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River basin management Rhine river basin. Mark Wiering Political Sciences of the Environment (Faculty of Management Sciences). River Rhine. The River Rhine. Rhein (in Germany ) Rijn (in Dutch) Waal –Nederrijn –Ijssel France ; Rhin Suisse: Rein, Rhy and Rhing (re/ ri = to flow). Rhine.

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River basin management rhine river basin

River basin management Rhine river basin

Mark Wiering

Political Sciences of the Environment

(Faculty of Management Sciences)

River rhine

River Rhine

The river rhine

The River Rhine

  • Rhein (in Germany )

  • Rijn (in Dutch) Waal –Nederrijn –Ijssel

  • France ; Rhin

  • Suisse: Rein, Rhy and Rhing

  • (re/ ri = to flow)



  • Springs at the Suisse Alps

  • Important tributaries: Moselle river (left) and right: Neckar, Main, Lahn, Sieg, Ruhr, Lippe

  • 1320 km (fourth river of Europe, after Volga, Danube, Dnieper)

  • Waterway, river ecosystem, also border between countries – Suisse and Austria; Suisse and Germany, France and Germany (sometimes at war)

International co operation for the protection of the rhine icpr

International Co-operationfor the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)

  • Problems:

  • Chemical pollution

    • From industries

    • Fromagriculture

  • Salination (salt), (Frenchsalt mines)

  • Temperature of the Rhine (alsoclimatechange!)

  • General ecology of the Rhineecosystem

  • (later Flooding issues)

Development of the rhine regime

Development of the Rhine regime

Five turning points (Dieperink, 1998):

  • 1949: first informal consultative body for Rhine river basin (initiative of Netherlands and Suisse)

  • Treaty of Bern (1963): formalising co-operation

  • Ministerial Conference riparian states Rhine (1972)

  • 1976: The Rhine Treaties on chloride and chemical pollution

  • 1986 : Rhine Action Program/ new Treaty on the protection of the Rhine

Characteristics of the regime

Characteristics of the regime

  • Generally viewed as succesful co-operation. Why?

  • From bilateral conflicts to the river basin as a whole: increases ‘problem symmetry’

  • Increasing knowledge of river basin, ecology, creating epistemic community, professionalisation of involved parties

  • Increasing homogeneity of societal values

Characteristics of the regime part 2

Characteristics of the regimepart 2

  • Options for trade offs in negotiation

  • A downstream state (NL) that is active and alert, and that has ‘something to offer’

    • Financial compensation, or otherwise compensation

  • Safe platform for knowlegde exchange and political negotiation

  • Comprehensive regime: all of the basin, and different topics discussed.

What is river basin management

What is River basin Management?

  • Three ambitions

  • 1. Integrating elements of the water system

    • Water quality- water quantity

    • Flooding and drought

    • Ground water – Surface water

    • Water chain management

  • = Internal integration

  • What is river basin management1

    What is River basin Management?

    2. water management and other policy fields

    • Water management and land use

    • Water management and recreation

    • Water management and housing

    • Water management and nature, etc.

      Policy fields:

      Spatial planning; agriculture; housing; nature conservation

  • = External integration

  • What is river basin management2

    What is River basin Management?

    3. Cross border water management

    - geographical borders

    - administrative borders (regions, administrations)

    “rivers are not impressed by geographical boundaries”


    “Administrations do not always care much about rivers”

    • =cross border integration

    Rbm and institutions

    RBM and institutions

    • RBM = a policy concept (the three ambitions; part of new discourse)

    • RBM = new ‘rules of the game’

    • RBM = new policy organisations”?

    • RBM = new policy resources?

    Reasons for rivercross

    Reasons for Rivercross

    • Why co-operation in water management?

    • Safety issues/ Flooding management/ Risk Management

    • Water quality issues and Hydro-morphology in River Basin Management

    • [Water Framework Directive]

    • [Flooding Management Directive?]

    • Nature conservation/ Landscape/Spatial Planning/Tourism?

    Partners in rivercross 2

    Partners in Rivercross (2)

    • Netherlands-Germany:

    • Water quality (Twente)

    • River restoration (UDE)

    • Flooding (Nijmegen)

    Objectives of rivercross

    Objectives of Rivercross

    • To investigate success and failure of regional cross-border co-operation throughout Europe

    • To improve scientific knowledge on the determinants of successful cross-border co-operation

    • To formulate policy advice on how to improve cross-border river basin management

    • To exchange experiences in cross-border river basin management and to build networks of water managers

    Analysis using the policy arrangements approach 2

    Analysis using the policy arrangements approach (2)

    • Actors

    • Interests of these actors (both water related as well as other interests)

    • Resources of these actors (money, knowledge, manpower etc)

    • Legislation

    • Political culture (policy styles, organisational styles)

    • Discourse (policy concepts used)

    Regional cross border co operation in the river rhine

    Regional cross-border co-operation in the river Rhine

    An example

    Gelderland north rhine westphalia border area

    Gelderland-North Rhine Westphalia border area

    River Rhine Dutch-German cross-border area

    New initiatives after flood threats of 1995

    New initiatives after flood threats of 1995

    • International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine installs Working Group on Flooding

    • Regional Dutch-German Working Group on High Water

    Working group high water

    Working Group High Water

    Dutch participants

    • Province Gelderland

    • Rijkswaterstaat Eastern Netherlands

    • Waterschap Rivierenland

    • Union of Dutch River Municipalities

    • RIZA

    German participants

    • Dep. Environment NRW

    • District Düsseldorf

    • LUA NRW

    • StUA Krefeld

    • Kreis Cleves

    • Union of Deichverbände

    Activities of the working group

    Activities of the Working Group

    • Joint research

      • Effects of extremely high water on Lower Rhine

      • Cross-border coordination of measures to reduce flood risks

      • Risk analysis of cross-border dike rings at the Lower Rhine

    • Communication

      • Regular meetings

      • Magazine

      • Two yearly conference

    • Joint projects

      • Might be started in the future

    Extent of co operation in the working group

    Extent of co-operation in the Working Group

    • Extent of co-operation in the Working Group

      • Difficult to judge effects on flood protection

      • Considerable output (research, communication)

      • Participant’s opinion: high levels of satisfaction

    • Possibilities for improvement

      • No focus on related issues yet (e.g. disaster management)

      • No joint projects yet

    Helpful regarding the dutch policy arrangement

    Helpful regarding the Dutch policy arrangement

    • Positive:

      • Dutch organisations share the water system with their upstream neighbours from North Rhine Westphalia and depend on the organisations from North Rhine Westphalia

      • Large availability of resources especially money and manpower

      • German knowledge is made available for Dutch organisations

      • Cross-border co-operation has always been an important theme in the Netherlands

    Helpful regarding the nrw policy arrangement

    Helpful regarding the NRW Policy Arrangement

    • Positive:

      • The organisations in North Rhine Westphalia are dependent on the organisations in upstream German states and stress a discourse of solidarity between upstream and downstream neighbours

      • Cooperation with the Dutch also makes it possible for them to strengthen their position by using Dutch resources (especially knowledge, but also money and manpower)

    The nrw policy arrangement 2

    the NRW Policy Arrangement (2)

    • Problematic:

      • There is no representative from the Federal Navigation Authority

      • Low availability of resources especially money and manpower

    Differences and similarities between policy arrangements

    Differences and similarities between Policy Arrangements

    • Positive:

      • Similar policy styles in both countries

      • Large similarities between the national discourses (‘Space for the River‘)

    • Problematic

      • Large differences between legal frameworks (e.g. expropriation is much more difficult in Germany)

    Characteristics of the initative itself working group

    characteristics of the initative itself (Working Group)

    • Positive:

      • All organisations have a regional background

      • Low involvement of politicians

      • Preference to discuss technical topics

      • Informal meeting habits during co-operation

    • Problematic:

      • Low involvement of politicians

      • In formal legal status / restricted mandate



    • Co-operation is easier when differences between the countries involved are not too big (similar arrangements)

    • Start with low profile co-operation

      • Low level of engagement of politicians

      • Priority for technical topics

    • Stress shared interests

      • Try to contact organisations with a similar regional background

      • Make knowledge, money and other resources available for organisations in the other country

    • Carefully create a discourse that stresses the importance of cross-border co-operation

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