Abstract: Report on scenarios and storylines workshop to present the outputs of Task 2 to the key national stakeholders responsible for implementing the WFD and HD policies for the eight demonstration catchments
This document is the result of a workshop where policy-makers and scientists discussed future challenges to WFD implementation in Europe. The aim of the meeting was fourfold: (1) to develop links between scientists and policy-makers from across Europe, (2) to elicit ideas about how to develop science-policy links in future, (3) to introduce REFRESH and its scenarios to policy-makers, and discuss future challenges to managing the water environment, (4) to scope ideas about how to address those challenges (including information needs). Participants were regulators and policy-makers from six countries within Europe, together with REFRESH experts in scenario generation and modelling. Evaluation forms suggest that participants generally enjoyed meeting each other, learning about REFRESH and discussing future challenges.
This discussion at the meeting focused firstly on the future changes and challenges to WFD implementation. Although climate change was unanimously agreed to be a key challenge (particularly due to extreme events), not all challenges arose from environmental change. Changes in other policies and societal changes could also influence WFD implementation. For example, a drive to reduce carbon emission by using hydropower could negatively affect water body classification. Compared to trends in environmental change policy changes were considered to be relatively unpredictable.
It is important to note that not all changes are necessarily negative for the environment – for example, an increased shift to partnership working was seen as beneficial for encouraging the implementation of measures. Other changes can have positive or negative effects depending on how they are handled – for example, the effect of policy promoting bio-fuel crops could depend on the detail within that policy. This emphasises the need to assess impacts on a wide range of ecosystem services, the impact on different users, and to link with other policy sectors, both environmental and non-environmental (particularly energy and agriculture).
Four common issues were selected as the basis for discussion on how to tackle future challenges to WFD implementation i) how to tackle the common pressure of diffuse pollution, ii) how to link policies, iii) how to ‘do’ partnership working and iv) how to handle uncertainty. Several overlapping strategies were proposed. Flexibility in management was desired, to allow adaptive management (learning from experience) and to allow trade-offs when other policies had conflicting objectives. Using the lens of ecosystem services may help to manage tradeoffs for multiple benefits. At the ‘ground level’ partnership working was seen as key for delivering measures, but only when solutions were truly co-constructed and when local-level stakeholders were properly resourced and supported by national or regional agencies. There are a number of uncertainties in management, while science may be able to reduce some, uncertainty cannot always be removed. Considering worst case scenarios may help to decide how to ‘future proof’ policies against the worst of future changes. This is important, since at present, worries about the future are not yet leading to many concrete actions that allow ‘future proofing’.
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