Considered the largest river in Europe, the Volga passes through central Russia and pours into the Caspian Sea. The river and its basin, however, are increasingly coming under stress from the cities surrounding it. The EU-funded project 'Cooperation along a big river: institutional coordination among stakeholders for environmental risk management in the Volga basin' (CABRI-VOLGA) coordinated environmental management for this important body of water. The project brought together more than 70 experts to identify environmental challenges and address them. The study covered water quality, drinking water, sanitation, public health, biodiversity and natural habitats. Project partners examined the vulnerability of the Volga Basin, including issues such as sustainable use of water resources, economic development and sustainable transport. Emphasis was placed on fostering cooperation between key stakeholders and institutions to support better assessment and the development of solutions to meet environmental risks. Efforts aimed to enhance environmental and human welfare in Russia and in Europe. The CABRI-VOLGA project aimed to extend participation to include members representing over 500 key institutions, thus ensuring balanced international risk management and contribution to a global action plan. All project results were disseminated through reports, emails, newsletters and online in both English and Russian. The project's initiatives are likely to help make the Volga a more sustainable river basin. The powerful model also has the potential to be an inspiration to other river basins around the world.