25.07.2013 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Hand in hand for Rivers. From local to transboundary, from top down to bottom up

© SEE River Project – Hand in Hand for Rivers Brochure

The SEE River Project intends to reach a common agreement on river corridor management for the harmonisation of both development and conservation interests. This will be achieved through a close cooperation of experts from a wide range of fields from different countries and the active involvement of stakeholders from local river areas and national or regional authorities. The project is introducing a new approach to river and land management by focusing on the river corridor as the selected, local river area where most pressures occur.

Harmonizing interests through combined approaches

Contemporary circumstances demand integrative and strategic river management, based on a combination of local, regional, national and transboundary approaches, as well as on knowledge and experiences in cross-sectoral reconciliation. For this purpose, SEE River intends to reach a common agreement on river corridor management for harmonizing both development and conservation interests along six selected rivers. This will be achieved by a close cooperation of experts from a wide range of fields from different countries, and active involvement of stakeholders from local river areas and regional or national authorities. The project is also introducing a new approach to river and land use planning management by focusing on the river corridor as the core part of the catchment area where most pressures occur. 

Developing a sustainable model and guidance 

Project activities and findings will result in the SEE River Toolkit, an innovative and generally applicable model and guidance on how to achieve future sustainable use of river corridors by taking into account and harmonizing stakeholder interests at different levels. It will be tested through the application at six international river corridors and integrated into the daily work by 26 organizations from 12 countries. The toolkit will promote techniques for communication, dialogue and facilitation. It will be prepared concretely, however general enough to ensure that it could be used on any river corridor. The project also aims at reaching stakeholder agreement on concrete actions at the six river corridors as a basis for future implementation and funding in the 2014-2020 EU financing period. 

Expected project results

The main expected project result is the Toolkit for Integrative Management of International River Corridors developed as a joint approach to integrative management of river corridors in SEE, tested through application on 6 international river corridors and integrated into their daily work by 26 organisations in partner countries. Other expected key results include: Drava River Action Plan for integrative management; Five multi-sectoral stakeholder agreements - Local Action Plans for management of five Pilot Areas on the Drava River corridor; Five Draft Action Plans for integrative management of the Bodrog, Neretva, Prut, Soca, and Vjosa river corridors; Directory of good practices of integrative management of international river corridors, follow-up project proposals prepared on the basis of future joint actions, Sustainability plan for future cooperation of the SEE RIVER network of experts, and others.

Performing a principle of work: active involvement of stakeholders

The SEE River Project is an open process in which constant and close cooperation with stakeholders is a principle of work, not only a method. Several activities on different expert fields are developed with the purpose to encourage and ensure stakeholders involvement in all phases of the project. Such principle of work improves the understanding of different attitudes, opinions and knowledge of all stakeholders well as t hose of partners. If we want to improve the water status, reduce the risk of floods, preserve nature, biodiversity and ecosystems, and at the same time encourage development, many sectoral, local, regional and national interests have to be respected, discussed and sometimes exceeded for sustainable management of the river corridor. Activities for and with stakeholders will be performed at SEE level, international river corridor level, national and regional levels, and local level.

Sharing Knowledge and Experience: partnerships

The project partnership consists of 26 of the most relevant institutions and international organisations involved in managing river corridors from 12 countries of South Eastern and Central Europe (SEE).They will combine and share knowledge, data, information and experiences from several expert fields: water management, nature protection, energy, spatial planning and others. Project partnership ensures cross-sectoral, vertical, local and transnational cooperation, and sustainability of project results for the involved countries and for the SEE region as a whole through partners' involvement in the relevant bodies and networks. The project is led by the Slovenian Institute for Water (IzVRS). The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), is affiliated to the project as an observer partner. 

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