Cross-sectoral cooperation as a basis for contemporary river corridor management

The 45-page SEE River Project’s final publication entitled “Towards Contemporary Rivers in South-East Europe” has been released online. The publication is available in English and in 9 other languages.

The contemporary river is a river managed in a way that ensures the accomplishment of all conservation and development sectoral goals, initiatives and measures as well as interests of riparian local communities and inhabitants.

In 2008, when the Drava River Vision was adopted in Maribor, Slovenia, 10 goals for sustainable future of the Drava River as a contemporary river were determined. Probably nobody was aware of its influence and contribution to future river management and restoration processes. During the following years, going far beyond the Drava River basin, it was decided to meet other South-East European rivers to bring them closer to their contemporary modes.

An established common vision of one river inspired an international interdisciplinary team of experts from 26 public institutions, administrations and NGOs in the field of water management and nature protection, located in 12 South-East European EU and non-EU member countries from the Danube River and the Mediterranean Sea drainage basins, to initiate complex processes of contemporary river corridor management on 6 very different transboundary rivers: Drava, Bodrog, Neretva, Prut, Soča and Vjosa.

The SEE River project has addressed cross-sectoral river corridor management issues in the South-East European countries. This was a highly challenging professional experience for the institutions and the individuals involved. The region is a diversity of cultures, languages, perceptions, capabilities, terminologies, approaches, technical solutions, and therefore also river management related institutional frameworks, administration systems and management practices. Furthermore, social and political circumstances were also important factors and even extreme floods and events in the last year of the project did not stop the work in the affected regions.

The partnership faced many challenges as a whole and on each pilot site. How to manage such a complex issue, who are the partners and what positions do they possess in their countries? Which sectors are the players, which stakeholders should be involved in individual pilot cases? How to ensure an effective project process and the methods applied as well as the comparability of the results at local, national and international levels? Similar questions were on the daily agenda of the partners’ work.

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The SEE River project is led by the Institute for Water of Slovenia and involving 25 more partners from 12 countries, the project aims at developing innovative approaches to contemporary river corridor management by engaging stakeholders along 6 international rivers in the South East Europe. It is co-funded by the EU in the framework of the Territorial Cooperation Programme South East Europe.