Multi-Actor Platforms in the Water–Agriculture Nexus: Synergies and Long-Term Meaningful Engagement
Multi-Actor Platforms—Added Benefits?
2. Conceptual Approach
2.1. Meaningful Engagement
2.2. Pressure for Change
2.3. MAPs and Social Networks
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Data Collection
3.2. Case Studies
4.1. MAPs at an Initial Stage of Establishment
4.2. MAPs Representing Ongoing Multi-Actor Engagements
4.3. MAPs with a Long History of Engagement
Meaningful Engagement Strategies and Social Network Factors Promoting Long-Term Multi-Actor Engagement
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Country||Case Study Context||History of Engagement|
|Pressure: Drinking water comes from groundwaters, which are vulnerable to pollution from nitrate and pesticides. Measures are implemented by voluntary agreements with farmers since 1998 including compensation. Farmers are required to implement measures according to actions plans; expropriation can be used. |
Status: Drinking water quality is at risk.
|A “groundwater board (Grundvandsradet)” including 20 members that represent agriculture, environment, nature, forest, groundwater, etc. has been maintained by the municipality since 2011. This water cooperation is responsible for negotiation of agreements with farmers.|
|Pressure: Pesticide and molluscicide use lead to contamination of surface water, along with a lack of water treatment options. Measures include a knowledge exchange campaign. In a vulnerable catchment, there is also a campaign on product substitution, including financial incentives. |
Status: Drinking water quality is at risk.
|Since 2015, the Anglian Water (private water supply company) catchment adviser has adopted a catchment-based approach through knowledge transfer/exchange to farmers and the wider industry, as well as product substitution. Farmers rely on advisers and government campaigns, as “catchment-sensitive farming”.|
|Pressure: There is farm manure surplus in a region within the state. Drinking water is mainly sourced from groundwater wells. |
Measures include fertilization law, farm manure application techniques, discussions on inter-regional manure transport, and manure treatment.
Status: Water quality is at risk in manure surplus regions.
|Round table discussions initiated by municipalities on nutrient management and water protection have been organized in districts since 2017. Chairpersons are farmer representatives; participants are both agricultural and environmental representatives and local and regional authorities.|
|Pressure: Dairy farming causes nitrate and pesticide leaching toward groundwaters. Drinking water is sourced from groundwater wells. Measures include reducing nitrate and pesticide by better nutrient management and targeted pesticide use. |
Status: Shallow groundwater nitrate standards are not met.
|The province and the water company Vitens initiated the “Farmers for Drinking Water” project in 2011; as part of this, farmers have been invited to regional meetings to facilitate implementation of measures. The water company contributes with agricultural advice, agricultural accounting, regional rural development, etc.|
|Pressure: Pesticides from agriculture and urban areas threaten the groundwater in several areas. Measures include the prevention of pesticides in rural and urban areas, and water purification measures. |
Status: Drinking water quality is at risk.
|The province, water company, and the water boards initiated an engagement project in 2012. The agricultural organization contributes by facilitating communication to their members and links to agricultural education.|
|Pressure: There is runoff from agriculture and forestry, with a focus on pesticide use and impact on drinking water quality. Drinking water is sourced from surface water. Measures include a water utility-led land incentive scheme to improve drinking water. |
Status: A final tranche of measures were implemented, and monitoring is continuing. Drinking water quality is at risk.
|The national-level Water Catchment Partnership has involved the national government and NGOs with an interest in water management existed since 2013. A “Source to Tap” project in the Derg catchment was led by NI Water (Northern Irish water utilities) working with stakeholders to deliver a land incentive scheme to improve drinking water quality.|
|Pressure: Nutrients from agriculture and sewage from dispersed settlement posed a high risk to surface water quality in early 2000. Lake Vansjø is a drinking water source. Measures include intensive monitoring, with a focus on all contributors, as well as tailored agreements with individual farmers for environmental practices. |
Status: Water quality has improved but is still at risk in certain areas.
