Tools for local water participation

Organisation: Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

Location: International

Type: Apps & Tools

Link: Visit Website

The purpose of these tools is to provide support and inspiration to water councils (catchment partnerships), local water groups and authorities. These tools aim to increase participation and cooperation, resulting in more action.

The work we do together is a long-term learning process. We can learn by developing our visions, by acting and reflecting on what we do. To learn from one another, we need trust each other, which is brought about by encounters and discussions. We need to use networks to cooperate, in order to achieve our visions.

The basic prerequisites for participation are access, scope and an opportunity to influence. For this, both structure and approaches need to be developed and made clear. These tools should help with this.

Some basic approaches:

  • Openness, invitation and an opportunity to participate. This also means that the information and the process are open and comprehensible.
  • Listening provides the foundation for discussion. A listening approach creates a climate of respect for one another where we can share knowledge and perspectives.
  • We need to be able to participate on equal terms. Everyone’s experiences and thoughts are important to the learning, to the experience as a whole. This is why everyone needs scope and influence in the process.
  • Understanding both the local concept and the local element in a wider concept is important.

These tools include everything from really simple methods to more complicated measures, and they include everything from group interaction to specific actions.

Learn by doing:

The tools are described in brief. Try using them, see how they work, combine them and rework them so that they suit you. Maybe you could develop your own new tools. The aim is for them to support your group process and make a contribution. Process leaders with a little experience may be needed to assist with some of the tools. The water district authorities or an adult education association can be consulted if you need help. Open, inviting work is usually inspired, engaging and fun. Don’t forget to highlight your progress – and celebrate!

These tools have been created on behalf of the Interreg project Water Co-Governance by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management.

Water council development

The purpose of the tools is to support and inspire water groups, associations, organizations and authorities. The tools will provide conditions for increased participation and collaboration and thereby contribute to more action.

1. Listing and sorting of thoughts

Get everyone in the group to put forward their thoughts and ideas, then sort them.


2. Listing thoughts on a board/flipchart

Get everyone in the group to put forward their thoughts, ideas, etc.


3. Listen and talk

Develop the thoughts and ideas, and practise listening.


4. Prioritisation

A way to work together to prioritise the elements that the group thinks are most important.


5. Timeline for planning

This is a way to jointly create an image of how you envisage a future course of events. It can be used when a group is to jointly create an action plan.


6. Synergy Method

This is an alternative to the traditional agenda that may be appropriate for certain meetings. The agenda is created jointly at the beginning of the meeting.


7. Introductions

When new groups meet, it is valuable that everyone gets to introduce themselves. By telling a little about who you are, you get a good start in the group where everyone can make their voice heard. We can then let go of thoughts about who the others are and instead take on a common task or experience.


8. News

News rounds can be a good way to start a meeting where the group meets regularly.


9. Evaluation Timeline

A timeline is a good way to visualise a historical sequence of events.


10. Reflection

What went well? What could be improved? Reflection is an important element in collective learning.


11. Room layout

Creating an environment in which everyone has the same closeness indicates that we want to include people and create discussions on equal terms.


12. Refreshments

Refreshments are not just important because they give us the opportunity to have a nice snack. They provide a valuable opportunity to speak informally, relax, open up to new issues and chat to new people.


13. Roles and “hats”

This tool allows you to discover what different roles group participants have.


14. Shared Visions

Vibrant and specific visions are important to ensure that everyone shares the same direction, driving force and cooperation.


15. Planning for the future

A playful way to use the vision to create a story from today’s date up to the vision.


16. Participant mapping and audit

This involves mapping skills, involvement, training requirements, ongoing projects and other elements so that you gain an overview of resources and needs within the group as a whole.


17. Action plan and objectives

The purpose of an action plan is to provide structure and facilitate implementation for the group, helping you to achieve the targets and visions that you have defined. This plan answers the questions of WHO does WHAT, HOW and WHEN.


