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The BeWater project promotes dialogue and collaboration between science and society for sustainable water management and adaptation to the impacts of global change in the Mediterranean.

BeWater uses an iterative process of mutual learning, participatory techniques and a bottom-up approach to ensure that stakeholdersplay an active role in determining appropriate strategies for management of river basins.

By actively engaging with local communities, BeWater involves society in discussions on current water uses and their related problems, raising public awareness of the importance of sustainable water management, with particular focus on the expected climate change impacts at River Basin scale.

In four Case Study River Basins across the Mediterranean, newly developed methodologies integrating physical, ecological, social and management processes are used to develop Water Management Options. These Management Options will be discussed with local communities who will participate in drawing up locally-relevant Adaptation Plans, which may be scaled up to develop guidelines of national and international relevance.

schema partners




Future climate change projections for the Euro-Mediterranean region estimate an increase in water scarcity and droughts, causing substantial socioeconomic losses and environmental impacts. In this context, sustainable water management strategies, leading to increased resilience of the social-ecological system of a river basin, are needed urgently. In order to maximise their effectiveness, local communities must engage with such strategies and play an active role in the development.

BeWater will facilitate interaction to develop such strategies by:

  1. Launching a process of societal transition towards a more sustainable, resilient and adaptive river basin management.
  2. Developing a participatory, stakeholder-driven method.
  3. Promoting the transfer of BeWater results into policy.
  4. Promoting mutual and multi-directional learning among the project partners, entities and actors within and between the river basins and with the broader society.
  5. Raising social awareness and promoting a bottom-up approach within the scientific community for planning and implementation processes.
  6. Enhancing social participation and building societal resilience.
  7. Exploring and assessing opportunities for Research & Innovation (R&I) collaboration between organisations, universities, SMEs and civil society actors to boost innovation in the water sector.



BeWater proposes to demonstrate that policies may be developed through a continuous and iterative process of interaction between civil society, scientific and public administrations, including policy makers and implementers, institutional administration and local governments. In this way, adaptation strategies will reflect the needs of society and facilitate greater accountability, transparency and active participation of citizens in the process, which will also enhance the quality and legitimacy of the resulting policies.

To achieve this, the project is composed of eight work packages (WPs).


WP title:

Coordination and project management

WP leader: Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF)
Objectives: Strong coordination and management is needed to ensure BeWater’s ambitious and complex project goals are reached, and that the work-plan is realised according to the available budget.
  • Organise meetings, coordinate deliverables, annual reports and outreach products
  • Manage relations and communications between partners
  • Manage relationship with the European Commission
  • Implement a quality assurance and risk management plan


WP title:

Dialogue and participation

WP leader: Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF)
Objectives: In order to build the project framework, activities in this WP focus on enhancing the dialogue, coordination and network of the consortium.
  • Develop an integrated methodology to involve society in water management adaptation, building a common approach among the consortium, the Advisory Board (AB) and key stakeholders
  • Guarantee mutual and multi-directional learning process among partners, building capacities, training and knowledge sharing
  • Ensure communication and good knowledge-sharing among partners and with the AB through an efficient dialogue and network
  • Learn from the experience acquired by other ongoing  projects, Mobilisation and Mutual Learning actions (MMLs), networks and initiatives


WP title:

Formulation of options for water management

WP leader: Prospex (PROSPEX)
Objectives: An iterative process will be run in each of the Case Study River Basins (CSRBs), in which work prepared by the science partners will be evaluated, enriched and validated through the participation of civil society.
  • Launch a sensitisation campaign to raise social awareness and to encourage capacity building, empowerment and social formation in water management challenges and adaptation
  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information between society and science through two participatory processes, enhancing social participation water management
  • Review the state of the art on water impacts and vulnerabilities  and water adaptation in the selected CSRBs and to enrol civil society  in the identification of challenges, problems, needs and constraints at local level.
  • Formulate options  for future water management inter-comparable among CSRBs, including an environmental and socio-economical evaluation


WP title:

River basin Adaptation Plans

WP leader: Ecologic Institute (ECOLOGIC)
Objectives: Adaptation Plans for each of the Case Study River Basins (CSRBs) will be developed in close cooperation with Case Study Partners (CSP) and local stakeholders.
  • Design adaptation plans for the implementation of adaptation strategies in the CSRBs based on the results of the public participation process
  • Compile adaptation measures and activities developed in WP3 with a prioritisation, cost-benefit analysis and evaluation in each CSRB as part of the adaptation plans. The drafts will be validated by the key stakeholders in a participatory seminar
  • Scale up the adaptation plan design by providing a synthesis of the CSRB adaptation plans and a handbook for designing participatory adaptation plans
  • Communicate recommendations on adaptation plans to political makers at local and international scale


