Estuarine dynamics are to a large extent unpredictable and show emergent behaviour. These dynamics have often been ‘altered’ in the past – at least in many cases in Europe - by human intervention. The reason for this is that estuaries provide the conditions for prosperous social and economic development, as can be seen in agricultural land reclamation, harbours and navigation, fishery and recreation. Due to the human caused alterations of the estuarine dynamics in the past, and the current need for space for both nature, social and economic spatial functions, estuaries have a strong multi-issue, multiactor and multi-level character. Many issues are at stake, with a lot of interdependent stakeholders with different perspectives and goals, and decision making that takes place on different interacting levels. However, the governance of estuaries is often not adequate to deal with this complex character of estuaries. This becomes apparent in the fragmented institutional structures of estuaries, the unclear allocation of roles, responsibilities and resources, patchy financial management, limited long-term strategic planning and poor economic regulation and legislation. This complexity makes it difficult to find sound and integrated solutions that are socially, economically and environmentally acceptable, and create an urge for adaptive and sustainable governance of estuaries.
The EMOVE-project has resulted in a broad overview of estuarine pressures, governance challenges and business ideas, shared by the different stakeholders. The essential experiences of the EMOVE project are presented in the this European Governance Vision.