage and wastewater treatment systems, thus satisfying the objectives of the EU Urban Waste Water Directive 91/271/EC (UWWD). Water quality and safe sanitation are considered to be of a high priority and measures have been taken. There is a particular challenge in fully covering the water supply needs of the small islands and remote mountainous villages. In order to comply with the UWWD, by the end of 2008, 91 per cent of the population is expected to have wastewater treatment plants meeting the requirements of the directive, and 88 per cent of this population will be served by sewerage systems. There are 290 treatment plants in Greece, with 242 municipal wastewater treatment plants falling under the UWWD, and smaller plants making up the remainder. The authorities responsible for the operation of most treatment plants are the Municipal Services for Water Supply, but in cases of the Psytalia (Athens) and Thessaloniki treatment plants, the responsible authorities are EYDAP and DEYATH respectively.

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Organizations in Greece


Coca-Cola European Partners plc (CCEP) is a multinational bottling company dedicated to the marketing, production, and distribution of Coca-Cola products. CCEP was created on 28 May 2016 as a result of the combination of the three main bottling companies for … Learn More

To be the leading 24/7 beverage partner Learn More

The European Water Partnership (EWP) is an independent value based non-profit organization structured as an open and inclusive member association. The EWP harnesses European capacity, helps to coordinate initiatives and activities in international water issues and undertakes worldwide promotion of … Learn More

Figroglass is one of the global leaders in the Ice Cold Merchandisers (ICM) market and the principal supplier of glass packaging in the high growth markets of West Africa. Learn More

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global action network with over 3,000 Partner organisations in 179 countries. The network has 68 accredited Country Water Partnerships and 13 Regional Water Partnerships. The network is open to all organisations involved in … Learn More

Conserve water and help secure water access in those areas at greatest risk: Implement tools to reduce the water footprint of our hotels Mitigate water risk through stakeholder collaboration to deliver water stewardship at basin level Collaborate to ensure adequate … Learn More

To promote the environmental protection and sound environmental management in Greece. Learn More

Projects in Greece


CONNECTING is a project that will establish the EU as a global leader for climate resilience, collaborative processes, and innovation for Nature Based Solutions by drawing on the experiences from three selected front-running cities in this project: Genk (Belgium), Glasgow … Learn More

The main goal of this project is to halt the loss of cultural practices that benefit biodiversity in cultural landscapes. Background As commonly known, biodiversity improves the functions of ecosystems and prevents their collapse when environmental changes happen, providing to … Learn More

This project aims to improve the knowledge of the population of the Mediterranean monk seal at the eastern Mediterranean, monitoring their populations, contributing to the identification of critical habitat and creating or impulse conservation actions that would mitigate the negative … Learn More

Engagement with suppliers to promote best practices and awareness; We work with all our ingredients’ suppliers on the adherence to Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles which include clear requirements on Environment and Farm Management Systems helping to mitigate water risks. We … Learn More

SuWaNu Europe is a project focused on the reuse of treated wastewater in agriculture. The reason behind is that wastewater when treated according to appropriate standards and methods has a strong potential to complement conventional water resources used in agricultural … Learn More

Each of our operations in the Halkidiki region work to maintain strong relationships with local communities. The company also invests in water-related infrastructure and manages a comprehensive water balance model.Project ResultsWater balance model Learn More

We have solid water reduction programme (opex and capex for water reusing and water reduction initiatives); we set long-term water reduction targets - for the time being these targets are till 2020 and will be extended. We built our Top … Learn More

Suggested Resources

View the full list of 300+ resources at the Water Stewardship Toolbox

CAIR-CA has put together the following guide to some of the resources for workers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Learn More

In this policy brief the ILO offers comprehensive and integrated recommendations on the key areas of policy action that should form part of that response.The brief is addressed at ILO constituents (governments, employers and workers), policy-makers and the general public. Learn More

In this Nature feature, Johan Rockstrom and co-authors argue that identifying and quantifying planetary boundaries that must not be transgressed could help prevent human activities from causing unacceptable environmental change. Learn More

Inform and strengthen your company’s water management strategies and allow your investors to evaluate current water management activities against detailed definitions of leading practice. Learn More

Developers: Ceres

Nature-based solution (NBS) can improve degraded ecosystems, help sequester carbon, and manage the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events. Businesses are beginning to recognize the value of NBS for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Developed by a group of leading beverage businesses, this is an easy-to-use excel tool for beverage facilities to estimate direct costs associated with their most water- and resource- intensive processes, beyond just the cost of water from the tap. The … Learn More

An emphasis on gaps in WASH coverage and what role institutions play in battling COVID-19. Links and other resources provided. Learn More

