River University 2021 – 2nd edition in Lithuania / Coalition Clean Baltic and Environmental Club Žvejonė
River Ula, Lithuania. Picture @Jūratė Morkvėnaitė-Paulauskienė
The international and open River University:
- Started in Poland with its pilot in 2018 and the 1st edition in 2020.
- Its professional river education has an ambition to change the reality by creating a strong center/network of modern knowledge, linking experts and giving the opportunity to participants to learn about peculiarities of different rivers in the Baltic region.
- We provide tools to use in practice, exchange information and experience about inland waters and its impact on the Baltic Sea, to spark joint initiatives for the sake of rivers’ good condition.
- Riverine topics always reflect source-to-sea approach and relation to current trends, challenges, legislation regarding freshwaters, and free-flowing rivers : #restorenature law, UN restoration decade, Biodiversity strategy 2030, European Green Deal, national recovery plans etc.
In 2018, the River University mostly served for the purpose of gathering river experts from several transboundary basins of Poland (Odra, Vistula/Western Bug, Neman) with their counterparts from Belarus and Ukraine to discuss i.a. issues related to inland navigation and large infrastructure projects on straightening river flows in these countries. 1st edition of River University in 2020 provided general solid knowledge about healthy rivers, their benefits and threats, presented one of the most stunning rivers in Poland – Drawa river and highlighted current riverine challenges impacting the society. All these looking towards European community goals.
During the 2nd edition in 2021, we swam into Lithuania’s waters, to dive deep – finally live! – into water challenges in the next country in the Baltic region. We got to know best practices of good water management, experience with transboundary river cooperation, also innovations and developments within sewerage system management. We can already read about flood risk management and about river barriers to remove or mitigate in the Baltic Sea Region. But this time we asked – how are the Lithuanian rivers?
Being a visitor of the largest protected area in Lithuania, crossing rivers outdoor, stepping into practical lectures in the national park, we also asked about how to limit riverine pollution from tourism and how the connectivity of amazing Lithuanian rivers is ensured.
Checking the European background: how the situation of rivers in Europe looks like in general? A freshly given analysis CCB participated in, points out that, only Finland, amongst EU countries, is on a good track to reach Water Framework Directive (WFD) goals and legally binding EU target to return Europe’s dirty freshwaters to health by 2027. However there is still time to improve other river basin management plans during the consultations. Now is the time for other countries to make the final sprint for the rest of the European rivers! Always is the time to learn about them, their challenges related communities face, efficient ways to take care of them. That was our purpose also this time, while being in Lithuania.
We met in one of the major national parks in Lithuania, famous for pine tree forests which hide tiny Lithuanian villages, sandy rivers and lakes. Some Lithuanian rivers are silent and shallow, others are rapid and curvy. This time we got to know and experience one of the most spectacular ones – Ula river. Dzūkijos nacionalinis parkas iš paukščio skrydžio. Lietuvos gamta – “Dzūkijos uoga” – YouTube
HOW: mainly outdoors; lectures and presentations were provided in the English language; helping each other with translation when needed was an element of teamwork.
WHO: We invited up to 25 participants, foreign and Lithuanian ones, those interested in inland waters, water management topics, current trends and challenges in these fields.
– On-site participation was open to participants from the Baltic Sea Region (Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Belarus and Ukraine).
– Some online lectures are available and open to everyone (check the YouTube playlist below).
Only vaccinated people were welcomed to join and have their costs covered by CCB. A valid (not older than 48 hrs) negative PCR test was accepted, if a vaccine was not yet available. Participants from the previous edition varied among sectors: NGO, scientists, specialists, practitioners, water-related and environmental protection institutions, business, municipalities, politics.
REGISTRATION: The registrations are closed.
You can check the River University on Facebook and look for the recordings of some lectures on our YouTube channel.
11 AUGUST 2021
Legal efficient protection of rivers, Paweł Pawlaczyk, Naturalists’ Club. [Recording available]
River connectivity and legislation improvements in Lithuania, Jonė Leščinskaitė, Strategic change groups, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Environment. [Recording available]
12 AUGUST 2021
Lithuanian rivers: major environmental problems and what climate change means for them, Svajunas Plunge, Faculty of Natural Sciences at Vytautas Magnus University. [Recording available]
River basin management in Lithuania, Jurgita Vaitiekūnienė, Environmental Policy Center. [Recording available]
River microplastic pollution in Lithuania, Dr. Žaneta Stasiškienė, Director of the Institute of Environmental Engineering, Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). [Recording available]
Invertebrates in the river. Collection and recording of the test substance, Doc. Ingrida Šatkauskienė, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Vytautas Magnus University. [Recording available]
14 AUGUST 2021
Sea trout are back in Lithuanian river after successful restoration under the RETROUT project, Nerijus Nika, Klaipeda University.
Introduction to water resources, Mohammad Reza Eini, PhD student of Warsaw University of Life Sciences
- Press release by Jūratė Morkvėnaitė-Paulauskienė published in “Science Lithuania” and in the regional newspaper “Alytaus naujienos”
- Alkos newspaper
- News in Dzukija nacional park´s web site
- News in the website of the Ministry of Environment in Lithuania and on the post on its Facebook page.
Photo Gallery from the event:
Video – Ula river, Lithuania (Credit: Agnieszka Czajka):
The organizer of our stay in Lithuania: Jūratė Morkvėnaitė-Paulauskienė.
Ewa Leś, CCB Working Group Leader on River Basin and Wastewater Management
Originator and founder of River University/Rzeczny Uniwersytet (tested in 2018, established internationally in 2020).
A biologist by profession, but looking towards people and their perception of the environment. Co-founder of Koalicja Ratujmy Rzeki/Save The Rivers Coalition (KRR), a social initiative for the protection of natural rivers in Poland, gathering the voices of ‘river stakeholders’ into one strong tone. Member of EEB water working group, Observer of International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution. Co-creator and coordinator of the first Water Round Table in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Environment (2009-2011). Engaged in creating a Partnership for the Baltic initiative (2007-2011). Particularly working in areas of transboundary rivers, water stakeholders inclusion and engagement, water conflicts, water democracy building. A supporter of NVC dialogue. She comes from her two parental organizations: Society of Friends of Ina and Gowienica rivers and EkoUnia Association.
~ Let’s go with the river flow and learn from each other! ~
Funded by: Under the patronage of the European Parliament: Under the patronage of the Ministry of Environment of the Republicof Lithuania: