World Lake Conference (Balatonfuered)

Functional Areas in the EU participated in the World Lake Conference (Balatonfuered)

The 19th World Lake Conference (November 7-9, 2023) took place in Balatonfüred, Hungary and facilitated discussions on lake regions and their specific challenges and development opportunities. This year’s theme was “Beyond Lakes: Connecting Science, Culture and Governance for the Sustainable Use of Lakes”.

Organised by the Lake Balaton Development Council (LBDC), together with the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC), the conference provided a platform for stakeholders to explore key aspects of integrated regional development and interjurisdictional cooperation, as well as protecting water resources and natural assets.

With its historical focus on sustainable lake management, the WLC continues to address contemporary challenges and promote innovative solutions. The biennial event offers a global platform where diverse stakeholders, including academia, government entities, citizens, NGOs, and enterprises, meet to share perspectives and insights on the sustainable governance of lakes and their basins.

The World Lakes Conference also hosted partners from the recently established European Living Lakes Association (ELLA) for the protection and sustainable use and development of lakes and wetlands in Europe (including lake regions from Germany, Estonia, Poland, Spain, and Hungary). At the same time, the Association helps to give a stronger voice to lake regions and mainstream their specific challenges into wider EU policy-making processes. The Association is coordinated by the Global Nature Fund (DE) and was created following a close cooperation between European lake regions within the Global Living Lakes network.

Eva-Viorela Sfârlea (World Bank) held a presentation during the plenary session of the conference, showcasing the importance of the functional approach for natural functional areas and the specific outcomes of the Functional Areas in the EU project for the Lake Balaton Region.

The presentation, titled “Functional Areas in the EU. Insights from Lake Balaton” emphasised the role of the functional approach in tackling challenges in the Lake Balaton Functional Region. Topics included the region’s governance structure, optimising regional transport, developing world-class cycling infrastructure, and the impact of climate change on land surface temperatures around the lake. The insights were grounded in the project deliverables developed for Lake Balaton, offering key takeaways and proposed interventions for the region’s development.

Regional cooperation in water and public safety is another major area of interest for the LBDC. To address this, the project team compiled a list of EU financing sources, recognising the challenge of securing funds for cross-jurisdictional projects. Subjects discussed extended to scaling up urban regeneration projects across the Lake Balaton Functional Region, with an emphasis on participatory approaches. The presentation also explored the opportunity presented by the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) title held by the city of Veszprem for driving integrated territorial development, promoting all-season gastronomic tourism and offered an outlook on the opportunities of the region in the context of demographic decline and ageing in the EU, by offering integrated services targeted at older persons (also referred to as “silver economy”).

The program also featured a detailed presentation of the ESPON Lakes project which also included a Targeted Analysis for Lake Balaton.

The 19th World Lake Conference offered a platform for valuable exchanges, presenting the latest scientific research and innovative solutions applicable in lake regions, and the importance of functional approaches and integrated regional development. The discussions navigated a wide array of topics from governance and policy implications to environmental challenges and successful projects, showcasing the need for coordinated action and a stronger voice for lake regions to ensure their sustainable development.

The Functional Areas in the EU Presentation:

You can access the presentation below:

Insights from Lake Balaton

Functional Areas in the EU presentation at the World Lake Conference in Balaton (Balatonfuered)

Download presentation