About the Youth Network for River Action

The Youth Network for River Action was born in 2015 during the Big Jump Challenge. The Big Jump Challenge 2015 culminated in Brussels, where our river ambassadors presented a Youth Manifesto (read more about it here). This vision is the basis for exchange between groups and actions at, for and in the river, abd subsequent summer camps: 2016 in Berlin with a focus on urban waters, and 2017 in Slovenia with a focus on wild rivers.


YNRA 2017: A year for Wild Rivers

The Wild River Youth Camp in Slovenia, 22-28.9.2017

The Wild Rivers Camp seeks to strengthen the youth voice in the huge effort of European Water conservation - by bringing young people together and giving them tools to interact with other voices from politics, administration and civil society. 

With a focus on natural rivers, their unique morphology, ecology and consequently water high water quality, participants will be able to rediscover pristine rivers that are soon to disappear due to dam construction and poor river management. Participants will have an opportunity to experience untamed rivers and then discuss the Water Framework Directive with administrators, politicians, and social innovators moving from the local, to the national and finally to the trans-boundary, transnational level. The participants will produce, present and discuss a policy briefing on wild, free-flowing rivers, with specific reference to the Water Framework Directive and Bathing Directive. 

So far have youth played a marginal role in the European water conservation policy process at best. Yet the European Water Framework Directive will not be implemented in time and therefore European water conservation effectively becomes a multi-generational task; experiences have to be passed on, new perspectives have to be brought in by the younger generation. There is an additional task: rivers cross countries and water conservation unites people across boarders. Therefore the water conservation is a theme to nurture European civil relations and to reconfigure them.

32 youths between 18 and 28 years old, from 13 countries will come to Tolmin, Slovenia for a week of group work on water conservation. Soča valley expects you from September 22.-28. 2017!

You would like to participate? Then please send your expression of interest to info@bigjumpchallenge.net by July 15.It will be passed on to the respective national partner of the Youth camp, who will make the final decision on participants from the respective country.

Travel costs and accommodation will be covered via Erasmus+. There will be a small participation fee to cover additional costs. Due to the limited number of places, we will select those participants who demonstrate an active interest in wild rivers.

How to demonstrate active interest? For example, by using the modules in our 2017 river action toolbox and sending us your results and thoughts! Read more about it here.


Photo Credit: Kristin Eisele


 Big Jump 2016 and the Bathing Water Directive

This year the Big Jump celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Bathing Water Directive. Huh? Let us provide some background for you: The goal of this European policy is to preserve, protect and improve the quality of the environment, i.e. here the bathing areas. For this, the directive mandates monitoring and managing the bathing water and to inform the public!

Depending on the levels of bacteria detected, the bathing water quality is classified as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘sufficient’ or ‘poor’. The European Environment Agency (EEA) produces an annual report based on data from the previous bathing season. The annual bathing water report in the European Union published on May 26th that suggests that bathing water quality has improved continuously over time. 96% of monitored bathing sites met the minimum standards for water quality in the 2015 bathing water season.

However, there are also limitations of the Directive. The water quality standards are not verified for those swimming spots that not officially count as bathing water, even if they are used in this way. In addition, at official swimming spots there is the question when to measure. Should it happen more often? For example, to track for pollution due to heavy rain events or human activities? And how to define the measurement? There are a lot of other micro-organisms in surface waters that are not routinely investigated, but can cause serious diseases. Here things quickly become complex and costly . . . unless we do not pollute our rivers and lakes in the first place. But even then, there is an important further issue. Many people no longer know how to swim in rivers. What are the opportunities, and what are the risks? Here more needs to be done to ensure fun, but also safe and healthy swimming. A first step in this direction are the systems developed by the EU (see graph).

A last interesting aspect of the Directive: according to article 11 of the Directive it is mandated to “encourage public participation in the implementation. This shall relate, in particular, to the establishment, review and updating of lists of bathing waters”. In plain words: your jump counts! So let’s make a big splash in 2016, for river swimming . . . and for living rivers. The “bathing spots” are actually “protected areas” under the Water Framework Directive. This makes sense: the human body is an indicator of good water quality for humans and for other living beings. You can protect rivers in your bathing suit. But this also means that you need to respect the river. Swim gently in the river, and leave no garbage behind.