WP title:


WP leader: European Forest Institute (EFI)
Objectives: The experiences and results of BeWater have significant practical relevance for stakeholders in science and policy and for society as a whole. Communication of the work done through the project will be synthesised and tailored for multiple audiences.
  • Make  project information and results available to society,  the media,  policy makers, economic actors and NGOs
  • Synthesise new knowledge gained in the project and tailor dissemination activities towards different needs and scales: science, policy, civil society, as well as case studies and regions
  • Provide a portal facilitating knowledge exchange, information services and social learning


WP title:

Policy Watch

WP leader: Corporation Blue BV (CBLUE)
Objectives: To inform the development of appropriate policies, EU strategic priorities and other related initiatives will be monitored throughout the course of the project as well as policy developments at local, national, European, Mediterranean and African Union levels.
  • Analyse the EU strategic priorities for river basin management in the face of global and climate change as they are presented in EU policy tools
  • Provide a comparative analysis of local water policies and other sector policies which address global and climate change at the river basin scale
  • Identify both challenges and ‘windows of opportunity’ in the policy and strategy implementation process, to ensure the uptake of project results into political and social planning at different levels
  • Apply the above process to Tunisia in the African Union (AU) including the African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW)


WP title:


WP leader: Europe for Business (EFB)
Objectives: To ensure the sustainability and continued impact of BeWater, WP7 will assess and make recommendations on the involvement of national funding agencies in target countries and integration with other European initiatives.
  • Ensure the sustainability and enhance the impact of the BeWater project
  • Ensure the means needed for future involvement of European initiatives and engage national  and regional  funding agencies or other bodies in charge of water management and climate change research policy design, support and implementation in the target  countries
  • Define a roadmap on water challenges interface of science with policy and society


WP title:


WP leader: Joint Research Centre – European Commission (JRC)
Objectives: WP8 evaluates the methodology and implementation progress of the project and its potential impacts on society. It includes an in-depth evaluation of the methodology by an internal observer.
  • Evaluate the methodology and implementation progress of the project and its impacts on citizens and civil society  in relation to objectives and expected impacts
  • Perform  a reflexive analysis of  the implementation process through  an internal observer
  • Facilitate cooperation between work packages.
  • Ensure that all partners have a global understating of the project methodology and on-going  activities
  • Perform a critical review of the dialogues and links between science and society
  • Offer recommendations concerning the need for further participatory processes

BeWater Approach



BeWater proposes a new participatory process for the planning and implementation of public policies related to water management, which will make “ad hoc adaptation plans” more feasible.
The BeWater general framework is developed at local level through the implementation of case studies in selected river basins, applying a bottom-up approach.

Science and Society: Local > Project > European

The project runs an iterative process in each of the Case Study River Basins (CSRBs), in which the work prepared by science-related partners will be evaluated, enriched and validated through the participation of society through repeated exchanges. Subsequently, the outcome of society’s participation will be integrated into the work prepared by the science-based partners.
The iteration process allows that the exchange of information, knowledge and experience between the scientific community and society results in learning processes at different levels: Local, Project and European.


Expected outcomes


The expected outcomes of BeWater can be seen at three geographical levels:

Local level

Local level

  • The identification of the key problems and needs at local level through an open and transparent participatory process.
  • The basis for a long-lasting partnership between civil society, scientists, and public administrations (including institutional administration, local government and policy makers and implementers) through workshops and networks.
  • A set of realistic water management options for each river basin system that takes into account the effects of global change
  • An adaptation plan for each river basin system developed through a participative process. The plan, addressed to the river basin authorities, will outline actions that improve resilience and adaptation to global change scenarios.  
  • A significant and tangible increase of the river basin systems resilience, measured through indicators.
  • Recommendations for the uptake of the adaptation plan into existing legislation, its implementation and via contributions to future policy actions.
  • Increase of civil society sense of empowerment, having an active role in policy planning at the level they represent.


National level

National level

  • Presentation of the adaptation plan at national policy level in Spain, Slovenia, Cyprus and Tunisia.
  • Active engagement in policy advising and communication at a national level by identifying windows of opportunity with relevant policy makers, beginning with consultations early in the process.
  • Support the implementation of the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Waters and the Water Joint Programming Initiative at national level by identifying options at this level.


