River Cases
River Commons
  • Meuse River, The Netherlands

    The Border-Meuse is a section of the Meuse river and marks the border between Belgium and The Netherlands. The water level of the Border-Meuse is managed through dams and fluctuates heavily. Initiated through ‘plan ooievaar’ in 1985, the region has been subject of substantial change with most recently the Border-Meuse project. The Border-Meuse project aims to integrate objectives of flood protection, gravel extraction and nature rehabilitation through the lens of nature-based solutions and rewilding principles, under the umbrella of the Dutch Room for the River programme. During the summer of 2021, extensive rainfall in the Meuse basin caused high water levels in the river and riparian zones.

  • Sumapaz River, Colombia
  • Cauca River, Colombia

    The Cauca river is born in the Macizo plateau in the department of Cauca, which is known as the hydrographic star. As a natural blue line it connects farmer, indigenous and Afro-Colombian territories along an approximate 1000 kilometers, until it connects with the delta region known as the Mojana, near the Caribbean Coast.

    The river is threatened not only by large scale gold mining , but also by agroindustrial projects that include sugarcane, pine, eucalyptus, potatoes, strawberries and coca. Two hydroelectric dams have interrupted local socio-ecosystems and the internal armed conflict has turned the river into a mass grave, in which legal and illegal armed actors have dumped hundreds of bodies.

    Despite the multiple attacks and impacts on the Cauca river, it is also a symbol of resistance and dignity. Interethnic and intercultural alliances between communities to defend both the river and their territories have resulted in creative and innovative strategies to materialize collective proposals on autonomy, protection and living the good life and a life in dignity (buen vivir and vida digna)

  • uMngeni River, South Africa

    The uMngeni River provides the ethnically diverse urban area of Durban with water. The water suffers from severe pollution, with much of the litter in the river coming from informal settlements without waste collection. Diverse multi-stakeholder alliances have formed to defend the river, establishing for instance the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA).

  • uMngeni/Limpopo River Basin, Southern Africa

    The study on the uMngeni/Limpopo River Basin forms a bridge between PhDs 5 and 8 by focusing on the scaling of citizen participation in Community-Based Water Quality Monitoring (CBWQM) practices. It examines the role of partnering as expressed by sharing of intellectual property, knowledge co-creation, and co-development of tools to support learning within CBWQM across multi-actors in a networked learning environment.

  • Limpopo/Olifants River Basin, Southern Africa

    The transnational Limpopo/Olifants river basin suffers from droughts and flooding. Several bigger and smaller dams have been constructed and overgrazing has led to severe siltation of the middle river. The river basin has a complex multi-stakeholder governance praxis, and promising commoning initiatives.

  • Zambezi River, Zambia
  • Barotse Floodplains, Zambia

    In the Barotse floodplains many people’s livelihoods depend on fishery. Recent industrialization in the headwaters and unsustainable commercial fishing practices have depleted fish stocks. Local partners of WWF have set up community activities for sustainable fishery and a protected area network.

  • Warna River, India

    The basin’s upper part of the Warna River is a protected area and also home to the Daghe Dahangar indigenous community. Some of them have been displaced because of the large Warna dam and the protected area. The dam serves the lower part of the basin with intensive agriculture, threatening agro-ecological fishing-based livelihoods. KBPLSPS is an active social movement supported by SOPPECOM striving for inclusive policies.

  • Magdalena River, Colombia

    The Middle-Magdalena River is home to numerous fisher-communities, but pollution, land-grabbing and loss of river-ecosystem connectivity caused by large dams threaten local livelihoods. Local fisher communities and Alma Foundation co-formulate River Safeguard Plans including adapted fishing techniques, river-ecology restoration, environmental educational, and policy-action projects.

  • Bogota River, Colombia

    Bogota River’s headwaters and wetlands are cogoverned by local communities through an extensive network of commons-based drinking water systems and peasant reserve areas, but threatened by agricultural expansion, private appropriation and state-centralistic takeover. The multi-scale aqueducts movement, however, responds with public-communitarian river co-governance proposals and Rights of Rivers initiatives, to realize collective water management and “Territorial Peace Plans”.

  • De Berkel River, The Netherlands

    The De Berkel River has mobilized a recent grassroots stakeholder platform that engages with socionatural riverscape planning through restoration of meanders, removal of dikes and creative integration of river flows, life and livelihoods in the relatively deprived Zutphen region. It is a local initiative in interaction with the major ‘Room for the River’ and land use planning programs executed by the Dutch government in the rivers Rhine and IJssel.

  • Piatúa River, Ecuador

    Around the highly biodiverse Amazon basin of the Piatúa River, in 2019, a coalition of indigenous communities, environmental NGOs, scholars and the national ombudsman have halted hydropower dam-building. Developing multiple alternative riverine water uses, practices and local technologies, they sued the State and international companies to stop oil and mining pollution, and now seek to mobilize the Constitution’s Rights of Nature.

  • Serpis River, Spain

    The Serpis River faces several problems like discharge of untreated waste water, flood risks, invasive species, a dam inhibiting fish migration and water over-exploitation for irrigation. A civic initiative created a multi-stakeholder platform to raise awareness and discuss the river’s problems and possible solutions. Evoking new water culture notions, NGOs have contested the water transfer to agro-exporters, defending Serpis’ nature values.

  • Samaná River, Colombia

    The Samaná River is one of Colombia’s last free-flowing rivers; it has been the site of fierce contestations against mega hydropower dam building. In 2019, riverine communities and environmental organizations protested successfully based on notions of Rights of Nature.

  • Guadalhorce River, Spain

    In the headwaters of the Guadalhorce River three immense dams have been built for hydropower, irrigation and urban drinking water supply; further damming of tributaries is planned. Yet, local grassroots coalitions resist and fight for multi-functional ecological river flows and inventive riverine practices that enliven community livelihoods.

  • Quimsacocha river complex, Ecuador

    The Quimsacocha River complex comprises 30 interconnected lagoons providing drinking and irrigation water. Communities protest against gold-mining development that pollutes their pastoral and agro-productive territory and misrecognizes the cultural and spiritual value of Quimsacocha’s sacred waters. A local-national coalition develops innovative wetland caring and sharing technologies, and mobilizes Rights of Nature to defend this wetlands’ rivers.

  • Biesbosch estuary and Het Wantij River, The Netherlands

    The local environmental NGO Stichting Het Wantij has fought for over a decade to protect the river territory of Het Wantij (part of the Biesbosch nature park) against large infrastructure (bridges, roads), multinational chemical industries’ water pollution and felling of trees, promoting innovative techniques of ecological riverbank management. The NGO has successfully filed court cases to make the government comply with environmental legislation.

  • Ranchería River, Colombia

    Ranchería River and its tributaries in the arid North-East of Colombia, have been affected by mining-related water diversion projects, pollution and dam construction. After indigenous Afro-Colombian communities (Wayuu) and environmental NGOs protested based on Wayuu worshipping of the river, ancient and recent river-dialoguing and co-living techniques, the Constitutional Court has recently recognized the rivers’ rights and installed a commission of guardians.