One of the main drivers for this Conference is the WFD and the development of the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) with the need to having an agreed basis for assessing information required for the correct application of the Directive. Guidance Documents for the Directive will propose detailed approaches in this respect but it will be up to monitoring programmes of Member State Institutes to provide comparable quality data on watersheds and coastal zones in the European Union. The science research community through large national programmes, EU scale activities such as ELOISE, or international programmes such as LOICZ-IGBP can potentially make an important contribution through their decade-long experience in river basin-coastal zone research and the application of know-how, assessment tools and networking facilities to the problem posed by the Directive.

The Conference will focus on Southern European watershed-coastal lagoons as being representative ecosystems which are under great anthropogenic pressure; are of considerable ecological and economical value, and which when studied in a comparative manner, can provide valuable information on functional tendency at local scales (catchment management) but also on long-term trends under the influence of global climatic change. The use of local and national research networks to study their behaviour is proving to be particularly valuable; extension to the east and west Mediterranean basin will be discussed.