Table 1. Summary of major barriers and bridges to transformation of the Hungarian reaches of the Tisza River Basin (HTRB); not in order of importance or priority.

Barriers arising from the current system Bridges to an Alternative System

Basis: Long Established Paradigm
“Protect Landscape from the River”

Bar 1: Centuries living behind dikes entrenches a defensive mentality based on fear of water.

Bar 2: Sunk costs of massive infrastructure investment over two centuries inhibit any suggestion to modify or remove that infrastructure.

Bar 3: Momentum of national and globally driven development based on conventional paradigms leading to intensification of agricultural practices.

Bar 4: Lack of access to critical new information due to technological sophistication and due to lack of integration across domains of inquiry, i.e., disciplines, practice, i.e., training, and governance, i.e., government jurisdictions

Institutional Inertia

Bar 5: Concentrated lobbying power of prominent actors, i.e., individuals and organizations with ample financial and political capital, overwhelms dispersed and disorganized local farmers and activists.

Bar 6: System self-organizes around reward loops of subsidies and paybacks, which reinforces a tight elite network such that all funding is funneled into their political machines within the present agricultural regime,

Bar 7: Present institutional structures do not permit implementation of complex, integrated programs that still follow administrative and sectoral lines.
Problems of Transition

Bar 8: Failure to reach and keep consensus. Some particular interests and alliances of the subgroups take overall precedence over solutions agreed upon by all parties
Bar 9: The diversity of views, knowledge, and terminology in all the separate formal and informal networks stall initiatives.

Bar 10: Inertia of passive attitudes by local stakeholders sustained in the absence of leadership to build trust and understanding and motivate action across the region.

Bar 11: Huge investment of financial, political, and social resources needed to provide convincing evidence of benefits of alternative river management strategies.

Bar 12: Loss of natural capital, e.g., biodiversity, seed bank, and human capital, e.g., skills, local knowledge, due to death, termination of local practices, and regional emigration increase initial investments needed to re-establish the functional basis of a sustainable social-ecological systems (SES).

Basis: Emerging New Paradigm:
“Live in Harmony with the River”

Bdg 1: More diverse view of options shared by a wider portion of society, including river engineers that we have to learn to live with a naturally flowing river

Bdg 2: Increasing engagement of leaders and concerned citizens in considering and deciding on alternative management ideas

Bdg 3: Shadow network spanning entire TRB functions to generate new visions that influence regional debate.

Bdg 4: Flood, water stagnation, drought, and political crises shift political climate such that a window for alternative solutions appears in public debate.

Bdg 5: Awareness-raising of importance of local culture, markets, regional brands, etc., and individual responsibility in decisions of where and how one lives.

Bdg 6: CAP reform (2nd pillar) promises new system to subsidze ecological farming and land use change and management practices that boost environmental services.

Demonstrations or Experiments

Bdg 7: Innovative traditional and novel ideas show promise to concretely address drought and flood volume management as indicated by integrated basin computer models and pilot projects in western Europe and Hungary.

Bdg 8: Legacy of knowledge and experience in extensive land uses and cultivation practices that provide sustenance in a periodically inundated floodplain.

Bdg 9: Information dissemination by civic groups and individuals, facilitated by the shadow network.

Institutional Change

Bdg 10: EU policies (Natura 2000, WFD, CAP reform) create a supporting reference framework with which to examine and modify river management policy.