Plan, Prepare and Respond- Breakdown for different industries on how to operate safely. Cleaning and disinfecting, Worker Safety, Support Resources, Mitigation Strategy Learn More

This report presents analysis of the response data from a sample of 783 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies. The report is aimed at companies and investors seeking to understand how they can play their part in delivering a … Learn More

The Toolbox connects your business to the latest tools, guidance, case studies, datasets, and more most relevant to you based on your circumstances and interests. It features more than 250+ resources from dozens of organizations and is updated every week. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate, Pacific Institute

This document is intended for WASH and C4D officers at country offices working together on the Covid19 outbreak preparedness and response. The document contains guidance on reviewing existing resources and coordination mechanisms, identifying the right intervention and considerations for sustainability … Learn More

Workers in office buildings may be at risk for exposure to the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists can take steps to create a safe and healthy workplace … Learn More

How to ensure the safety of your occupants and building water system and devices Learn More

The campaigns, which target audiences at home and in schools, promote improved health and hygiene practices, such as handwashing, the importance of connecting to the water supply and sanitation system, regular payments for service continuity, and improving sanitation and menstrual … Learn More

Constantly updated database for California nonprofits. Contains Advocacy and support links, funding opportunities, Federal resources and information, announcements and resources, employee and employer resources, and resources for individuals. Learn More

Technical guidance, WASH preparedness, webinars, checklists for health facilities, self assessments, and guidance on disinfectants. Learn More

The purpose of these guidelines is to highlight additional measures so that the integrity of the food chain is maintained, and that adequate and safe food supplies are available for consumers. Learn More

California and the federal government are providing broad assistance to small businesses and employers impacted by COVID-19. Learn More

CDC/EPA Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Includes Printable Materials Learn More

We’re here to help you overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. We offer multiple funding options for those seeking relief. Read more below. Learn More

NBS offer a promising contribution on how to enhance the availability and quality of water for productive purposes and human consumption, while preserving ecosystems. In this discussion paper, 21 case studies of water management processes are analysed, using a non-representative … Learn More

FAO has been emphasizing the need to accelerate a global transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems, advocating an integrated approach. This document focuses on the management of water for agricultural use. Learn More

The purpose of this document is to provide ministries (e.g. Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Water (MOW)), sub-national public health authorities, and implementing partners with a practical framework of action to both prepare for and mitigate community transmission of … Learn More

This document gives advice on: 1. Simple ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace 2. How to manage COVID-19 risks when organizing meetings &amp; events 3. Things to consider when you and your employees travel 4. Getting … Learn More

The Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard can be used to provide comparable quantification and robust analytics, helping corporations, governments, and researchers manage water resources and achieve greater water sustainability. Learn More

This guide outlines why and how investors engage on agricultural supply chain water risk. Learn More

Developers: WWF

In this link, you will find an overview of our measures and initiatives to support the health and livelihood of employees and communities in which we operate. Our three guiding principles: Health, safety, and trust of our people Safeguard the … Learn More

Developers: Heineken

Om Prasad Gautam, Khairul Islam, and Erik Harvey discuss the importance of handwashing with soap and water in reducing the risk of infection from COVID-19 and highlight the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector can and should do in response to … Learn More

To help our partners in responding to this health crisis in their countries, we have compiled different resources and tools around COVID-19 and WASH, which include documents, videos, social media materials with messages on public health, webinar recordings, etc. Learn More

Resources for the Long Beach community. Covers topics such as: Movement Strategy, Family Resource Government Resources Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

National Register Resources: Psychological resources and information. Learn More

OSHA has developed this interim guidance to help prevent worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2. The general guidance below applies to all U.S. workers and employers. Learn More

With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their core operations. This guide is meant as a stepping point to begin reopening with safety as a … Learn More

During an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current outbreak of COVID-19, small business owners must prepare for disruption in their business as well as prepare to protect their employees’ health and safety in the workplace. These steps are recommended … Learn More

Guidelines for supply chain workplaces to reopen with a robust WASH plan of action. Learn More

This report shows how putting nature to work can help deliver infrastructure services with greater impact and lower cost, all the while reducing risks from disaster, boosting water security and enhancing climate resilience. Learn More

The Coca-Cola Company is quantifying the water-related “Replenish” benefits derived through its Community Water Partnership (CWP) projects. The work described in this report builds on previous efforts, and provides a current status of quantification results for three categories of CWP … Learn More

Developers: Global Environment Technology Foundation (GETF), The Coca-Cola Company

Questions\ guidelines relating to food businesses answered by the WHO. Learn More