More information

Alongside the report, the EEA has published an interactive map showing the performance of each bathing site. The best swimming areas were in Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Germany and Austria—all of which had more than 90 percent of bathing sites rated “excellent”. The revised Directive also makes it easier for citizens to access information on bathing water quality through “bathing water profiles”. These online profiles contain information on the kind of pollution and sources that affect the quality of the bathing water and are a risk to bathers’ health.

You can read more about the relevant piece of legislation and policy here:

a. BWD - Bathing Water Directive (EU)
b. EEA - European Environment Agency (EU)
c. WFD - Water Framework Directive (EU)
d. Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive
e. Nitrates Directive


(Source: EEA Report No 9/2016)                                                                                                     (Source: BWD 2006/7/EC)

About the Big Jump Challenge 2015

Welcome to the campaign platform of the Big Jump Challenge, the youth campaign for European River Swimming Day!

What’s it about?

Every year thousands of people all over Europe simultaneously jump into their rivers and lakes. Is it fun? Of course! Is it for a good cause? For sure! And what is it all about? To set the stage for water protection. Why? Because the European Union (EU) has one big goal: all rivers and lakes should be in good condition by 2015. But many water bodies are still far from this state.

How can I join in?

The Big Jump Challenge is the youth campaign of the Big Jump. It supports you and your team in the preparation of your Water Action. Put your river, stream, or lake onto the front page of the local newspaper and the agenda of authorities and parliaments! Here you will find inspiration, ideas, and a partner team. We give you assistance, but also room for your own ideas.

Timeline der Big Jump Challenge

1) Warming up!

Some teams already jumped into their water bodies for European River Swimming Day, to call attention to the ecological state of their local river or lake. If you didn't jump with us in 2014, no problem - as long as you’re with us to jump in 2015!


2) Find your partner!

Starting in summer 2014: You register to jump, and we'll help you find a partner team from another EU country to jump with you in 2015. You should know who your partner team is by 15th February2015. After that, it's of course still possible to organize an action for Big Jump 2015 – but be aware that by this time there is a possibility you may jump without a partner team. Register anyway – the important thing is to be there!


3) Prepare for partner jumps!

Prepare for partner jumps! - Starting in Fall 2014, you'll organize various community actions for water conservation and protection with your partner team. As preparation for the partner jumps in May/June 2015, you can try out our River Action Toolbox, for example, at team meetings, in classrooms or at workshops. The tools help you realise your ideas and to organize creative, effective events - so you can make waves for water protection!


4) Jump together!

The simultaneous partner jumps happen between May 1st and June 30th, 2015. Pick a time and date with your partner team so you can both jump at the same time in solidarity for freshwater protection.


5) Get your European leaders engaged:

Get your European leaders engaged! - On July 12th, 2015, Europe celebrates the European River Swimming Day with a Big Jump. In the target year of the EU Water Framework Directive, more than 300, 000 passionate river and freshwater protectors are expected to jump. In connection with this major event, we present your actions and ideas to policy makers at the European Rivers Parliament. Big Jump Challenge participants will discuss their ideas and wishes with political EU decision-makers.

The European Rivers Parliament shall take place in Brussels, and demands for water protection will be presented and discussed there. It shall be accompanied by an exhibition, which will be designed by all the teams – with your videos, photos, posters, information and results! And the best part: the most engaged and creative teams get to send a representative as a River Ambassador to the European Rivers Parliament.

What about the rest of you? Your experience will be needed to support the local events for the joint Big Jump 2015!





How can you be the most engaged and creative team?

You can show how engaged you are by using as many of the tools as possible, or using a few of the tools in the most creative ways - even before any of your jumps! Send us the evidence of your actions and engagement to show how creative your River Action Campaign really is, and we'll publish the results on your profile page to show everyone what you've done. There are also extra points for helpfulness and collaboration – because in the end it's important that we represent all the teams in Brussels and make waves for water protection.

You can find the River Action Toolbox here!