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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)

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)

    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