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Water 2016, 8(4), 156;

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

Research Group on Governance, Participation and Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg 21335, Germany
Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK
Social, Economic and Geographic Sciences Group, James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, Scotland, UK
Applied Systems Thinking in Practice Research Group, Engineering & Innovation Department, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute for Energy and Climate Research—Systems Analyses and Technology Evaluation, Jülich 52425, Germany
Geographisches Institut, Universität Bonn, Bonn 53113, Germany
Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), Vienna 1150, Austria
School of Geography and [email protected], University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
DelPar Environment, Linköping 58752, Sweden
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg 21335, Germany
Centre for Climate and Safety, Karlstad University, Karlstad 651 88, Sweden
Departamento de Geografía Humana, Universidad de Sevilla, Sevilla 41004, Spain
Fachgebiet Siedlungswasserwirtschaft, TU Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern 67663, Germany
Faculty of Management, Science and Technology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen 6419 AT, The Netherlands
Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands
School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, University of Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
UNESCO Institute for Water Education, Delft 2611 AX, The Netherlands
Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, NL A2H 5G4, Canada
ONEMA, French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments, Vincennes 94300, France
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Instituto de Ecología, A.C.—INECOL, Xalapa Enríquez, Ver. 91070, Mexico
Institute of Sociology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan 61-712, Poland
Institut de Govern i Polítiques Públiques, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra 08193, Spain
Finnish Environment Institute, Environmental Policy Centre, P.O. Box 140, 00251 Helsinki, Finland
IEEP, Institute for Economic and Environmental Policy, Univerzita Jana Evangelisty Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem, Ústí nad Labem-město 400 96, Czech Republic
SenF–Serious, Wageningen 6703 AP, The Netherlands
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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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

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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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