River restoration and the European Biodiversity Strategy

Ioli Christopoulou gave an interview on the restoration of the rivers to Ioanna Niaoti at the radio show #NaMaste of the Deftero Radio Programme. Recalling the romantic years of the pre-industrial period and the vital role of rivers for the cities and their inhabitants, the Policy Director of The Green Tank commented on the modern trend of river restoration as a central European goal to bring nature back into our lives.

Giving examples from Switzerland and the UK, Ioli Christopoulou stressed that river restoration in large urban centres requires planning for proper space, cost evaluation taking into account the numerous benefits derived and, most importantly, consultation with city residents.

Regarding Athens in particular, she pointed on the one hand to the abundance of water resources and on the other to the significant environmental loss from the alteration to the natural flow of rivers and streams, which causes increasingly strong reactions and interventions by citizens’ movements at the local level. She suggested that the restoration of rivers should be constitutively integrated into a well elaborated and more mature planning to address the climate crisis and alleviate the heat waves the Greece experiences more and more intensely.

Finally, she referred to the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy and the restoration targets which include the restoration of 25000 km of free-flowing rivers. Pending a detailed legislative proposal from the European Commission that will set a binding legal target in this direction, she mentioned that both in Greece and the Balkans there are several examples of free-flowing rivers which could be considered and used as an example for the redesign of urban spaces.

The interview was held on 27/02/2022. It is available in Greek here: