GNF - Workshops: Sustainable Development in Lake Areas


Sustainable Development in Lake Areas: Empowering Local Initiatives and Civil Society


From 2010 to 2012, Forum Synergies and Global Nature Fund organised five common workshops related to participatory implementation strategies of environmental policies in lake areas, which took place in Estonia, Poland, Slovenia, Greece and France. The workshops were meant to empower civil society actors to contribute to participatory sustainable development, and should yield recommendations to local and EU governments about more participatory ways to implement environmental policies.

More information under:


Goals and Objectives

The workshops were organised in the framework of the project “Sustainable Development in Lake Areas”, which was supported by Fondation de France. The general objective of the project was to support initiatives in sustainable development by exchange on good practice of participatory implementation and local sustainable development. The exchange should lead to capacity building of private actors, NGOs and local governments in environmentally sensitive areas.


The thematic workshops would contribute to the development of local democracy and to a more participative management of environmental resources, in order to fill the gap between European citizens and their institutions, and also via feed-back to decision makers to contribute to environmental and rural policies that better meet peoples’ need for participation.


The project’s objectives were

  • to exchange experiences about different participatory implementation strategies of Nature 2000 and Water Framework Directive (WFD) in concerned rural areas
  • to give local actors and authorities better access to practical knowledge about sustainable Nature 2000 and WFD implementation strategies via exchange with successful projects
  • to develop political proposals to regional, state and EU governments to use the existing participatory options that are provided from EU-side in order to support sustainable development in rural areas.


The scientific partnership with University of Marburg / Germany assured that the project integrates political knowledge of integrated water body management.



Empowerment of Local Actors: Sustainable development depends on actors – actors that are willing to persistently strive for sustainable ways of life in their daily behaviour and take initiative to generate renewable energy, consume locally grown and organic food, use tourism services that save energy and look for ways of a sustainable life style. Since economic regional development is one crucial pillar of sustainability, governments depend on local initiatives of people and civil society organizations to turn the chances of regulative frameworks and accompanying funding policies into practical action. Therefore an exchange about best practice in motivation and integration of local actors is an important contribution to sustainable rural development and the empowerment of civil society. An exchange between old and new EU member state participants seems particularly useful in this respect since it combines long-term knowledge about EU regulation practices with newly emerging civil society movements.


Participatory Processes

The Aarhus convention, signed in 1998 by most European countries, invites authorities to enhance the public participation in decision-making related with environmental issues. The Natura 2000 network (based on the ‘Habitat’ and the ‘Birds’ directives) is requesting from national governments to protect species and habitats of common interest by preserving their current existence. It does not specify by which measures and thereby leaves room for participatory implementation. The European Water Framework Directive is requesting from national states to achieve a “good ecological state” for all surface water bodies until 2015. It expects explicitly the implementation of an active public participation. The three directives – and especially the Habitat Directive – are in many cases seen as very critical by farming organisations and local governments who fear economical constraints. On the other hand, at the local level the participatory implementation options frequently are unknown to the relevant actors because of lack of good examples.


Lake Areas

Lakes, river basins and coastal areas are good topics for exchange workshops about participatory implementation strategies because they fall usually under both Natura 2000 and water framework regulation, they give a common thematic focus, are of high public relevance and give room for integrated development approaches. Furthermore there tend to be serious conflicts of interest between different stakeholders, giving need for mediation and participatory conflict solution. More specifically, a common problem of European lakes is eutrophication from agricultural sources. EU regulation (Nitrogen directive) requests farmers since 2000 to restrict fertilization in order to prevent nutrient runoff to ground and surface waters. But there are implementation deficits, and big leftovers from former times pose a question of acceptable cleanup strategies. All this gives reason to look for more participatory implementation.


Partner organisations and supporters of the workshops were the European network Forum Synergies, the environmental foundation Global Nature Fund (GNF), the foundation Fondation France as well as the non-govermental organisation Geyser. Following you find all dates as well as the reports of each workshop.

 Milicz Ponds in Poland
 Fisher men at the Milicz Ponds in Poland
 Grainfield in Estlonia
 Lake Bled in Slovenia
 In the Triglav National Park in Slovenia

15–18 June 2009

First Workshop: "Sustainable Development in Lake Areas – Empowering Local Initiatives and Civil Society"

Lake Vörtsjärv, Estonia

 Participants of the Workshop in Estonia

21–24 October 2009

Second Workshop: “Sustainable Development in Lake Areas: Empowering Local Initiatives and Civil Society”, Milicz Ponds, Poland
 Sightseeing in situ in Poland

21–25 April 2010

Third Workshop Forum Synergies

Lake Bled, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

 On-site inspection in Slovenia

18–22 April 2012

Fifth Workshop Forum Synergies: "Current Issues of Biodiversity Protection and Participatory Development"

Val de Drugeon, Haut Doubs, France


The focus of this workshop was on "Current Issues of Biodiversity Protection and Participatory Development", and the programme was tailored to develop NGO alliances for promising follow-up activities. The workshop was held with contribution of the Ramsar Europe secretariat and was co-organized by very active local NGOs.