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FP5

HARMONICOP Report Summary

Project ID: EVK1-CT-2002-00120
Funded under: FP5-EESD
Country: Netherlands

Report on public participation and the water framework directive: A framework of analysis

This report is the inception report of the HarmoniCOP project. The project aims to increase the understanding of participatory river basin management against the background of the European Water Framework Directive.

Its specific objectives are:
- To prepare a Handbook on PP methodologies;
- To provide insight into social learning in a multi-phase multi-level context;
- To increase the understanding of the role of information and IC- tools (Information and Communication Technology) in PP;
- To compare and assess national PP experiences and their backgrounds;
- To involve governments and stakeholder groups.

This inception report spells out our approach to PP and explores the main issues to be addressed in the project. The purpose of this is to facilitate feedback from the different governments and stakeholder groups in an early phase of the project and to improve our plans for research.

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most important water directive of recent years. It requires Member States to manage their basins as a whole and reach a good water status for all their waters by 2015. The backbone of the WFD is a system of river basin management planning. Three times in the planning process the public has to be consulted. In addition, the Member States have to encourage the active involvement of all interested parties.

To support the implementation of the PP provisions of the WFD a guidance document has been written under the responsibility of the European Commission and the Member States. However, more and different forms of PP may be needed.

The most important effect of public participation is social learning. Social learning could be described as learning by groups to handle issues in which all group members have a stake such as the management of a river basin. HarmoniCOP will develop this notion further.

A literature review will be made and methodological support will be offered to the teams that will conduct case studies in the HarmoniCOP project and to others. Information and IC- tools play a very important role in participatory river basin management.

River basin management can only be truly participatory if the models and information tools that are used to support and legitimise the management are developed in a participatory fashion. Moreover, IC- tools can support participatory processes. IC- tools can help to disseminate information, obtain information for water management and support discussions.

The present and future Member States of the EU have different histories, geographical and hydrological conditions, cultural backgrounds and levels of economic development. Consequently, they also have different PP traditions and preferences. Within the HarmoniCOP project the different national traditions and their backgrounds will be described and compared.

This will facilitate cross-country learning and support the organisation of PP in trans-national basins. Case studies and experiments will play a central role in the HarmoniCOP project. On the one hand, they are a means to try out and test the ideas developed in the more theoretical work packages.

On the other hand, they are also a means to promote in practice what we study: social learning in river basin management. The HarmoniCOP project will result in a Handbook on PP methodologies to promote social learning in river basin management in the context of the WFD.

The Handbook will complement the existing Guidance Document on Public Participation. Already at this moment all potential users can express their needs and wishes and give comments and suggestion at the HarmoniCOP website . The inception report has been discussed in March 2003 at the international stakeholder meeting in Leuven with representatives from national ministries, the Environment Agency of England and Wales, an irrigation association, the Global Water Partnership, an environmental NGO, a Water Utility and a Farmers Association and is available for all at the HarmoniCOP website.

Related information

Contact

Erik MOSTERT, (Managing Director RBA)
Tel.: +31-152787800
Fax: +31-152785559
E-mail
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