Living Labs

This work package houses the six GOVAQUA living labs, where a representative and complementary set of innovative water governance approaches and instruments will be further developed, piloted, co-assessed and evaluated, and the preliminary pathways developed in WP1 are validated with the key stakeholders. There are six living labs in river basins, sub-basins or catchments in France, Finland, Spain, the UK, and Romania, and transnationally between Finland and Sweden.

© Marianna Korpi

Living lab 1: OUGC Water markets, Crau-aquifer, France

This living lab develops further feasible economic instruments for sharing water in times of drought, the associated water governance structure, and the supporting technical tools to help local stakeholders to reach sustainable water use and good ecological status.

Two economic instruments will be studied:

  1. temporary water market to be implemented during droughts among irrigation water users
  2. payment for ecosystem services allowed to hay producers to maintain their practices.

An economic analysis of the territory will be carried out, and economic models for water users will be built to simulate the implementation of economic tools. A survey of drinking water price will be conducted to estimate whether water price level incites users to save water, which will be complemented with an estimation of the level of acceptance of an increase in water price to pay for ecosystem services.


  • Marielle Montginoul, French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment, France,

Living lab 2: Water stewardship and innovative financing mechanisms, Archipelago Sea Basin, Finland

This living lab will apply the general scheme of innovative financing methods and result-based incentives for water stewardship measures developed in work package 4.

The specific objectives will be

  1. identify and assess the water impact hotspots of production value chains
  2. define and identify water measures to address these impacts
  3. set indicators to capture the environmental and economic impacts of measures.

The cost-effectiveness of measures will be evaluated based on existing regional assessments and tools, and indicators developed in work package 4. A portfolio of cost-effective measures with feasible financing methods and result-based incentives will be developed in cooperation with local stakeholders, companies and citizens.


  • Liisa Saikkonen, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland,

Living lab 3: Reconciling competing needs, Axarquía region, Spain

This living lab implements and validates the digital tool (IWAM) developed in work package 5, which will serve as a key element to establish a new governance model based on three main pillars:

  1. integrated water management
  2. water users’ participation
  3. hydroeconomic models, including innovative economic instruments (to be developed by UCO in this WP).

IWAM will integrate alternative water resources and a MOHICAN water accounting hydroeconomic model which will include dynamic responses from farmers to avoid future rebound effects. Methodology includes stakeholders’ knowledge and power mapping and implementation of water accounting framework. Stakeholders will participate in the design and validation of the IWAM tool, which will also include valuation of water ecosystems (baseline vs. ‘consensus sustainable scenario’) and the design of alternative economic instruments to finance transition. Living lab evaluation will include cost-effectiveness and acceptance of alternative instruments analyses.


  • Damián Sánchez García, Water Technology Center, Spain, and Julio Berbel, University of Cordoba, Spain,

Living lab 4: Digital Basin, River Thames, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

This living lab – working in combination with WP5 – increases transparency and understanding of sewage treatment and sewerage network overflows to build trust between the water company and local communities. The aim is to enhance knowledge and collaboration between the organisations and citizens working to improve the river health of the Oxfordshire Thames.

We will pursue a facilitated co-governance approach with the water company, regulator, local authorities and NGOs, and produce an end-user focussed dashboard which will combine real-time rainfall data and Thames Water overflow Event Duration Monitoring spill data with citizen science spot samples.

The insight generated will be used to improve understanding of infrastructure performance including the relative impact of different sewerage assets and highways runoff. The data will also help the governing organisations co-design and promote the measures required to reduce pollution, with the long-term goal to meet bathing water standards on the Thames at Oxford and Wallingford.


  • John Brewington, The Rivers Trust, United Kingdom,

Living lab 5: Nordic hydropower, Finland and Sweden

This living lab shares knowledge and develops governance instruments and approaches to achieve the objectives of the WFD and the EGD in water bodies affected by existing hydropower operations.

Finnish and Swedish governance approaches are both novel and innovative, but from different angle. Finland’s governance model is largely based on financial support of voluntary measures, while Sweden has revised its legislation to modernise all existing hydropower permits.

The proposed workflow begins by the assessment of the governance approaches of both countries based on legal and regulatory analysis, and interviews of relevant public authorities. A series of workshops will be organised for the authorities of both countries to share knowledge and learn from each other’s experiences. During the workshops, both governance models as well as their application in different size categories of hydropower plants will be discussed with the aim of further developing the models.


  • Saija Koljonen, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland,

Living lab 6: Restoring nature – creating change for citizens, Danube Delta, Dunavat, Romania

This living lab works towards development and consolidation of water governance in a region currently struggling with extreme weather events. Application of nature-based solutions is expected to contribute to development of contextualised adaptation to climate change, increased water availability and restoring of ecosystem services. To this end, the living lab aims to develop a governance model integrating water management approaches and sustainable stakeholder involvement.

A combination of methods will be used, starting with the baseline assessment of the current water governance in the area, including the economic consequences of the water pricing, using the available data. Stakeholder analysis and citizen participation methodologies will support the co-creation and co-design of a joint vision for a local water governance model. The development of this model is shaped to address the specific local and regional needs in order to ensure long-term sustainability and the relationship between ecological and economic aspects.


  • Camelia Ionescu, WWF Romania,
Published 2023-03-17 at 18:41, updated 2023-06-20 at 16:50