Deliverable 6.8

Abstract: Workshop proceedings on collaborative scoping of solutions, Vansjø-Hobøl catchment, Norway

This report comprises part of the output from REFRESH WP6, Task 6.3 (Scoping the solutions). It corresponds to Deliverable 6.8: Workshop proceedings on collaborative scoping of solutions, Vansjø-Hobøl Catchment, Norway.

In the Vansjø-Hobøl (Morsa) catchment, solutions for improving the water quality have been discussed and assessed for many years, and several different measures have been implemented over the course of the last decade. Inviting stakeholders to further discuss these issues was considered to be counter-productive. This conclusion was reached in cooperation with key stakeholders, such as the Morsa River Basin District Organisation.

Thus, the main topic of the Morsa workshop was to discuss changing the water level regulations of the lake; an issue that has been debated for many years. Influential stakeholder groups have held diverse opinions on this issue, identifying different needs and a thorough discussion of this topic was therefore deemed highly relevant, both for the managers and for the project.

The workshop was held in cooperation with the Morsa River Basin District Organisation. A key objective was to ensure that all relevant stakeholders were invited, and that they were able to express their needs and concerns freely. An adapted version of the so-called Building Block Method was used for this purpose, and proved to be successful.

Altogether 26 stakeholder participants attended the workshop. The main outcome was a recommendation for a new regulation scheme for the lake. The main elements of this in comparison with the former scheme were that i) a steady water flow from the lake during summer should be ensured, ii) water levels during winter should be reduced, and iii) the maximum permitted water level should be reduced. At a hearing meeting in August 2011 most participants indicated that, although they would have liked to see small adjustments according to their particular interests, they were, in general, satisfied with the outcome, not least since they realised that there were many other interests to consider.

With regard to stakeholder engagement in general, several lessons emerge from this process. It is clear that stakeholders can be encouraged to attend such workshops when the topic is of personal interest to them as long as relatively few similar meetings on the same topic have been held. This is supported by the fact that significantly fewer stakeholders attended a subsequent hearing meeting in August than the discussion meeting in March. The workshop in March functioned well, not least because the participants were divided into groups and given clear instructions both before and during the workshop as to the expected outcome from the group-works. It also appears to have been important that some general workshop rules were set, (e.g. that no participant could criticize any other participant’s needs) and that the groups were led by ‘neutral’ persons with no vested interests. Thorough preparations before the workshop were necessary, including briefing of group leaders, sending out easily understandable information to participants, and preparing introduction speeches. Although not done in this instance, it was felt that written evaluation forms of the workshop would have provided useful information as to how the organisation of such events could be improved in the future.

This is a publically available deliverable. The target audience includes members of the REFRESH consortium, stakeholders in the Vansjø-Hobøl (Morsa) catchment, scientists and managers interested in adaptation measures for freshwaters and, more broadly, those involved in engagement activities between scientists, managers, land owners etc. with freshwater interests.

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