Working with communities, business and government for healthy rivers.

Many of the threats facing Europe’s rivers cannot be solved by one organisation alone. Communities, business and government need to work together to tackle them effectively.

Our rivers provide a vital service for people, economies and nature. However, throughout Europe, they are under threat from many pressures including over-abstraction, pollution and human modification. For our freshwater environments to be healthy, they need to be managed in a coordinated way that makes sense for the environment. Otherwise, they will not be able to meet our economic, social and ecological needs.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is one of the most important pieces of EU environmental legislation ever passed. It requires member states to look at the health of the whole ecosystem and requires governments to work with communities and companies to develop River Basin Management Plans. The fundamental objective of the Directive is to protect, enhance and restore all of Europe’s waters, with the aim of achieving Good Status. If implemented correctly, then our rivers, lakes and beaches will be managed sustainably and safeguarded for future generations.

However, across Europe, implementation of the Directive has not met EU requirements. Around 50% of EU rivers (and 56% of UK rivers) do not meet Good Status. For successful implementation, we must have the right enabling conditions to deliver the step change that’s needed, as well as the means and opportunities to talk to each other, develop successful and innovative approaches and share successes and best practice.

And that is where WaterLIFE comes in. WaterLIFE is an EC LIFE+ funded project led by WWF-UK in partnership with The Rivers Trust and Westcountry Rivers Trust to:


  • Develop collaborative ways of working to feed into policy-making in the UK and other EU countries to support accelerated delivery of the WFD.

  • Pioneer innovative water stewardship models showing businesses and civil society working together with land practitioners to tackle pollution and to support achievement of Good Status in a number of catchments.

  • Support local communities to engage with River Basin Management Plan development and deliver on-the-ground improvements.

  • Bring together people from across Europe to share understanding and showcase solutions to support implementation of the Water Framework Directive.

For more information, please download a copy of the WaterLIFE project summary and visit the project website.

The project is funded by EC Life+ and runs from July 2014 to July 2017. Project number: LIFE13 ENV/UK/000497.

WaterLIFE partnership strip

Related links

Related documents

WaterLIFE project summary

WaterLIFE agricultural compliance report