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Dam Removal Award 2023

By December 4, 2023April 17th, 20242 Comments

European Dam Removal Award 2023

Once again, we’re thrilled to present the European Dam Removal Award, celebrating the most inspiring riverine barrier removal projects in 2023. Rivers teeming with fish and thriving communities are close to our hearts, and we can’t wait to hear your story! 

Barrier removal comes in all shapes and sizes, and each one has a remarkable story to tell. We are not looking for the tallest dam or the longest culvert, what truly matters is your project’s journey – how it all started, the driving forces behind it, the challenges you conquered, and, most importantly, the results after the removal. Your unique story is what inspires and makes a difference!

About the award
Dam Removal Europe presents the annual Dam Removal Awards, a ground-breaking event in Europe. We celebrate the most innovative and inspiring river barrier removal projects across the continent. We want to praise dam removal practitioners, river users, communities, and authorities who put their hearts into these projects and enable them to keep up with the good work to restore free-flowing rivers.

The award is hosted by Dam Removal Europe, the World Fish Migration Foundation, the European Investment Bank, the Nature Conservancy, and supported by the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Forest Peace Foundation and ABN AMRO Bank. The most inspiring project will be awarded 15.000 Euro towards the team’s next removal project and handed out a special trophy! 

This year’s award is a celebration of the best dam removal project in Europe from 2023, aimed at acknowledging the achievements of civil society coalitions that have successfully removed barriers. Our purpose is to recognize their remarkable efforts and inspire them to persist in this vital field. So, if you and your partners are proud of your work, let it serve as an inspiration for others to join your footsteps!

Submissions are welcome until February 12th, 2024, and the award winner will be revealed during the upcoming Free Flow Conference in Groningen, The Netherlands.

I want to submit my project
Happy Fish statue in Spain, home of the 2022 Dam Removal Award winner  © AEMS-Ríos con Vida.

How to apply?

To apply for the Dam Removal Europe Award, follow these simple steps: 

  1. Share your remarkable initiative by using our online application form on Zealous. Before you begin, carefully read the general rules and guidelines to ensure your submission is well-prepared. 
  2. We recommend looking at the application form first, which will help you organize your answers and the mandatory uploads. This form will prompt you with questions about the barrier, including its location, use, height, and more. Following these, you’ll find 4 open questions about your project, covering aspects like innovation, challenges faced, impact, and stakeholder involvement. 
  3. Additionally, there are two mandatory uploads: (1) a high-resolution photo of the barrier before removal, (2) a high-resolution photo of the barrier after removal, and one optional upload of (3) a maximum one-minute video briefly explaining the project and telling us why your project should win the award.

Showcase the importance of your dam removal and make a compelling case for why you deserve this award!

The application period is open from December 5, 2023, at 12:00 CET and runs until February 12, 2024, at 12:00 CET. If you encounter trouble submitting the project, please contact Neža Posnjak ( before the nomination deadline stated above. 

Submit to European Dam Removal Award 2023 on Zealous

General rules:

  • Define barrier type: Your project should focus on the removal of a barrier, including dams, weirs, culverts, sluices, or fords. These barriers must have been fully or partially removed to allow fish passage and ecological flow (not including fish passages or bypasses). 
  • Your barrier removal project must have been executed and completed in 2023, including the technical work involved in dam removal. 
  • Each organization or partnership of organizations can submit and be nominated for only one project. 
  • Projects can only be submitted by the primary organisation responsible for the execution of the project. 
  • A single barrier removal project can involve multiple barrier removals completed in 2023. 
  • Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be considered. 
  • By submitting your pictures and videos, you agree to allow Dam Removal Europe to use them in its communication. Ensure that you include any necessary photo credit and copyright information. Videos must be 1 minute long (longer videos won’t be accepted), not recycled from previous submissions and can be in your own language along with English subtitles if necessary. 
  • Award-winning projects from previous years are not eligible for resubmission.  
  • The jury’s decisions are final, and Dam Removal Europe will not discuss or justify the choices of the jury and outside of discovery of disqualifying facts.
  • All submissions must be filed in the English language. 

Please ensure that your application adheres to these guidelines for successful submission to the Dam Removal Europe Award.

Selection process 

All submissions will be checked for compliance with general rules and only complete submissions (including mandatory uploads) will be accepted. The jury will select three projects and nominate them for the award. In March, these nominated projects will be presented to the public to vote for their favourites. The winner will be determined through a combination of the public’s vote and the jury’s evaluation, each bringing half of the final score. The official award ceremony is scheduled for the evening of April 16, 2024, during the Free Flow Conference in the Netherlands, and nominated projects will receive invitations to attend the ceremony. 

Criteria for selection 

  • Significance: We evaluate the relative importance of the project for the river, including the reasons for removal and the rationale behind eliminating the barrier. 
  • Replication Potential: We consider the project’s potential for replication and the degree of stakeholder involvement in the initiative. 
  • Impacts: An assessment is made regarding the ecological, social, economic, and potential climate impacts resulting from the removal. 
  • Experience and Learning: We look at the experience gained, and the learning opportunities created by the project. 
  • Video Statement: An explanatory video detailing why the project should be awarded. 

You will be informed about every step of the process automatically through the award submission platform Zealous. 

Disclaimer: The selection procedure will be carried out by an independent team to prevent potential conflicts of interest. For the Dam Removal Europe partners which are also removing dams themselves, this means that they will not be involved in the pre-selection nor the jury procedure. 

The jury 

The Dam Removal Award jury is international and interdisciplinary. The members are experts in nature conservation, freshwater ecosystems, fish, community innovations and communications. Each of them contributes their unique perspective on barrier removal and river restoration, culminating in a well-balanced and diverse team. 

The award 

The 3 nominated projects will be invited to the Free Flow conference in the Netherlands and each project will receive free admission to the conference (including dinner and field trip) and 4 hotel nights in Groningen for one person. The monetary prize for the most inspiring project is 15.000 Euro, which is to be spent on the winners’ next removal. Besides the cash prize, the winner will be given a special trophy. All nominated projects will be highlighted in Dam Removal Europe communication channels.  

Don’t miss the chance to make a difference! Submissions are open until February 12, 2024 12:00 CET, and remember that each removal is unique and no matter what size it is, it contributes to freeing our rivers. 


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