Abstract: Report from workshop in Greece to explore discrepancies between different groups of stakeholders regarding their perceptions of the policy implementation issues and the underlying factors that explain these differences
The Louros, located in the region of Epirus in north western Greece, is a river of great significance at both local and national level due to its multiple uses and environmental value. It has been seriously affected as a result of pressures mainly from farming activities and population settlements. Although there is a lack of systematic environmental monitoring of the water quality and quantity,research shows that the Louros is one of the most polluted rivers in Epirus. The response to date has been very poor in terms of the application of the Water Framework Directive, not only in the Louros catchment, but across the whole of Greece. This has resulted in a dearth of monitoring data to support the adoption of modern management plans.
Task 2 of work-package (WP) 1.3 of REFRESH project focuses on barriers to policy implementation in terms of managing freshwaters. Following a workshop held in the Dee catchment in Scotland (Deliverable 1.14), a workshop was held in the Louros municipality to discuss with major stakeholders what helps or hinders the uptake of measures to protect the Louros River. This report summarizes the findings of the workshop emphasizing the barriers to implementing measures to improve water quality and quantity. Conclusions from the two workshops will be used to test and revise the conceptual model developed to explain behaviours towards the adoption of environmental measures.
Overall, those engaged in activities affecting the Louros catchment are aware of, and have an opinion on, what actions could help and what practices could harm the local water environment. However, in their attempts to change practices and adopt pro-environmental behaviour they face considerable obstacles and constraints. Shortages in key business resources such as labour, human capital and financial capital appear to be of great significance, with financial constraints playing a decisive role in the (non)uptake of environmental actions. Non-beneficial market prices for specific products and inadequate or poorly designed incentive schemes also act as a deterrent in changing behaviour and practices. Most importantly, limitations and weaknesses of an institutional nature result in considerable deficiencies in monitoring and auditing mechanisms making compliance with existing policies difficult or unfeasible.
With regard to future prospects, serious concerns were expressed regarding decreasing water availability in the Louros catchment due to climate change. In general, the predictions were pessimistic based on considerable doubts on the preparedness, capacity and willingness to effectively deal with future changes in an environmentally friendly way. In this context, dealing with the aforementioned issues becomes even more crucial requiring urgent action and joint efforts by low- and high level stakeholders.
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