INNsieme: cross-border water protection at the AT-DE border


A tributary of the Danube River, the Inn is 517 km long and traverses three different countries, namely Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and travels through a large number of communities. In the past 30 years, each country has carried out activities to protect the environment and the fauna that live along the river, but flood prevention, tourism, agriculture, and energy sector investments contributed to damaging the area. The lack of coordination among countries also worsened the negative effects on the ecosystem, and revitalisation for flood protection is usually limited to national borders and to selected small areas. As a consequence, autonomous actions were rendered incapable of reversing the negative trends.

The INNsieme cross-border project seeks to compensate for this lack of coordination among national activities for environment and fauna protection. In this regard, the name of the project comes from the Italian word “insieme” which means “together” to highlight the importance of the cross-border aspect. It started in 2017 as part of the "River Dialogue Inn", which was initiated as an exchange platform for a wide variety of interest groups on the Alpine River. More specifically, the project entails four different working packages to address water protection and related measures:

  • development of a cross-border action plan for species protection
  • implementation of selected protective measures to strengthen biodiversity, addressing fish, beavers, endangered birds, insects, amphibians, etc., and vegetation
  • implementation of environmental education programmes, by organizing public events on the Inn, excursions and lectures for selected target groups, and project lessons for schools
  • effective public relations and exchange with relevant interest groups, intended to promote exchange, discussion and networking between various interest groups, local actors, and communities.

INNsieme also contributes directly to the implementation of the macro-regional EU strategy for the Alpine region (EUSALP), which is intended to strengthen the Alps as a habitat for both people and nature. It also addresses the objectives of the European Water Framework Directive as it involves the restoration and protection of a reviver basin habitat.



Tyrol (AT), Upper Bavaria (DE) and Lower Bavaria (DE).



The project was co-financed under the framework of Interreg V-A Austria-Germany/Bavaria with an ERDF contribution of about €800 000EUR. The project partners are the state of Tyrol, the University of Innsbruck, Verbund Innkraftwerke GmbH, Innwerk AG and Österreichisch-Bayerische Kraftwerke AG who have joined forces with WWF Austria to find solutions for sustainable protection of the Inn. In addition, more than a dozen other supporting and associated partners have joined the initiative. Several partners from Switzerland are involved as well, further increasing the cross-border approach to better tackle the issues. The project was launched officially in 2019 and will run until June 2022.



Within the project’s three-year period, the activities aim to produce a cross-border action plan for habitat and species protection on the Inn. This facilitates the three-country river to once again function properly as a lifeline for plants, animals and people by 2030. The action plan defines what protective measures are necessary, on which sections of the river they should be implemented, and outline which type of species benefit from the measures taken. Many activities such as bank restauration, pilot projects, and workshops have already been successful completed.

These challenges typically occur in many other Alpine rivers, making the Inn an ideal model river. The regional recommendations and strategies developed within the INNsieme project can also be transferred to other relevant river systems. The impact of this project, therefore, has the potential to extend well beyond the banks of the Inn.


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