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BEWATER Report Summary

Project ID: 612385
Funded under: FP7-SIS
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 2 - BEWATER (Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change)

Project Context and Objectives:
Future climate change projections for the Euro-Mediterranean region foresee an increase in water scarcity and droughts, entailing substantial socioeconomic losses and environmental impacts. In this context, sustainable water management strategies, leading to increased resilience of the social-ecological system of a river basin, are needed urgently. In order to maximise their effectiveness, local communities must engage with such strategies and play an active role in their development.
Within this framework, the overall aim of BeWater project is to promote an iterative dialogue and mutual learning collaboration processes between science and society to establish, using a multidisciplinary, bottom-up and participatory approach, plans for sustainable water management and global change adaptation in four Mediterranean River Basins. The specific aim is to contribute to increasing the resilience of social and ecological systems linked to each river basin and to allow a proactive response to emerging global changes and related challenges.
By actively engaging with local communities, BeWater involves society in discussions on current water uses and their related problems, raising public awareness of the importance of sustainable water management, with particular focus on the expected global change impacts at River Basin scale.
In four Case Study River Basins across the Mediterranean, newly developed methodologies integrating physical, ecological, social and management processes are used to develop Water Management Options. These Management Options will be discussed with local communities who will participate in drawing up locally-relevant Adaptation Plans, which may be scaled up to develop guidelines of national and international relevance.
This will be achieved through the following seven specific objectives:
1. To launch an innovative process of societal transition towards a more sustainable, resilient and adaptive river basin management.
2. To develop an innovative, stakeholder-driven method.
3. To promote the transfer of BeWater results into policy.
4. To promote mutual and multi-directional learning among the project partners, entities and actors within and between the river basins and with the broader society.
5. To raise awareness and promote a bottom-up approach within the scientific community for planning and implementation processes.
6. To enhance social participation and build societal resilience.
7. To explore and assess opportunities for Research & Innovation (R&I) collaboration between organisations, universities, SMEs and civil society actors to boost innovation in the water sector.
BeWater aims at truly fostering mutual learning shared processes and joint responsibility to face global change water related challenges among partners, within local societies and among the 4 Mediterranean Case Study River Basins.
Helping society to become co-responsible with policy-making actors and institutions of the design and implementation of policies goes beyond merely informing and consulting, being an opportunity for better responding to society needs.

Project Results:
The BeWater project has made strong progress in its development and was able to produce 4 River Basin Adaptation Plans, one for each case study river basin. The process was intense and fruitful, and allowed to deliver the expected results.
The processes undertaken to advance towards this participatory adaptive water management planning have been concreted so far in:
• Creating a knowledge basis: information was gathered on each basin’s characteristics and dynamics, obtained through a) archives behold by the scientific partners on the basin’s current and future state, b) interviews gathering insights from policy makers, implementers, experts and key actors, as well as c) specific studies compiling best practices on adaptive water management planning and experiences developing water management options.
• Engaging stakeholders: several hundreds of local actors participated in 12 professionally facilitated workshops, three per Case Study River Basin. The first workshop achieved to effectively integrate all relevant stakeholders’ views into future water management challenges and pave the way to develop water management options. The second workshop allowed presenting the 102 options developed and evaluating them in accordance with specific criteria, while the third workshop contributed drafting the River Basin Adaptation Plans, integrating implementation oriented information and enhancing willingness of stakeholders to further pursue its objectives.
• Co-producing Adaptive Water Management Plans: different methodologies were applied to reach specific intermediate results, such as Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping to allow the development of a reference model of the basin’s dynamics, Multi-Criteria Analysis to allow a prioritization of the proposals and the design of implementation pathways in order to envision the best timing and relation between options to enhance their effectiveness. All these methods included active participation of local actors and promoted an integrated view both on challenges and possible solutions.
• Developing a handbook to share lessons learned retrieved during the development of all four local adaptation plans, resulting in clear guidelines which outline the different considerations and steps involved in designing an adaptation plan at river basin level. It has a strong focus on the performance of the participatory BeWater approach and provides a concise synthesis of the BeWater methodology.

