Supporting champions in river management

Simon Mould, Kirstie Fryirs, Siwan Lovett, Richie Howitt

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


River champions are people working for better water and river management in a range of capacities, and who are particularly influential and effective in driving progress. The championship concept is not new, but tends to emphasize the bold and highly visible leader. This archetypal champion is at odds with the more humble and quieter forms of leadership that we frequently encounter in our work and communities. These less-visible champions are in danger of being overlooked. A more inclusive characterization of championship can enrich existing conceptualizations. We argue that many river champions lead quietly and are effective because they build and use social capital to influence others. They are well-connected and can help to bridge scales of management. We advocate that championship must be recognized and supported within and beyond institutions. This can be enacted by rewarding people for their time in ways that are meaningful and appropriate (i.e., not only financially) and by prioritizing connection between people. We offer specific examples of how this can be done in a river management setting. By recognizing and supporting river champions in all their forms, we can maximize their value as a critical component of participatory water and river management systems. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness. Engineering Water > Planning Water. Human Water > Water Governance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1445
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalWIREs Water
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • leadership
  • participation
  • river rehabilitation
  • social capital
  • social networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Supporting champions in river management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this