18. Communications Plan

Good communication is necessary if organisations and projects are to work.


18(b). Communications Plan Template

Use this template as a guide for creating your communications plan.


19. Workgroup development

Workgroups may relate to different sub-projects within the same geographical area, or else various local workgroups that relate to parts of a river basin may be involved.


Time to celebrate!

Being proud of what you have achieved together is an important part of any cooperation. Therefore, don’t forget to celebrate the results and thank the people who made these results possible.

Celebrating may involve a small celebration – bringing a cake to a regular coffee break and celebrating the results. Or it may involve a larger celebration out at the new wetlands, with an opening speech and an orchestra. No matter what the size, this celebration provides an opportunity for reflection, pride and a sense of fellowship.

Participation and knowledge

The purpose of the tools is to support and inspire water groups, associations, organizations and authorities. The tools will provide conditions for increased participation and collaboration and thereby contribute to more action.

1. The “best places” method

Using a map, you work together to compile a list of beautiful, valuable, interesting or educational places in the river basin.


2. Species or cultural history environment of the day

This is a way of increasing awareness of typical or particularly interesting species, ecosystems and cultural history environments within the river basin.


3. Meetings

Meetings can be used to develop work with water in a river basin. People from different contexts, such as landowners, associations, hydropower owners, anglers, authorities and companies, can meet up at the sessions in order to discuss a specific topic.


4. Local networking and expansion of perspectives

Reach out to a larger group of people by using existing local networks, and to include new groups in order to obtain new perspectives, a wider holistic approach and further information.


5. Waterside Cultural History and Nature

Including cultural history in work involving water is one way of extending participation and making this work even more interesting.


6. Site Visits

Visiting a place together in order to study a specific environment or subject can bring new knowledge, new perspectives and new ideas.


7. Sponsored watercourse

“Sponsored watercourse” involves taking responsibility for and exploring “your own” watercourse. This can be done as a landowner, in a water group or by a school.


8. Watercourse hikes

During a watercourse hike, you walk along the watercourse in order to explore the area and learn about it together with others.


9. Information along trails

These trails provide a useful starting point for talking about the local water environments, nature and cultural history.


10. Water and creativity

Water and nature are a fantastic source of inspiration and creativity. This allows us to link culture and water work.


11. Water in schools

Water, river basins and coasts are a fantastic starting point for teaching in many subject areas at schools, and they are very useful when it comes to learning about sustainable development.


12. Nature guide training

Nature guide training is used to inspire, train and lower the threshold so that more people feel capable of leading their own local guided tours of nature or watercourse hikes.


13. Hold a Water Day

Hold a Water Day to present your water system or a watercourse to the wider public


14. River or coastline twinning

Forge contact with people, schools and communities near other world rivers in order to swap experiences, find out new things and create a global perspective


15. Knowledge library

There is frequently a lot of knowledge from an area, such as earlier inventories and samples.


16. Presentations

The purpose is to present the work and purpose of the partnership, arouse curiosity and provide people with information.


17. Water system presentation

The purpose is to present the water system and provide an overall view of it in respect of nature, water, geology, the community, cultural history, ecosystem services and problems, and possibly suggested measures as well.


18. The river basin as a concept and map

A good and sufficiently detailed map of the river basin is one of the most educational tools you can use in order to understand how the water links the landscape together.


19. GIS analyses and speciality maps

Educational maps based on various topics such as soil types, erosion risks, wetness, natural assets, history, groundwater and floodplains provide valuable information for understanding the river basin.


20. Videoing with drones and underwater cameras

The videos can be used in many ways, such as creating a video that is posted online, in presentations or in StoryMaps.


21. Asset mapping

Mapping ecosystem services in a water system increases understanding and the options for making the most of these assets.


22. Cooperation with ditch drainage companies

Cooperation with ditch drainage companies can be used to develop methods that reduce ditch maintenance costs as well as improving the water environment in agricultural areas.


Translate »