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Water 2016, 8(4), 156; doi:10.3390/w8040156

Transforming European Water Governance? Participation and River Basin Management under the EU Water Framework Directive in 13 Member States

1
Research Group on Governance, Participation and Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg 21335, Germany
2
Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK
3
Social, Economic and Geographic Sciences Group, James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, Scotland, UK
4
Applied Systems Thinking in Practice Research Group, Engineering & Innovation Department, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
5
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute for Energy and Climate Research—Systems Analyses and Technology Evaluation, Jülich 52425, Germany
6
Geographisches Institut, Universität Bonn, Bonn 53113, Germany
7
Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Vienna 1150, Austria
8
School of Geography and water@leeds, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
9
DelPar Environment, Linköping 58752, Sweden
10
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg 21335, Germany
11
Centre for Climate and Safety, Karlstad University, Karlstad 651 88, Sweden
12
Departamento de Geografía Humana, Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla 41004, Spain
13
Fachgebiet Siedlungswasserwirtschaft, TU Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern 67663, Germany
14
Faculty of Management, Science and Technology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen 6419 AT, The Netherlands
15
Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands
16
School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, University of Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
17
UNESCO Institute for Water Education, Delft 2611 AX, The Netherlands
18
Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, NL A2H 5G4, Canada
19
ONEMA, French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments, Vincennes 94300, France
20
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
21
Instituto de Ecología, A.C.—INECOL, Xalapa Enríquez, Ver. 91070, Mexico
22
Institute of Sociology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan 61-712, Poland
23
Institut de Govern i Polítiques Públiques, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
24
Finnish Environment Institute, Environmental Policy Centre, P.O. Box 140, 00251 Helsinki, Finland
25
IEEP, Institute for Economic and Environmental Policy, Univerzita Jana Evangelisty Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem, Ústí nad Labem-město 400 96, Czech Republic
26
SenF–Serious Fiction-www.seriousfiction.nl, Wageningen 6703 AP, The Netherlands
27
Flow-ing, Montferrier sur Lez 34980, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Giacomo Zanni, Davide Viaggi and Meri Raggi
Received: 19 January 2016 / Revised: 30 March 2016 / Accepted: 12 April 2016 / Published: 19 April 2016
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Abstract

The European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires EU member states to produce and implement river basin management plans, which are to be designed and updated via participatory processes that inform, consult with, and actively involve all interested stakeholders. The assumption of the European Commission is that stakeholder participation, and institutional adaptation and procedural innovation to facilitate it, are essential to the effectiveness of river basin planning and, ultimately, the environmental impact of the Directive. We analyzed official documents and the WFD literature to compare implementation of the Directive in EU member states in the initial WFD planning phase (2000–2009). Examining the development of participatory approaches to river basin management planning, we consider the extent of transformation in EU water governance over the period. Employing a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach, we map the implementation “trajectories” of 13 member states, and then provide a detailed examination of shifts in river basin planning and participation in four member states (Germany, Sweden, Poland and France) to illustrate the diversity of institutional approaches observed. We identify a general tendency towards increased, yet circumscribed, stakeholder participation in river basin management in the member states examined, alongside clear continuities in terms of their respective pre-WFD institutional and procedural arrangements. Overall, the WFD has driven a highly uneven shift to river basin-level planning among the member states, and instigated a range of efforts to institutionalize stakeholder involvement—often through the establishment of advisory groups to bring organized stakeholders into the planning process. View Full-Text
Keywords: river basin management; participation; stakeholder engagement; integrated water resources management; institutional adaptation; mandated participatory planning river basin management; participation; stakeholder engagement; integrated water resources management; institutional adaptation; mandated participatory planning
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Jager, N.W.; Challies, E.; Kochskämper, E.; Newig, J.; Benson, D.; Blackstock, K.; Collins, K.; Ernst, A.; Evers, M.; Feichtinger, J.; Fritsch, O.; Gooch, G.; Grund, W.; Hedelin, B.; Hernández-Mora, N.; Hüesker, F.; Huitema, D.; Irvine, K.; Klinke, A.; Lange, L.; Loupsans, D.; Lubell, M.; Maganda, C.; Matczak, P.; Parés, M.; Saarikoski, H.; Slavíková, L.; van der Arend, S.; von Korff, Y. Transforming European Water Governance? Participation and River Basin Management under the EU Water Framework Directive in 13 Member States. Water 2016, 8, 156.

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