WETWIN : Enhancing the role of wetlands in integrated water resources management for twinned river basins in EU, Africa and South-America in support of EU Water Initiatives

Project identifier 107-WETWIN
Project Status finished
Start date 2008-11-01
End date 2011-12-31
Roadmap Theme
  • Sustainable intensification: Soil, water, land and input management
  • Sustainable intensification: Organizational innovations
  • Type of Project Development and innovation oriented (research) project
    Type of Project Institutional capacity building project
    Programme FP7 Environment
    Keyword Wetland; wetland degradation; water resource management; local stakeholders; adaptive management; governance
    Location Mali; Uganda; South Africa; Austria; Hungary; Germany; Ecuador
    Budget 2 921 962
    Main Funder Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) (FP7)
    Coordinator Environmental Protection and Water Management Research Institute (VITUKI)
  • Antea Group Belgium
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Water Cluster Lunz
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
  • Wetlands International
  • National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC)
  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • Escuela Superior PolitĂ©cnica del Litoral (ESPOL)
  • Project Web Site http://www.wetwin.eu/index.html
  • Report on Stakeholder Analysis and Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement
  • Guidance for the application of Vulnerability Assessment and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis in integrated wetland management
  • Description

    Executive summary of final results:

    Although wetlands provide valuable ecosystem functions and services on both local and basin scales, they tend to be in degraded state worldwide. The WETWIN project aimed at revealing the factors endangering wetlands at present and in the future, and at supporting the identification of strategies for their restoration and sustainable management. The project investigated 7 wetlands from Europe, Africa and South America as case studies.

    Besides pressures like desiccation, pollution and encroachment, insufficient institutional capacity is also found responsible for the degradations. Institutional analyses showed that in most cases the institutional and legal framework for water and wetland policies is in place; the biggest bottleneck observed is the lack of implementation. In addition, there is a mix of new formal legislation and procedures, having been put in place recently, and informal instruments and practices from the past, which are still used by wetland managers and stakeholders. Thus, wetlands require improved institutional capacity with the overall objective to bring the degradation to a halt.

    Model-based vulnerability assessments proved that degradation of wetlands will continue in the future, bringing them to the edge of total destruction. Wetlands in tropical regions are exposed to the negative impacts of population growth, climate change and upstream water uses. Wetlands along regulated rivers are threatened by desiccation caused by river bed incision and floodplain aggradation. The current management strategies are unable to cope with these threats. It has been concluded that local management interventions need to be coupled with basin-scale actions to turn the state of wetlands from vulnerable to resilient.

    The WETWIN approach

    for stopping and reversing the degradation of wetlands is based on four basic premises: wise use; adaptive management; integrated water resource management; and participation of local stakeholders. The project developed and tested a Decision Support Framework, which provides a structured approach to identifying and evaluating management solutions. Evaluations were carried out with the help of models and qualitative tools.

    Involvement of stakeholders from the case study sites played a crucial role in the project. Trade-offs between different stakeholders were explicitly addressed. Stakeholders often side-stepped conflict and trade-offs by seeking compromise within the proposed management solutions: that is, by seeking solutions that packaged measures responding to the concerns of all groups ('no-regret' solutions). Managing for multiple ecosystem services inherently involved maintaining the health of the wetland, and vice versa.

    The case studies also shed an interesting light on the realities of interactions between scales. Stakeholders were usually aware of the potential impacts of catchment development on their wetland, but saw these impacts as outside their sphere of influence and hence as inevitable. Whereas stakeholders were prone to propose no-regret solutions at the local scale, they accepted imposed trade-offs at the larger scale. This reflects the realities of the governance structures, where devolution of management responsibility to local agencies is relatively recent and not matched by changes in the real balance of power in decision making. Conversely, in most cases, management of the wetland was seen a primarily local concern with little relevance for those outside the area.