Living European Rivers | WWF
© © Wild Wonders of Europe /Milan Radisics / WWF

Living European Rivers

Rivers are the pumping hearts of our landscapes

They move the water that feeds our fields and satisfies our thirst, they nurture plains and coasts. Rivers and wetlands make life move and much more. They contribute to our quality of life and can ease our adaptation to climate change. Despite their huge value, in Europe we have been abusing our rivers for centuries, resulting in 60% of them being in bad health, causing huge declines in biodiversity and also in those benefits they provide to people.

Rivers are not pipes. Within the Living European Rivers Initiative, WWF is working to shift how we see and manage rivers to ultimately shift their status. We are working together with local communities, authorities, scientists, business and investors to create a movement across Europe that changes the rules of the game. For our rivers, and for you.

Freshwater populations have shrunk 83% since the 70´s
© Wild Wonders of Europe / Martin Falklind / WWF

Our Approach

© Michel Gunther / WWF

Free Flowing Rivers

More than 30,000 dams and a still unknown number of obstacles in rivers and wetlands. Still, Europe keeps some free flowing rivers and wetland gems for which protection WWF is working, joining forces to reduce threats from poor management and infrastructure development –for hydropower, navigation, agriculture or flood risk management-.

Free-flowing Rivers Initiative

© Wild Wonders of Europe / Ruben Smit / WWF

Less (Dams) is More

At WWF we are so convinced that we have enough dams in Europe, that we want to trigger a new era where obsolete and highly impacting dams are removed. We are a partner of Dam Removal Europe to show the feasibility and the ways to make a river flow freely again, and to make this movement unstoppable.

Dam Removal Europe

© Wild Wonders of Europe / Widstrand / WWF

Nature Knows Best

Rivers have capacity to swell and shrink depending on the weather. We want to benefit from what they have learned over thousands of years and replicate their resilience by restoring the rivers and wetlands that we have harmed, so they become allies in adapting to the challenges Climate Change is bringing.

© Andrija Vrdoljak / WWF

Keep Policy Strong

WWF is working to keep European water policy strong and properly implemented –not all governments are keen to change business as usual and are challenging the Water Framework Directive, a key legal tool-. Together with the Living Rivers Europe, a coalition of European NGOs, we launched the #ProtectWater campaign. It got the support of more than 375,000 people, becoming one of the largest responses to a public consultation in the history of the EU and a strong voice in favour of our rivers.

#ProtectWater Campaign

© Matevž Lenarčič

SHIFT INVESTMENT

Money can be a decisive leverage point. We work gathering economic data, building alliances and proposing Bankable Water Solutions to make nature-based interventions more attractive than traditional grey ones, to make EU funds and private investments shift from harmful infrastructure projects and measures towards sustainable green alternatives.

Bankable Water Solutions

#ProtectWater for future generations