|There has been a long history of actor collaboration in the area since the 1970s. The Morsa project was established in 1999 to improve poor water quality, engaging local and national politicians. Forms of collaboration among inhabitants, farmers, and local, regional, and sectoral authorities have been ongoing, although collaboration has primarily been between authorities at different levels and municipalities.|
|Pressure: There is an excess of nutrients caused by fertilizers such as manure and wastewater sludge. Drinking water is sourced from groundwater. Measures include national legislation and policy. |
Status: Some drinking water sources exceed nitrate standards and other limits of pollutants coming from agriculture.
|There has been previous engagement with individual farmers in projects. There has been no previous multi-actor engagement platform in the catchment involving authorities, water company, and farmers.|
|Pressure: Agriculture impacts water quality. Drinking water is sourced from groundwater. Measures include a water protection zone, while water companies mix water from shallow and deep wells to reach an acceptable quality. |
Status: Abstracted water in the lower parts of a shallow aquifer is polluted with nitrate (>50 mg/L).
|There has been previous engagement with individual farmers in projects. There has been no previous multi-actor engagement platform in the catchment involving authorities, water company, and farmers.|
|MAP Characteristics||MAP Development:|
Strategy, Achievements, Learning Points, and Risks Challenging Long Term Engagement
|MAP Establishment and Stakeholders||Aim and MAP Mandate||Shared Understanding of the Problem||Synergies Associated with MAP||Economic Resources Available for MAP|
|Denmark, Aalborg municipality||MAP initiated in 2017 including the water works, the municipality, farmers, farmer advisory org., Agri-Nord, SEGES. Facilitation: The waterworks, municipality.||Aim: Improve collaboration and contribute to common understanding of the pressures and processes. Mandate: Project supported by the municipality and the waterworks.||No shared understanding of the need for additional groundwater protection between the farmers and the Water Collaboration Aalborg.||Low level of synergies associated with the MAP. Farmers received some economic compensation from implementing measures.||Economic resources available for compensating farmers when they implement measures.||Strategy: Separate meetings were conducted with farmers and other actors to understand perspectives and to find a common space for dialogue. Achievements: Common platform for communication enabled in 2021. Learning points: Agronomic advice being individual and free of charge for farmers; transparent approach; compensation should be indemnified and fair. Risk: Conflicts.|
|England, Anglian region||MAPs initiated in 2017 with Anglian Water (AW), ADAS, Environment agency, farmers, agronomists, agricultural industry. Facilitation: Univ. of Lincoln, AW, catchment advisor.||Aim: Develop bottom-up approaches to farmer engagement to meet their and the water company’s needs. Mandate: MAP to be facilitated by the AW catchment adviser for continued engagement.||Initially different understanding of what is the problem of focus, the farmers focus on their problem with weeds, while the water company focus on water quality.||A focus on solutions affecting farmers, AW was able to develop a greater presence in the catchment. This created farm trials and projects of high synergy to both parties as they had been co-developed.||External funding was generated to develop MAP activities. In kind provided by AW, otherwise no resources.|
Continuation will be through AW catchment advisor.