European level

European level

  • Development of a framework for sustainable and effective cooperation between science and society for resilient and adaptive management of water resources at the river basin level.
  • BeWater’s results will be outscaled and transferred by synthesing experiences and knowledge gained through the project and making this available for adaption and application in other Mediterranean river basins.



Adaptation plans

An adaptation plan for each river basin system, developed through a participative process, will outline actions that improve resilience and adaptation to global change scenarios.

Bottom-up approach

Dialogue with local stakeholders will be at the centre of the project, informing and validating the scientific research. Information and strategies developed will be focussed at river basin scale, with the aim of reaching outcomes that are applicable or adaptable nationally and internationally.

Civil society

Non-governmental and not-for-profit organisations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations.

Climate change

Climate change is viewed by many as one of the main drivers of Global Change; its impacts will vary regionally and will depend on local environmental and social contexts.

Global change

Global change refers to planetary-scale changes in the Earth system.

Iterative process

Involves continuous, multi-directional interaction between all stakeholders and participants in the project. It is a continuous exchange of information, knowledge and experience between the scientific community (contributing data compiled from the river basins) and society (contributing local knowledge, perceptions, needs and concerns) enabling evaluation, enrichment and validation of the project findings.

Mobilisation and mutual learning actions (MMLs)

MMLs are designed to bring together actors from research and the wider community (e.g. civil society organisations, ministries, policymakers, science festivals and the media). They will collaborate on action plans that will connect research activities for a chosen Societal Challenge.
More information

Multi-directional learning

local-national-internationalscience-society-policyParticipatory processes and the involvement of stakeholders, scientists and wider society will contribute to multi-directional knowledge transfer.

River basin

The area of land from which all surface run-off flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta. (Water Framework Directive - current European water legislation)

Participatory techniques

Participatory techniques enable shared ownership of decision-making and close collaboration between the different agencies, sector organisations and different groups of stakeholders within a region. Various methodologies are used in order to facilitate participation on vertical and horizontal scales.


Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) is a term recognised throughout the world.  What makes up an SME, however, varies from country to country. In EU law, the main factors determining whether a company is an SME are the number of employees and either turnover or balance sheet total.  In Europe, there are three broad parameters which define SMEs:

  • micro-entities are companies with up to 10 employees
  • Small companies employ up to 50 workers
  • Medium-sized enterprises have up to 250 employees

However, the company’s turnover or balance sheet total must also be taken into account in order to confirm the definition. More information

Societal resilience

Social resilience may be defined by three important dimensions of the capacities of social actors:

  • coping capacities to cope with and to overcome all kinds of immediate adversities:
  • adaptive capacities to learn from past experiences and adjust themselves to pressing new challenges in the future;
  • transformative capacities to craft institutions that foster individual welfare and sustainable societal robustness in the event of present and future crises.

Social learning, participative decision-making, and processes of collective transformation are recognised as a central aspect of social resilience which may be considered is not only a dynamic and relational concept, but also a deeply political one.

Societal transition

BeWater aims to launch an innovative process of societal transition towards a more sustainable, resilient and adaptive river basin management. In the project context, transition means a social change in the management of river basins towards the improvement of the basin resilience and adapting to more adverse environmental conditions, which may result from climate change. The key to this project objective lies in its ability to trigger the transition process and to involve all relevant members of society. This project's multidisciplinary approach, which balances environmental, political and socio-economic priorities, will guide water management formulation options that will also serve as a basis for adaptation plan design.


Stakeholders in BeWater are groups or individuals that are expected to be affected by the project’s activities and whose actions can have an impact on the realisation of project objectives.  In BeWater they are local communities in the 4 CSRBs, river basin managers, water sector actors, decision makers, local, sectoral and regional agencies and authorities, and wider civil society. A Stakeholder Group is established in each CSRB (hyperlink to BeWater Society page) who are actively involved in all steps of the project, from their input in developing the water management options to the validation of the Adaptation Plans and dissemination of the project findings.

Water management options

Challenges, needs and constraints regarding options for managing water in the case study river basins will be explored. In order to identify appropriate water management options, the project will:

  • Identify current water management problems in the study area
  • Present climate change scenarios projected for the area
  • Outline future water use options according to different expected socioeconomic trends
  • Consider social needs, concerns, perceptions and beliefs