The Diplomatic Suitcase

The Diplomatic Suitcase: a travelling exhibition about water representation in europe

How water diplomacy in Europe can give rise to an emerging alliance of water

Born out of growing water challenges and demands for water democracy worldwide, the Confluence of European Water Bodies sprang in 2023 from a collective pursuit of a deeper understanding of rights of nature, and in a broader sense, water representation in Europe.

In September 2023, the water community converged for the first time on the shores of the Mar Menor, the first European ecosystem granted with legal personhood, with the aim to learn and exchange about water activism from a legal and cultural perspective. Resulting from this successful three-day conference, the water community expressed the wish to continue to flow together as a collective of water guardians, aimed at representing water ecosystems in Europe, on a local grassroots level, as well as in international policymaking.

Symbolic, mobile, and tangible representation

The Diplomatic Suitcase is the symbolic, mobile, and tangible representation of the Confluence of European Water Bodies. It is literally a suitcase that unpacks into an exhibition showing the identities of the participating water bodies. This multimedia and portable installation tells stories of the many problems European waters are facing, from contamination by agriculture to dam constructions, but also demonstrates how water diplomacy can give rise to an emerging alliance of water.

The Diplomatic Suitcase can be unpacked, exhibited and activated in various contexts: museums, galleries, embassies etc. The installation includes text panels, a 13-minute film about the Confluence in 2023, soundscapes, photo’s, manifests and various artefacts like, a 1970 bone of a Seahorse from the Mar Menor, a symbolic flower from Venice, a ceramic otolith from the North Sea and a bikini from the Polish River Sisters. All these objects were collected during a ceremony at the Mar Menor.

Activation programme

An important part of the installation is the activation programme. At each venue, a public programme with workshops and fieldtrips will stimulate dialogues with the local water bodies. The Diplomatic Suitcase will grow while welcoming new waters and by traveling to venues all over Europe.

Interested in participating or exhibiting the Diplomatic Suitcase? Please contact us at:

Special thanks to all participating waters

Akerselva (NO), Drina (SRB), Klarälven (SE), Loire (FR), Mar Menor (ES), Mediterranean Sea, Moraca and Tara rivers (ME), North Sea (NL), Ouse (UK), Pek (SRB), Rhône (CH), Senne (BE), Spree (DE), Tejo (PRT), Venice Lagoon (IT), Vistula (PL), Reuss (CH) and Viskan & Lake Vättern (SE)

Concept: Embassy of the North Sea & TBA21-Academy; Co-curation: Confluence of European Water Bodies; Spatial design: Jakob Kukula and Leon Lapa Pereira; Photo’s: Helena Roig Pratt; Video: Clàudia del Barrio Gómez