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HARMONICOP Informe resumido

Project ID: EVK1-CT-2002-00120
Financiado con arreglo a: FP5-EESD
País: Spain

Final scientific report on public participation as a means to promote social learning in river basin management planning

The overall goal of WP6 final report was to link the theoretical developments provided by an original analytical framework on social learning provided by the HarmoniCOP project with the empirical material obtained from the case studies. The aim being at gaining a set of relevant insights which could be relevant both for science and for policy (and not only for science or for policy).

The structure of the report is as follows:
- An analysis of the meaning, insights and relevance of the approach of social learning in RBMP as provided by the HarmoniCOP project: The goal was to assess how PP processes involved in RBMP can contribute to social learning and how the social learning perspective can contribute to a better framing and understanding of PP processes within the WFD. In that report, the notion of social learning was understood from a broad macrosocial perspective, that is, considering the interplay of multi-level social institutions examining not only the local scales, but also taking into account social learning processes occurring at society at large both within and between social networks of action.

- A synthetic review of European case studies: aimed at linking the theoretical framework of social learning with the empirical experiences gathered both in the national case studies and at a river basin scale. In this regard, the role of Information and Communication Tools are analysed with some detail. This section provides an examination of the main mechanisms, which foster or constrain social learning within RBMP.

- An assessment of the HarmoniCOP results and its contribution to scientific theory, methodological innovation and policy integration: from the analysis of the theoretical contribution and from the lessons learnt from the case studies, that section analysed in a relational way to which extent the HarmoniCOP project has contributed to a better understanding of to the theory and methodological innovation within the field of social learning, and to the science for policy to support the implementation of the WFD..

- Key issues on PP, social learning and sustainability: A further theoretical analysis is provided with regard to the following aspects:
-- The role of culture and of the different cultures of participation in the social learning processes, and which concern the implementation of the WFD at RB scale;
-- An analysis of the possibilities and constraints of institutionalising new forms of polycentric learning for integrated RBMP; and
-- An examination of the actual contents of social learning in the integrated management of water resources, and in particular by looking at whether what is learnt can be assessed upon sustainability criteria, hence as to be considered as a truly sustainability learning development.

- Conclusion: It argued that some of the most important constraint to social learning, and the potential to overcome such constraint lays in unveiling and questioning the cultural conceptualisation of information, knowledge and natural systems, which affect the current assessment and management processes within environmental policy. This is a structural constraint, which depends on the existing public education systems, although it can be influenced at river basin scale.
WP6 report tried to illustrate and examine the state of the art of the approach of social learning in RBMP and to provide some new directions for future research within this field. The notion of sustainability learning was used as an heuristic yardstick to assess to which extent the processes stimulated by the implementation of the WFD are provoking changes not only on the quality of the natural systems but also on the social and economic organisation upon the sustainability of such natural resources depends on.

In short, the report contains a large number of concrete results of scientific and policy-oriented nature. A recurrent issue when dealing with PP processes in natural resource management is that of costs.

However, further research should be carried out to reframe the issue of PP as a public investment, as adequate public intervention can save large sums of financial and human resources derived from ill-defined assessments and wrong management steaming from lack of transparency or lack of plural knowledge integration.

More specifically, the report argues that social learning depends on developing strategies for investment in public education. If that is the case, then, the principle of cost recovery of investments in water treatment facilities, which is contained in the WFD, can be or should also be extended to the cost recovery of investment in PP and education, albeit with its own criteria, time frames and quantification of cost and benefits. Such results are expected to frame both ongoing EU research projects and also support actions on several EU river basin management plans.

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David SAURI, (Professor)
Tel.: +34-93-5812974
Fax: +34-93-5813331
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