|Strategy: Focus on farmers’ challenges. Field demonstrations; expertise in both farming and environmental protection. Achievements: Common knowledge-base, shared understanding, networks for continued engagement. Learning points: Understand farmers’ issues for meaningful engagement; priorities of water companies may differ from farmers’ – work to solve farmers’ issues first to gain trust. Risk: Lack of funds for long-term continuation.|
|Germany, Lower Saxony||MAP initiated in 2017–including representatives of district authorities for water and agriculture and local advisory services. Facilitation: A farmer representative is the chairperson.||Aim: Discuss viable compromise how farm manure surplus in the northwest by transfer to the southeast could work. Mandate: Support by municipalities and the federal state, no mandate to formally agree on measures.||Shared understanding on the need to reduce diffuse nitrate pollution from agriculture. Not all actors agree on inter-regional manure transport to reduce environmental pressure in the northwest.||High synergy level as all actors are very interested in the topic.||No formal legitimization of the MAP - hence there is no continuous external funding.||Strategy: Trust-building factors, official and informal meetings. Achievements: Varying perception of the success -some see the MAP as an information source, but not solving the actual issues. Learning points: Transfer of knowledge is ranked as the most important trust-building factor; increased farmer participation give legitimacy to the MAPs being achievements; need to tailor to particularities in the different districts. Risks: Weak mandate and lack of funds.|
|Netherlands, Overijssel province||MAP initiated in 2011. Farmers, agricultural contractors, municipalities, water company. Facilitation: The province and the water company Vitens.||Aim: Platform to discuss current situation, agree on measures and evaluate the implementation of these measures. Mandate: Provided by province and water company.||Broad consensus on the need to improve groundwater quality (lower nitrate levels) by improving the efficiency of the use of nutrients through a mutual gain approach.||MAP represents a network of people; Farmers use MAP to also discuss other issues and potential solutions such as the drought-issue.||Funds for the MAP and associated activities are provided on a continuous basis by the province and the water company.||Strategy: Creating a network for knowledge exchange. Individual advise on farm management in combination with economic impact. Achievements: Exchange of knowledge; new insights by actors; a trust-building platform between farmers, the province and the water company; Learning points: voluntary approach and measures may not be enough to meet the water quality standards. Risk: Continuity dependent on budget provided by actors.|
|Netherlands, Noord-Brabant province||Ongoing MAP initiated in 2011 includes: water boards, water company, agricultural org., local and regional authorities, farmers. Facilitation: Water company and agricultural organization.||Aim: Reduce pesticide in surface and ground waters. Mandate: Provided by the water company, provincial authorities and water boards to discuss measures and solutions.||Common understanding on the need to reduce pesticide use, and/or use pesticides “responsibly” to improve drinking water quality.||Access to advice and demonstration of new measures; insights into the complexity of pesticide regulations.||Funds have been available by means of a joint collaboration between water boards and the water company; agricultural organization contributes with in-kind resources.||Strategy: Building trust over time, collaboration to find solutions, include a variety of relevant local actors.|
Achievements: Reduced pesticide use possible for certain crops; MAP serves as basis for sharing perspectives and decision-making. Learning points: visualization of environmental impact important; trust-building involves mutual understanding among actors. Risk: Continuity of MAP depends on available resources and voluntary engagement.
|Northern Ireland, Derg catchment||MAP initiated in 2017 builds on the Source to Tap project team and the Water Catchment Partnership, AFBI, Irish water, Northern Irish Water, Ulster University, Rivers Trust, East border regions.||Aim: Protection of drinking water by addressing pesticide use; comply with regulations on pesticide use. Mandate: By national, regional, local authorities, associated with requirements of the WFD, the ND and DWD.||Shared understanding of need to protect drinking water by reducing pesticide use. Also emphasized need for awareness raising at the national level and at the local level - communicate impact on their drinking water.||Access to information on best practice on sustainable land management or nutrients management and the MAP contribute to community engagement/involvement and raise awareness.||Resources available through projects Source to Tap, SCAMP and through NIWater. Insufficient funds for measures, slow implementation.||Strategy: Build relationships between partners; monitoring and evaluation of a farmer incentive scheme.|
Achievements: Increased knowledge and awareness, understanding of farmer’s perspectives, relationship between water company and landowners, reduced pesticide levels. Learning points: Patience needed to see results, building trust takes time, information need to be targeted. Risks: Possible lack of funding, changing national policies; change of staff to less dedicated staff.
