Danube Watch 2/2021 - Interreg Central Europe: T E A C H E R-CE


Interreg Central Europe: T E A C H E R-CE The Results and Fate of a Two-Year Journey

Project T E A C H E R-CE responds to an ever-increasing number of extreme weather events in Central Europe with enhanced risk management coordination.

JoinToin E fforts to increase water management A daptation to climate C H anges in central E u  RRope – was created with partners coming from four different central Europe (CE)-projects (RAINMAN, FRAMWAT, PROLINE-CE, SUSTREE), with the idea of preventing the ever more present detrimental water-related ecological consequences of a changing climate. Its main objectives arose out of the need to integrate and harmonize the results of already existing funded projects as part of the Horizon2020, LIFE and INTERREG programs.

The focus of T E A C H E R-CE, the two-year long project (2020 – 2022) funded by Interreg Central Europe, was to improve the integrated water management capacities of the public sector and related entities for risk prevention, water protection, and Circular City (CC) adaptation in Central Europe (CE), achieved through both action on a local level and transnational cooperation. To achieve this, the TEACHER-CE toolbox was created focusing on an integrated approach to climate-proofing management of water-related issues to prevent detrimental climate change-induced outcomes such on vital water-concerns, such as floods, droughts, and heavy rain. This project promotes the protection of water resources and their sustainable use by improving the capacities of local and regional stakeholders in the water management sector to adapt to climate change, aiming to make the regions in Central Europe more ecologically resilient.

Project T E A C H E R-CE has three central project-specific objectives. Firstly, to develop and validate a framework of tools for climate change adaptation and amelioration of related risks. Secondly, capacity development for stakeholders to adapt to a changing climate using this emerging toolbox and thirdly, to boost integrated participatory water management by interacting with target groups. The target audience for this project was therefore municipalities and other regional and national authorities with the mandate to change and adapt to emerging water-related consequences of climate change. The direct local and regional implementation of the toolbox will help regions to adapt their processes to changing climate conditions.

Step-by-step project development

12 project partners from 8 countries and different fields of action, including academic institutions, government authorities, consultants, enterprises, and NGOs joined forces and a broad range of stakeholders were actively involved during the development of this project.

  • University of Ljubljana (UL)
  • Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG)
  • Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW)
  • Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change Foundation (CMCC)
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU)
  • Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape, Austria (BFW)
  • Global Water Partnership Central and Eastern Europe (GWP CEE)
  • Middle Tisza District Water Directorate (MTDWD)
  • Po river district Authority (AdbPo)
  • Institute of Meteorology and Water Management National Research Institute (IMGW-PIB)
  • Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CZU)

Given its rich previous experiences in stakeholder involvement, providing a neutral platform for dialogue and cooperation, organizing national/regional workshops and training for stakeholders from all spheres, GWP CEE provided assistance and coordination during every phase of the project. This included development of the tool itself, testing of the tool, organization of workshops and training for the stakeholders, gathering their input through questionnaires, and more.

The project’s progress can be assessed through the implementation of four different work packages as follows:

Work package 1: Exploitation – Concept of CE tools integration

During the project's first phase, a concept for tool integration into the T E A C H E R-CE toolbox was developed, based on three pillars as depicted in figure 1.

A unified overview of project tools and their interlinkages was created by evaluating 23 projects in total, with a special focus on the four projects RAINMAN, PROLINE-CE, FRAMWAT, and SUSTREE. Synergies between these approaches were then found, and so the stage for the T E A C H E R-CE toolbox was set. To add value to the understanding of stakeholder needs, a compilation of knowledge from existing studies and projects addressing the effects of climate change on water management was created. The core outcome of WPT1's three pillars is a fresh new paradigm for integrating exploited tools that triggers cooperation between diverse tools and satisfies the needs of users in the context of climate change.


Work package 2: Integration – CC-ARP- CE Toolbox for climate change
adaptation and risk prevention in CE

T E A C H E R-CE toolbox CC-ARP-CE is an important feature, acting as a central platform for the verification of the project's various objectives and deliverables in an actual and operational multi-institutional setting. The toolbox was created in the form of an online platform including a web map service that provides spatial orientation on all identified water management issues, information on climate change scenarios with key indicators, navigation through EU (European Union) and national data portals, links to tools developed in previous EU projects, and an integrated comprehensive catalogue of measures. Its design has been built for basic use, but also includes advanced features for expert use, and is purpose-built to communicate ideas/issues/problems within a given river basin (Figure 2) and share diverse perspectives on potential solutions with other users.

It can be found at https://teacher.apps.vokas.si/home


Work package 3: Implementation and feedback – Toolbox verification

The integrated CC-ARP-CE Toolbox was evaluated through national stakeholder training workshops, as well as applicability testing. It was evaluated and validated in nine pilot actions across eight countries including Slovenia, Germany, Poland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Stakeholder workshops were carried out in each country, where user suggestions and proposals for enhancements were collected. For the applicability testing of the toolbox, a special Focus Group was established consisting of Associated Partners and further key end-users of all partner countries. Overall, the feedback about the Toolbox was positive. However, further improvement is still needed in certain areas taking into account stakeholder feedback. The definitive version of the Toolbox – together with strategies for successful adaptation – is due at time of writing to be presented at a Final Conference of the project at the beginning of February 2022.

Work package 4: Joint strategy – Defining potential commitments
in the improvement of planning process considering climate change

An integrated and collaborative joint strategy for improving existing water management practices is being developed by the partners, promoting the use of the CC-ARP-CE Toolbox. The gaps in existing strategies, policy documents and directives implementation at the operational level were identified. A group of representatives from all project partners examined over 100 policy documents containing water management and climate change adaptation strategies. The proposed vision for strategy improvement includes four general recommendations related to the integration of assumptions from national/regional documents into the planning process, the integration of CC effects into the planning process, and the maximization of cross-sectoral benefits and prioritization of the implementation of nature-based solutions. Additionally, for operational level water management planning, detailed recommendations in the form of a step-by-step guideline were also prepared, with a focus on the CC-ARP-CE tool and cross-fertilized projects, as well as the assumptions of the European Climate Adaptation Platform "Climate-ADAPT."

onProject T E A C H E R-CE was an ambitious and exceptional combination of multiple preceding projects. The results, applied in the real world, have huge potential to help us better manage climate change and to prepare faster for any associated assessed risks. Due to a successful finalization of the project and its preserving value, the project partners have decided to continue further and submit a new project proposal very soon.

Article written by the entire GWP-CEE Secretariat Collective – visit www.gwp.org/en/GWP-CEE