The role of public participation and stakeholder dialogue in water management
Healthy water ecosystems can only be secured through a wide participatory dialogue of all stakeholders and the public involved.
The Water Framework Directive (WFD) Article 14 explicitly requires public participation (PP) as part of the implementation process. This requirement provides a powerful tool to engage in dialogue with stakeholders across all policy areas.
Unfortunately, in the first round of River Basin Management Plans (RBMP), this public participation tool was made use of only in some river basins. Often the PP-process was delayed or restricted to the minimum requirement of simply making the draft RBMP publicly available, while the possibility of including other stakeholders in the whole planning process was taken advantage of only rarely (COM 2012).
However, the first round of river basin planning was also a learning process in which many new, possible coordination structures were discovered and established. This new knowledge can be used to lead the way into the second and third round of RBMPs, which urgently need to see early and intense integration of sustainable water management and good status objectives into the implementation of agricultural, energy and transport management.
The proposed project should rectify/falsify and provide evidence of the draft hypothesis: 'Better public participation leads to better plans and to better implementation of plans. Effective public participation and cooperation between different stakeholders leads to better implementation of measures’.
The project is going to underpin this rationale in close coordination with a complementary task conducted by the European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine waters (ETC/ICM). In the beginning of 2013, the ETC will work on the basic background and outline of the project, developing criteria and basic questions to analyse the plans and a proposal of possible good cases.
On this basis, the project should conduct an analysis of selected case studies, interviews and a more thorough analysis of the processes, outcomes, advantages, and problems in the public participation and stakeholder dialogue in some pre-selected specific River Basin Districts (RBD).