Writing cross-country authority letters - Big Jump Challenge - Toolbox

Writing cross-country authority letters

How do we get information about our river, stream, or lake? How do we let the authorities know that we are interested in water protection? And how do we show them that we're not the on our own, but collaborate internationally?






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Do we need to justify freshwater protection?

The Big Jump is an opportunity to celebrate the successes that have been made in regards to the chemical and ecological condition of our rivers and lakes. If you are not yet satisfied with the conditions of your river, the Big Jump is an opportunity to demand, in a non-violent way, that more efforts are made in the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). By 2003 all member states had to appoint authorities that are responsible for the implementation of the WFD. So by now for each river or lake in the EU you should find at least one person in charge of the WFD and water conservation issues. It is their job to ensure that the objectives of the WFD will be achieved. This job is challenging, and as you learned -  if you look into our module "European water policy" - some of the authorities still have some homework to do.

Why is it important to involve the authorities?

So there are at least two good reasons to contact your respective regional authority:

  1. You will get first-hand information about the status of your river or lake, about the status of implementation of the WFD, as well as best practices and local challenges.
  2. By contacting the people in charge you can show that there is public interest in the implementation of the WFD (as well as novel issues such as wild rivers!). Requesting a response, challenges the people responsible in a friendly way: The most engaged will like the idea of cooperating with engaged youth, the less engaged will be reminded do to their tasks.
How do we make the right impression and get the authority to act?

To unleash our collective power we will borrow the idea of cross-country letter writing from Amnesty International. With their international letter writing campaign, Amnesty International is motivating people worldwide to write letters to the governmental authorities of countries that infringe on human rights by imprisoning people for illegitimate reasons. In their letters people express solidarity for those unjustly imprisoned and demand that the authorities set the prisoner free. Along with the hope that these letters give to the people in prison, the campaign has succeeded in setting many of the prisoners free. For example, Birtukan Mideksa, an opposition party leader in Ethiopia who had been imprisoned for peacefully protesting, was released from prison due to the international awareness and pressure expressed by thousands of letters from all around the world. Writing a letter to the authorities of your partner team will enable you to show solidarity with people in other countries, who depend on bodies of water, just like you. This approach may have a strong effect on the authorities as it exhibits international awareness of the implementation of the WFD and its status in the region in question.

action buttonTake action! Tool for cross-country authority letters



Warming up: Cross-country solidarity

Take a look at the picture and find your region or river on the map. Discuss with your team members, why this “Europe of rivers” looks different from a “Europe of national states”.


Die Flusseinzugsgebiete Europas


Many of our rivers – such as the Danube, Elbe, and Rhine – flow across national borders; cross-country water solidarity is a way to follow the river. But there is another dimension of cross-country solidarity in water conservation: Our consumption of food and many other products typically depends on water use elsewhere. The Northern European eating a tomato is thereby linked to the Southern European growing the tomato, and to the water this requires (a relation that can be called “virtual trade in water”). Find other examples for this cross-boundary flow of water. If you need some inspiration: The website http://www.waterfootprint.org provides you with interesting information on virtual water and global virtual water flows.

Writing cross-country authority letters
Session I: Get your partner team prepared

Enable your partner-team to successfully write a letter to your authorities by presenting them with your river!

This session can be done within 45 min.

Please download the instructions for session I here:  Instructions Session I (pdf)

Session II: Writing the letter

Before you and your partner team protest for more efforts in the implementation, you should know where the authority responsible for your local river or lake is in the process. Write a letter to directly ask your partner team’s respective local authority where they are in the implementation of the WFD!

This session can be done within 45 min.

Please download the instructions for session II here: Instructions Session II (pdf)

You can find a list of exemplary letters below.

Session III: Evaluating the response or call for help

This session should be done once you have received at least one response either to your letter or to the letter of your partner team. Ideally both authorities will have answered and you can compare their answers.

In the case that you do not receive an answer within two weeks, you can still meet for this session and use it to formulate a call for help, so that other Jump Teams can collaborate and send more letters to the authority.

This session can be done within 45 min.

Please download the instructions for session III here: Instructions Session III (pdf)

Exemplary letters

Send us a copy of your letters, so we can post them here as examples for other teams!

Read here about the letter send by our youth activits to the Prime Minister of Montenegro (article link).






The cross-country letter writing might bring up some challenges you will meet more easily if you collaborate with other teams. This will not only help you to make waves, but will also raise your and/or the other team’s collaboration score.

Translating authority letters:

If you are a native speaker of any other European language, you could additionally give a big contribution to the Big Jump by translating the English letter to the authorities into your native language and forward it to the Big Jump coordinators, so that it can also be posted on the website.

Helping teams to contact their authorities:

If you see that there are still open calls for help on the rubric “We are still eagerly awaiting a response”, you can do a voluntary session to help other teams. These teams have issued a call for help because they did not receive a reply from their authority, or because the situation at their river or lake is especially demanding.

Please download the instructions for the voluntary session here: Pdf Link zum Tool/Modul

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