The EU Policy Lab organized a workshop in partnership with colleagues working in modelling of water and marine resources, as part of the JRC scientific support to the Danube strategy. It was held at the Representation of the European Union in Budapest, Hungary, on 27-28 October 2016.

The workshop addressed the challenges faced by the Danube Region from an integrated and cross-cutting perspective, taking into account the interdependencies between various policy priorities. Two sets of expertise of the Join Research Centre (JRC) were applied in this context: its capacity to model and assess water resources at continental and regional scale to support the EU water policy and its know-how in foresight, participatory workshops, behavioural insights and design to develop novel approaches for policy-making. This was an opportunity to apply a wide range of competences to identify the key water management issues and possible actions for the sustainable development of the Danube River Basin (DRB).

Amongst those in attendance were more than 30 experts in flood protection, hydrological modelling, renewable energy resources, environmental law, civil and chemical engineering, agriculture and forestry, economics, etc. from 11 countries in the Danube region and the JRC.

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Group discussions and mutual learning

The workshop was organised around several sessions that fostered group discussions and mutual learning. Four extreme future scenarios were used to frame the discussions and to make participants apply their different sets of knowledge and experience in a context that was geographically close to them in a somewhat distant future (2040).

Participants worked in four groups to identify the opportunities and challenges created by each scenario for water management in the DRB. The conversations were harvested on templates. The output was structured according to the opportunities and challenges in each sector relative to the economy, society or the environment.

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Another group session delved into the identification of what various stakeholders could do to seize the opportunities created by each scenario for building a more sustainable future for the DRB. To make the suggestions as concrete as possible, the participants were asked to identify also who should take the actions and how these actions should be implemented (e.g. what instruments can be used to make these actions happen).

The sessions delivered a large amount of constructive and concrete output on which it is possible to build scenario specific recommendations. These results will be analysed and the outcomes from all scenarios compared to identify whether some suggestions would be applicable to all the possible futures that were explored. This would be an indication that some actions should be taken regardless of any uncertainty we might have on the future.

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The workshop ended with a general discussion during which all participants had an opportunity to share any remark about workshop process and content. The general tone of the discussion reflected well the overall constructive attitude that prevailed throughout the workshop.

We thank all the participants for their time and valuable contributions. We encourage this community of practice to continue to engage in discussions and to build on the outputs of the workshop.

This post was co-authored with Laurent Bontoux

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