|Norway, Vansjø/Morsa||The MAP established in 1999, incl. municipalities, political representation, a secretariat, water company, working groups, representatives from NGOs incl. farmers. Facilitation: Secretariat.||Aim: Improve the water quality and environment of the catchment. Mandate: By catchment municipalities, national authorities. Associated with implementation of the WFD.||A common understanding and awareness of problems achieved in the MAP – associated with monitoring efforts over decades. Some differences in political priorities at different governance levels.||Knowledge exchange and possibility to influence discussions.||Financial resources available from municipalities, from national and regional authorities for organization. ASlso for measures since 1999.||Strategy: Involvement by means of four thematic working groups (sewage, agriculture, environmental monitoring and the coastal area). Achievements: Proven and efficient|
measures that show results. Learning points: Political representation, a secretariat and thematic groups are cited as key elements to achievements. Risk: Few risks challenging long term engagement.
|Portugal, Baixo Mondego||MAP established in 2018 including national, basin and regional authorities, farmers’ associations and farmers. Facilitation:|
Researchers familiar with actors in the region.
|Aim: Platform for exchange of information between farmers and the public, for dissemination and transfer of knowledge.|
Mandate: Informal, by national, regional authorities, farmer association.
|Shared understanding that aquifers have too much nitrate. Varying perspectives of purpose of MAP, some on practices for improved water quality, others on economic performance of agriculture.||Synergies in learning, but otherwise low levels –experienced as a concern for continued activity. Limited extent able to influence the priorities of the map.||Increased knowledge of farm management and current agricultural practices in the area.||Strategy: Contribute with increased knowledge-base, solving differences by means of open dialogue and informal meetings. Achievements: More interaction between actors; better understanding of other points of view - only partly regarding agriculture practices. Learning points: Changing practices takes time and depend on technology, funding, increased knowledge. Risk: Lack of funding and common goal a challenge for MAP continuation.|
|Slovenia, Dravsko Polje||MAP established in 2018 with ministries, drinking water company, agricultural comp., agri. advisors, municipalities, farmers. Facilitation: Project researchers and local agriculture advisory service.||Aim: Solve problems of farming in the water protection buffer zones.|
Mandate: Given by the presence of authorities, but no real mandate to implement changes.
|The actors reflect different goals: farmers/agri. comp./advisers – proper financial support or new land; water companies – less emissions, trust with farmers; municipalities - clean drinking water; Ministries – measures agreed with farmers, trust.||Outside of the MAP - low level of synergy about MAP future. The MAP reported contributing to improved synergy. Synergies could be improved if ministries would recognize local MAP as partner in communicating local issues.||Increased knowledge of farm management and current agricultural practices, regarding measures and subsidies. The MAP could become part of agri. adviser public service paid by Ministry for agriculture.||Strategy: Meetings for knowledge exchange and to discuss focus and priority of MAP. Achievements: Better communication between stakeholders, address a common issue. Learning points: MAP discussions need to be considered by decision makers; formal meetings are taken more serious by actors. Risk: Politicized issues, poor cooperation between gov. agencies and ministries, insufficient emphasis on the need for solving the problem.|
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Nesheim, I.; Sundnes, F.; Enge, C.; Graversgaard, M.; van den Brink, C.; Farrow, L.; Glavan, M.; Hansen, B.; Leitão, I.A.; Rowbottom, J.; et al. Multi-Actor Platforms in the Water–Agriculture Nexus: Synergies and Long-Term Meaningful Engagement. Water 2021, 13, 3204. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223204
Nesheim I, Sundnes F, Enge C, Graversgaard M, van den Brink C, Farrow L, Glavan M, Hansen B, Leitão IA, Rowbottom J, et al. Multi-Actor Platforms in the Water–Agriculture Nexus: Synergies and Long-Term Meaningful Engagement. Water. 2021; 13(22):3204. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223204Chicago/Turabian Style
Nesheim, Ingrid, Frode Sundnes, Caroline Enge, Morten Graversgaard, Cors van den Brink, Luke Farrow, Matjaž Glavan, Birgitte Hansen, Inês A. Leitão, Jenny Rowbottom, and et al. 2021. "Multi-Actor Platforms in the Water–Agriculture Nexus: Synergies and Long-Term Meaningful Engagement" Water 13, no. 22: 3204. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13223204