The role of civil society

Over the past decade there has been a revolution in river management, helped by the existence of clear legislation, such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and national initiatives, principally the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA). Across England, over 100 catchment partnerships are working with numerous community groups and passionate individuals towards making our rivers healthier - whether by contributing to the river basin planning process, engaging in citizen science, or providing expertise in data, evidence or communications. 

The role for these groups and individuals is more important than ever given the current and future challenges - such as legislative uncertainty, climate change, population growth and urban creep, emerging chemicals, underinvestment in infrastructure, pollution and over-abstraction. Through WaterLIFE, the importance of working with and building expertise within community groups was demonstrated and proven.

Enhancing the ability of community groups to get involved with on the ground projects either through catchment partnerships or by other means, as well as influencing decision-making, will mean that improvement in our water environment is not only accelerated but sustained. It can lead to expanded catchment partnerships that are able to generate more buy in and support, securing more funding and greater expertise and more impact.

Through the project, we worked with catchments to strengthen partnerships and help them become more effective. Below you can find out more about the tools and resources we used:


Throughout WaterLIFE, we learnt what conditions are needed to achieve our vision of healthy rivers for people and nature. The WaterLIFE Declaration set out three principles to deliver these conditions.  By the end of the project, it was signed by over 100 businesses, government agencies, national NGOs, rivers trusts and catchment partnerships. 


The Catchment-Based Approach website is designed to showcase the work of catchment partnerships aross England and Wales and to encourage the sharing and adoption of best practice in stakeholder-led catchment managment planning, delivery and evaluation.
Email: info@catchmentbasedapproach.org


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