This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home. Learn More

SAVEh is the platform through which Ambev shares its water management system free of charge with other companies, which has helped to reduce more than 40% of the company’s water consumption in the last 13 years. This water efficiency tool … Learn More

Developers: Ambev S/A

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Compass Business Tools inventory maps existing business tools against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It allows you to explore commonly used business tools that may be useful when assessing your organization’s impact on the SDGs. Learn More

The Colorado River Basin states face significant water challenges, including the overallocation of water, long-term drought, and climate change. This report, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, explores the potential for corporate water stewardship to help solve these challenges. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The City of Austin, Texas is facing an increasingly uncertain water future, from decreasing water supplies and more intense droughts to periodic flooding and water quality impairments. Austin is addressing these challenges head on, from investments in water efficiency and … Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The world’s water resources are under increasing pressure from rising water consumption, pollution, and climate variability. The variety of water challenges companies face, from water governance issues to extreme events like drought, manifest in the river basins where the companies … Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report is a call to action, for the immediate health response required to suppress transmission of the virus to end the pandemic, and to tackle the many social and economic dimensions of this crisis. It is, above all, a … Learn More

The Soil &amp; Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is a small watershed to river basin-scale model used to simulate the quality and quantity of surface and ground water and predict the environmental impact of land use, land management practices and climate … Learn More

In response to the challenge of quantifying the business benefits, WaterAid, Diageo, GAP Inc., and Unilever have worked with PwC and ODI to develop a practical, step-by-step guide. The guide will help companies understand the business value of their WASH … Learn More

Developers: WaterAid

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation is the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice. The standard is complemented by a set of 12 quantitative performance indicators. By identifying “hotspots,” the indicators enable users to monitor … Learn More

The Forest Stewardship Council created the Principles of Forest Stewardship as a worldwide standard to promote environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Learn More

The AWS Standard is a globally-applicable framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management within a catchment context. Learn More

Developers: Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)

This paper provides examples of how to make progress in service delivery in and beyond the workplace. With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their … Learn More

This tool is an interactive map linking nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation outcomes based on a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

A deep dive into three areas for business action:1 Responsible Marketing 2 Accelerating Collaborative Action at the Country Level 3 Building Resilience and Good Practice Solutions for Business Learn More

This report explores the possibilities of scaling a circular economy, given the reality of the global economy and the complexity of multi-tier supply chains. Learn More

Developers: World Economic Forum

This page brings together water and sanitation-related information from UN-Water Members and Partners in the light of the coronavirus global emergency. UN-Water is working to ensure the most up-to-date information, resources, and guidance as they become available. Learn More

As the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the United Nations Global Compact is calling on business leaders everywhere to unite to support workers, communities, and companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A coordinated international plan involving the business sector will … Learn More

Water is the lifeblood of California, providing for the household needs of 40 million people and supporting one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, various commercial and industrial activities, and the health and viability of the state’s … Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

New figures from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) indicate that WASH services in health care facilities are sub-standard in every region. Learn More

Developers: UNICEF The United Nations Children's Fund

ILO Sectoral Policies and Governance and Tripartism Departments present four self-training modules, which adapt existing ILO training tools on OSH to provide governments, workers and employers with the necessary skills to implement the general principles contained in relevant ILO instruments. … Learn More

Companies are increasingly setting and pursing ‘water balance targets’ as part of their water stewardship strategies. The seeming simplicity of balance goals can be attractive – “we will restore a volume of water equal to the amount our business consumes.” … Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

To combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus and rebuild our economies during and after the pandemic, collective action on water is essential. Such action can help not only to contain the virus, but also to realize the human right … Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Learn More

CTCN; UNEP Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; Water Witness International; WaterAid; WBCSD Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

UNEP Learn More

IPIECA Learn More

Ceres Learn More

Ecolab Learn More

PRI; WWF Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; Pegasys; Water Witness International; WWF Learn More

The World Bank Learn More

UNEP-DHI Learn More

WBCSD Learn More

UN Water Learn More

OECD Learn More

UNICEF; WHO Learn More

River Threat Netwrok Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; WWF Learn More

Swedish Textile Water Initiative Learn More

Alliance for Water Stewardship Learn More

WaterAid Learn More

CEO Water Mandate Learn More

CEO Water Mandate Learn More

McKinsey Learn More

Toilet Board Coalition Learn More

Conservation International Learn More

U.S. General Services Administration Learn More

National Drought Mitigation Center Learn More

UNEP Learn More

USGS Learn More

UN Water Learn More

AT&T; EDF; Global Environmental Management Institute (GEMI) Learn More

OECD Learn More

SAI Platform Learn More

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