A research project exploring the participatory processes of river basin management plans receives a DEMOC grant from the Government of Catalonia

Lecturer Marta Benages leads the research and its team, including lecturer Pere Vall and researchers from the University of Barcelona

The research project “VoluntaRius. Caracterització dels grups de voluntariat ambiental en l’àmbit fluvial”, led by UIC Barcelona School of Architecture lecturer Marta Benages, has recently been awarded a grant from the Government of Catalonia’s DEMOC programme, which funds research projects in the field of democratic quality. Also involved in the research are lecturer Pere Vall and researchers Enric Pol and Tomeu Vidal from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Barcelona.  

“VoluntaRius” proposes the analysis of environmental volunteering efforts in river systems, based primarily on volunteers’ personal experiences, in order to design participatory processes aimed at the conservation of riverscapes by self-managed groups of citizens. “The EU Water Framework Directive recognises the social dimension rivers have and advocates active citizen participation in river basin management plans. However, 20 years following its introduction, citizen participation still represents an ongoing objective”, explains Marta Benages. 

As such, the project seeks to replace vertically governed participation aimed at conflict resolution with a horizontal participation model. It aims to promote volunteering as a form of joint citizen responsibility in managing riverscapes. In order to achieve this, the researchers will qualitatively analyse the personal factors behind volunteers’ decision to join a group, as well as evaluating the influence of the same factors from groups involved with the Besòs river basin, through a quantitative analysis. 

This project is the continuation of “Viu la riera!”, an earlier project by the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture research group Community-based Urbanism. In 2016, it received funding from RecerCaixa, and was also led by UIC Barcelona lecturers in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of the Environment at the University of Girona.  

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