Research themes

Transition to sustainable water governance (Work Package 1)

This work package defines, assesses and advances the transition towards more sustainable water governance in Europe, at multiple levels and across multiple sectors. Specifically, we will

  1. build a conceptual framework for sustainability transition in water governance
  2. develop an assessment tool to analyse innovative water governance approaches and instruments,
  3. systematically compare 25-30 cases of innovative instruments/approaches to identify which configurations of conditions are necessary and sufficient for the sustainable water governance to occur
  4. co-create contextualized and validated transition pathways to reach the WFD, EGD and SDG aims.


  • Antti Belinskij, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland,
  • Gül Özerol, University of Twente, Netherlands,

Legal and regulatory approaches (Work Package 2)

This work package identifies legal and regulatory challenges and levers in the policy framework for reaching the objectives of the WFD, the EGD and the SDGs for sustainable water use at EU and national levels. The work package will review and assess innovative legal and regulatory instruments and develop policy recommendations for sustainable water use at EU and national level with a focus on orders of use priority, water allocation regimes, regulation of water-intensive value chains and e-flows.


  • Eleftheria Kampa, Ecologic Institute, Germany,

Participatory and collaborative approaches (Work Package 3)

This work package identifies the challenges and opportunities for reaching the objectives of the WFD, the EGD and the SDG6 regarding the participation of individual citizens and organized stakeholders in water governance. It will analyse participatory and collaborative innovations for

  1. multi-stakeholder collaboration across levels and sectors
  2. empowering and involving citizens
  3. incentivizing private companies to develop recommendations and action perspectives for policymakers to effectively implement participatory and collaborative approaches that contribute to sustainable and equitable water use at the EU and national levels.


  • Gül Özerol, University of Twente, Netherlands,

Economic and financial instruments (Work Package 4)

This work package identifies and analyses innovative economic and financial instruments for reaching the objectives of the WFD, the EGD, the SDG6 and evaluates means to enhance their adoption. It will identify the instruments from economic, political and societal perspective, and develop an analytical framework for the assessment of their economic performance. Through case studies and living labs, we will provide an in-depth analysis on governance approaches and concepts (investments, risk management, water pricing, cost-benefits) that engage with economic and financial instruments, assess the role of these instruments in governance in the water sector, and develop policy recommendations for implementing economic and financial instruments in EU water policies and governance schemes.


  • Julio Berbel, University of Cordoda, Spain,

Digital solutions for information sharing (Work Package 5)

This work package reviews, analyses and assesses the current digital solutions enabling the use of in-situ, space-based and, in particular, citizen environmental observations to support sustainable water governance. The digital solutions are studied at European, national and basin levels. The results will be used to bridge the data gaps using Citizen Science and innovative technologies to produce two innovative tools for bringing together stakeholders from multidisciplinary background (e.g., public and private water using sectors, policy regulators, scientists, citizens). The tools will be applied and assessed within Living Labs to demonstrate the potential for data and digital solutions to underpin new governance models.


  • Virginie Keller, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, United Kingdom,

Living labs of water governance innovations (Work Package 6)

At the heart of GOVAQUA are the six living labs of water governance innovations. In the living labs the good practices are systematically reviewed and analysed, and further co-developed and validated with key stakeholders.

Link to more information about the GOVAQUA living labs.


  • Damián Sánchez García, Water Technology Center, Spain,
  • Suvi Sojamo, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland,
Published 2023-03-17 at 17:34, updated 2023-03-17 at 18:44