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Work Packages /_Case Studies /_Switzerland

The Rhone 3 (hereinafter referred to as R3) case study encompasses the upper catchment of the river Rhone, extending entirely in the southern edge of the Swiss Alps, included entirely within Swiss territory. The catchment lies almost entirely in the Canton Vallis.

Based solely on its geographical extension, the Programme can be defined as of regional importance. However, the program R3 is primarily concerned with ensuring safety against floods. Under this condition, and according to the Swiss legislation, it assumes a character of National importance and is eligible of funding by the Federal Government.

Since the early stage of the work package 5 we have considered the opportunity to integrate one of the three most important river management projects currently under implementation in Switzerland, namely the Linth, the Rhine and Rhone river management projects. The common aspects of the three identified cases are: (i) all projects include participatory approaches although only the Linth and the R3 have applied these since the early stage of the Project planning; (ii) the three projects are considered of National importance and therefore imply both financial contribution and monitoring by the federal Authority; and (iii) all of them include a flood control component; this latter is a preponderant issue in the R3 project.

In selecting the case study, one of our primary objectives was to ensure a collaborative attitude from the management of the Project which we anticipated would have greatly facilitated the obtaining of information through interviews and participation, as observers, to meetings and consultations with the various actors and stakeholders.

The R3 programme pursues three main objectives, namely: (i) protection against foods, (ii) restoration of the River's biological functions, and (iii) re-establishment of the River's socio-economic functions. By its geographical extension, the R3 programme is the largest of the river basin management projects presently undertaken in Switzerland. The whole R3 programme is planned over a duration of 30 years and the budget planned for its realization is in the order of one billion Euro.

Due to its extension, both geographical and in time, and based on the lesson learnt from the two river training programs which have preceded R3, the implementing Authority wishes to adopt a participatory approach with the intent to offer to the various actors the opportunity to express their objectives and expectancies with the intention to integrate these latter in the R3 project.

Participatory approaches in River basin management are still limited in Switzerland. The participatory processes applied in the on-going and most significant Linth (Linth Commission, 2003), Thur (Kanton Thurgau, 2001) and Rhine Rivers training projects3 have not yet produced sufficient lesson learnt. The R3 is at a preparatory stage; therefore we have focused on: (i) constitution of the participatory concept; (ii) approaches to social learning; and (iii) identification and application of IC Tools.

Our primary objective was to document the constitution of the participatory concept. We have conducted interviews with leading actors, we assisted to meetings with stakeholders (representative of local entities and of groups of interests) as well as with planners.

For more information, see