Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation

Project description

A blueprint for freshwater restoration projects

Nature can be mobilised to protect itself, with nature-based solutions (NbS) being employed to transform environmental problems into opportunities. Ecosystem restoration using NbS is important; for instance, freshwaters play a big role in the restoration of streams, rivers, peatlands and wetlands. In this context, the EU-funded MERLIN project will demonstrate best practices for freshwater restoration. Bringing together 44 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes and nature conservation organisations, as well as stakeholders for businesses, governments and municipalities, the project will draw on successful freshwater restoration projects across Europe transforming them into beacons of innovation. Through collaborations with local communities and key economies, MERLIN will co-develop win–win solutions spearheading systemic economic, social and environmental change.


Europe's environment is in an alarming state, with climate change effects aggravating. To secure economic prosperity, human wellbeing and social peace, systemic transformative change of our society is imperative. Ecosystem restoration using nature-based solutions (NbS) is key to this change, in which freshwaters hold a pivotal role. MERLIN will demonstrate freshwater restoration best-practice; implement innovative NbS at landscape-scale; upscale systemic restoration seizing green growth and private investment opportunities; mainstream restoration by co-development with local communities and economic sectors; multiply solutions for transformative restoration to key players of systemic change. MERLIN will capitalise on successful freshwater restoration projects across Europe. Success factors of 17 flagship projects will be scrutinized, generating a blueprint for proficient NbS implementation. With investments of 10 mio Euro in hands-on upscaling measures along scalability plans, MERLIN will transform these projects into beacons of innovation for systemic change. Upscaling to the European level, MERLIN will identify landscapes with high potential for transformative restoration and will analyse cost-benefits of restoration scenarios. Economic analyses of European regions will seize green growth opportunities arising from restoration. MERLIN will delineate models for private investment into restoration alongside public funding. MERLIN's initiatives will co-design win-win solutions with economic sectors (agriculture, water supply, insurance, navigation) and local communities, spearheading systemic economic, social and environmental change. The MERLIN Academy and virtual marketplace will multiply innovations to the community of practice, investors and policy makers across Europe and beyond. MERLIN is committed to a sustainable, climate-neutral and -resilient, inclusive and transformative path, mainstreaming restoration as a cornerstone for systemic change.

Call for proposal


See other projects for this call

Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 1 604 875,00
Universitatsstrasse 2
45141 Essen

See on map

Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf Essen, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (45)