RECONECT meets for its 7th General Assembly in Zurich
RECONECT, a 6-year EU project implementing Nature-based Solutions to reduce water-related climate risks, held its 7th General Assembly in Zurich from 23 to 25 May 2022.
The 7th RECONECT GA was the first meeting held in person following the COVID-19 easing of restrictions. The previous four GA’s had been held virtually. The 3-day meeting allowed to take stock of the project’s progress and achievements, as well as allowed for discussions on important enablers and barriers to implementing Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and upscale them in other river basin landscapes.
“It was really good to be able to meet in-person again as it allowed for engaging interactions as well as good brainstorming discussions on NbS implementation. Sometimes the best ideas or breakthrough insights come from spontaneous discussions or impromptu conversations during coffee breaks or Q&A time. Despite the COVID-19 restrictions of the past two years, the project team spirit was preserved, the initiative progressed well and impressive results were produced”
Zoran Vojinovic, RECONECT project coordinator.
The RECONECT initiative consists of 36 partners from 18 countries and draws upon an incredibly diverse network of ‘Demonstrators’, i.e. those who implement large-scale NBS projects, old and new, and ‘Collaborators’, i.e. those who conduct new NBS research, of which 6 EU and 13 international studies are taking place. All cover a wide range of conditions, geographic characteristics, and institutional and governance structures.
Project participants were given an overview of the European Commissions’ review, as well as the project’s current status, including key issues and challenges, adjustments and ways forward. The GA was held in Zurich and hosted by EAWAG, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Techology, a Demonstrator partner in the project working with authorities in charge of the river restoration work of the Thur river basin.
“Extreme events such as flooding will only increase in the coming decades due to climate change. The intensity and duration of these extreme events is worrying and requires us to invest much more in mitigation strategies, backed by strong legislation and financial commitments”
Mario Schirmer, EAWAG hydrogeologist in charge of the Thur River Basin restoration project.
A field trip to the Thur river was organised during the GA in order to share the work of the restoration project and demonstrate the Nature-based Solutions measures implemented in the basin. Mario stressed the importance of involving the local communities in the project, as well as receiving support from cantonal and municipal authorities (see full story here).
Separate workshops were held in conjunction with the GA, including a session on innovation management organised by Ramboll. This included defining innovation within the context of RECONECT, listing relevant innovations created by the project, and assessing whether these were desirable for the market, technically feasible and financially viable. The next step will be a follow-up online meeting to discuss the link between innovation and the RECONECT exploitation strategy.
The GA was also an opportunity to review the different monitoring, indicators and modelling work from different river basins across Europe, and beyond. RECONECT is for example also working with researchers from Colombia (see story), Malaysia and China, as well as connecting its work to other EU projects such as OPERANDUM and PHUSICOS (see story).
RECONECT works across a global and multi-disciplinary spectrum, focussing on NbS research, co-creation and upscaling at the same time. In an era when Europe’s natural capital is under increasing pressure, RECONECT stimulates innovation in land use planning and hydro-meteorological risk reduction with local and regional development objectives in a sustainable and financially viable way.