Good governance and innovative financing for the Brenta River.

  • Nature Governance
  • European Commission
  • Italy
  • 2019-2022
  • https:

  • ETRA S.p.A
    Municipality of Carmignano di Brenta
    Veneto Agricoltura
    University of Padova
    Consiglio di Bacino Brenta
    Veneto Acque

In 2016, Etifor, together with the associations and institutions of the Middle-Brenta area, organized a crowdfunding campaign named “Un Parco per il Fiume Brenta” (meaning “a Park for the Brenta River”). The main goal of the campaign was to “reawaken” local institutions and people from a long-lasting management “hibernation” that the Brenta River area had been subjected to for many years. The reaction of local people, companies and civil society has been extremely positive: as a result, the campaign led to the most successful crowdfunding for a Natura 2000 site in Italy.

In 2017, the project aiming to establish the Operational Group “Gruppo Operativo Brenta (GO) 2020” was funded and, in 2018, the second phase was financed with the approval of GO Brenta 2030. The activities of the Operational Group will complement the activities carried out in the context of the LIFE Brenta 2030: while the LIFE will develop actions on the green infrastructures in the Natura 2000 area, the Operational Group will focus on the agricultural aspects in the wider area of the Middle-Brenta Plain. These two projects, therefore, share objectives and approaches, but address different stakeholders and have different targets. This complementarity between GO Brenta 2030 and LIFE Brenta 2030 increases the actions’ efficacy and efficiency, that rely on a multiple-fund integration strategy. This shared path is what we have named “Parco Fiume Brenta“.

The problem

LIFE Brenta 2030, a project funded by the LIFE – Nature and Biodiversity Programme of the European Union, will address the following set of problems affecting the fluvial area of the Middle-Brenta:

  • Lack of good governance and usage conflicts
    The absence of a local managing body that can see to the management of natural capital, together with the reduction in public spending for the establishment of new Parks in the regional territory, worsened the already degraded conditions of the fluvial area.
  • Water abstraction and consequent lowering of the groundwater table
    The regional water management body defined the Middle-Brenta area as a strategic source for drinkable water provision: this area supplies 30% of the drinkable water needed by the whole region. In the context of the project “Derivazione dalle falde del Medio Brenta” (meaning “Water abstraction from Middle-Brenta groundwater tables”) 7 new wells for drinkable water abstraction were set up, but the groundwater-recharge and mitigation measures adopted were not sufficient to reassure local bodies.
  • Elevated anthropization and recreational use of habitats and water resources’ protection areas
    The area is characterized by a high population density (about 509/inhabitants/km2). The lack of regulation and awareness caused the recreational use of floodplains and basins to be of disturbance for several animal species and led to the damage of habitats due to waste dumping and damage due to trampling.
  • Ecological fragmentation and habitat reduction caused by agricultural and mining activities
    The area of the Brenta River is characterized by a strong agricultural vocation: about 43% of the land is cultivated and the crisis of the sector favours the spread of unsustainable management practices.

The solution

The partners of the project LIFE Brenta 2030 will work together to implement the following actions:

Preparatory actions

  • Integration of water resources planning (the so-called Piano d’Ambito) with the Natura 2000 conservation measures, ecosystem services and green infrastructures (water resources’ safeguard areas)
  • Analysis of primary ecosystem services and development of scenarios of intervention for future safeguard measures
  • Executive planning and environmental evaluation of conservation and restoration measures
  • Governance, capacity-building and stakeholder involvement

Conservation Actions

  • Implementation of the pilot funding mechanism for water resources and biodiversity conservation
  • Plant breeding, nursery and planting to increment floristic biodiversity
  • Green/blu infrastructures development and moist multifunctional habitat restoration
  • Infrastructures to reduce the impact of recreational use
  • Involvement of the agricultural sector, promotion of agri-environmental measures and of other funding opportunities
  • Implementation of an innovative environmental control system in support of monitoring and governance

Cross-cutting Actions

  • Monitoring of habitat and species, of socio-economic impacts of the project and of water ecosystem services
  • Development of communication and dissemination tools, technical communication addressed to key stakeholders, networking and lobbying to favour sustainability and replicability of the project
  • Environmental education activities and dissemination addressing local population and primary school of the municipalities in the area of the Brenta river

Our contribution

Etifor designed the project and led the participatory planning phase on the ground. During the implementation phase Etifor will be responsible of the following macro-actions:

  • Calculation of the Environmental and Resource Cost (ERC) for the water sector according to the relevant regulations (Decreto 39/2015 e l’art. 9 della Direttiva Acque)
  • Development of an innovative funding mechanism based on the recovery of the ERC within the water pricing
  • Management of the stakeholder involvement, consultation and capacity-building activities on the ground
  • Involvement of the agricultural sector, promotion of the agro-environmental measures and of the other funding opportunities
  • Support to the Coordinator (ETRA) in project management
  • Development of technical communication tools and lobbying (website, social network, broadcast campaigns, etc.)