• Sharing knowledge and managing the project’s development: 3 internal Consortium participated sessions, with the involvement of partners, Advisory Board members and key stakeholders from the 4 Case Studies, to internally frame and report the implementation of the BeWater approach and to coordinate and fine-tune the development of the tasks ahead.
• Raising Awareness: in the 4 river basin communities a very intense and meaningful interaction with citizens from the local societies allowed to reach a broad target audience. Diverse material (posters, mobile exhibitions) produced in English and the 4 local languages, Arabic, Greek, Slovenian and Catalan, were used for activities at schools, municipalities, natural park facilities, cultural centres,...
• Disseminating the project’s main messages and results both through local media, that broadcasted information related to the project in numerous ways (radio, TV, written press, online and social media), and in relevant fora, such as conferences, master courses and specific events.
• Building the role of Youth as a Stakeholder in the Tunisian Case Study. Different events have taken place, accomplishing the objective of sharing the BeWater experience with young professionals, youth representatives and socio-environmental associations from the Rmel basin.
• EU and AU review and comparative analysis of water sector policies and cross-cutting Policy Sectors analysis on water and climate.
Overall, the project has achieved already its main objectives, being the tasks ahead mostly oriented to consolidate and enhance the acknowledgement of the results by broader citizens, the scientific community and policy actors.

BeWater is recognized and valued by stakeholders and citizens all over the 4 Case Study River Basins in the Mediterranean as providing a real opportunity for knowledge co-production and participatory governance involving: shared learning process among the 4 pilot case studies, active engagement of relevant actors, enhanced societal empowerment, increased transparency of information, enhanced opportunities to influence decision-making, enriched inter-sectoral perspectives to foster real trade-off analysis and problem solving processes.

Potential Impact:
The expected final outcomes of BeWater are classified at three geographical levels:
- At local level
• The identification of the key problems and needs at local level through an open and transparent participatory process.
• Establish the basis for a long-lasting partnership between civil society, scientists, and public administrations (including institutional administration, local government and policy makers and implementers) through workshops, interviews and networks.
• A set of concrete water management options for each river basin system that takes into account the effects of global change.
• An adaptation plan for each river basin system developed through a participatory process. The plan, addressed to the river basin authorities, will outline actions that improve resilience and adaptation to global change scenarios.
• A significant and tangible increase of the river basin systems resilience, measured through indicators.
• Recommendations for the uptake of the adaptation plan into existing legislation, its implementation and via contributions to future policy actions.
• Increase of civil society sense of empowerment, having an active role in policy planning at the level they represent.
- At national level:
• Presentation of the adaptation plan at national policy level in Spain, Slovenia, Cyprus and Tunisia.
• Active engagement in policy advising and communication at a national level by identifying windows of opportunity with relevant policy makers.
• Support the implementation of the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Waters and the Water Joint Programming Initiative at national level by identifying options at this level.
- At European level:
• Development of a framework for sustainable and effective cooperation between science and society for resilient and adaptive management of water resources at the river basin level.
• Development and availability of a process that can be adapted and applied in other Mediterranean river basins: outscaling and transferability of the process of transition.

The River Basin Adaptation Plan development process has proven to be very enriching for local water governance and has engaged stakeholders and local societies in different targeted manners, providing a platform for the dialogue and collaboration with researchers, experts and public authorities. The River Basin Adaptation Plans include a series of water management options which have been closely analysed by key stakeholders, and therefore count on a high degree of social acceptance and the political willingness of those public administrations who participated to transform these ideas into reality in each of the basins.
Local stakeholders expressed the BeWater process and results were extremely interesting and useful for the understanding and elaboration of problem–solving processes to face the impacts of global change at river basin level. In particular, the BeWater results may feed in other processes related to the development of environmental policies, resource management and sectoral development, and therefore strongly contribute to the transition to more resilient territories.

The successful project implementation in these 4 socio-ecological diverse realities and the guidance based on lessons learned that have been developed also prove that BeWater approach can be outscaled and transferred to other Mediterranean river basins and beyond.

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