The focus of the Interreg Water Co-Governance for Sustainable Ecosystems project (WaterCoG) is to understand how the implementation of EU directives can be achieved at a local level in the North Sea Region.

WaterCog aims to demonstrate that the implementation and integration of various water management frameworks can be achieved while also providing social, economic and environmental benefits that are currently not being realized.


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The natural environment is dependent on water to provide society with many essential benefits or “ecosystem services” (e.g. drinking water, biodiversity, food production, recreation, carbon sequestration). A number of EU directives aim to protect and improve the delivery of these services. However, successful implementation and integration of the different directives at a local level is a major shared challenge in the NSR. Understanding how this can be achieved is fundamental to delivering long-term sustainable ecosystem-based management strategies for the NSR and the focus for the WaterCoG project.

The project will demonstrate through the adoption of new participatory, ecosystem service based approaches that implementation and integration of different water management frameworks can be achieved at the same time as providing additional social, economic and environmental benefits not currently being realised.

A strong transnational component will identify and incorporate common, transferable elements of different approaches into an up-scaling toolbox that will extend the impact of the project and build capacity for delivering improved sustainable management strategies for NSR ecosystems.

The projects’ output aims for a change in working practice that will improve the integration between top-down implementation of European and national directives and bottom-up, participatory developed solutions for improving the quality and sustainable management strategies of NSR ecosystems.