A river

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership & Rivers Trust

A collaborative initiative between The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and The Rivers Trust.

Working together to deliver systemic change within policy and business for collective river catchment management, CISL and Rivers Trust received a PWCF major grant of over £850,000 to deliver this collaborative project which began in 2018 and will carry on into mid-2022.

"Expressions such as 'going with the flow' and 'trying to push water uphill' were coined with good reason. That may seem trite, but to me it sums up why effective water management is both local and organised around the natural catchments which have been shaped by a combination of natural forces and human activity over millennia." HRH Prince of Wales - CISL Water Summit, May 2018.

The UK environment faces multiple threats from loss of habitat, damaged soils, water abstraction and pollution. Levels of abstraction are unsustainable in more than a quarter of groundwater bodies and up to one-fifth of surface waters.

Only 14% of waterbodies in England achieved the standard of Good Ecological Status (healthy) with none meeting the chemical standards as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive. There is risk of insufficient water for people, farmers, business and wildlife without improvements in infrastructure and efficiency according to the National Infrastructure Commission.

The project aims to:

  • Achieve aims set out in the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Build sustainable funding mechanisms for environmental improvement, advocate for greater integrated delivery from government agencies, water companies, local authorities and the  third sector by adopting a Catchment Based Approach (CaBA). 
  • Build capacity and capability and sharing of best across a range of catchment partnerships.  
  • Introduce new organisations to collective catchment management support.

The ambition is to demonstrate that ‘good’ catchment management can be achieved through changes in policy, regulation and through private sector investment, and to design, test and prove an approach that could be scaled across all 100+ English river catchments going forward. Currently, the project is focusing on a number of key catchments including Wye, Wyre, Tweed and a number in Dorset and the East of England.

To learn more, visit CISL's website here and The River Trust here.