The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires to define environmental objectives and set up measures to achieve good status of all waters by 2015. In France, water management is planned at basin-level by state offices and water agencies but measures are implemented by local authorities whose responsibilities are often broader than just water. Thus, water experts have to think outside the water box so that the local authorities make the environmental objectives their own.
To meet these requirements, the i-Five project ("Innovative Instruments and Institutions in Implementing the WFD") was co-financed as an IWRM-Net project by the EU and other partners and launched in 2008.
The project aims to support the implementation of the EU WFD by promoting the transboundary exchange of experiences, by broadening the range of methods and tools available to water managers, and by helping water managers develop the best applicable approach. The i-Five project applies an action research methodology to selected areas.
Three case studies in Germany, France and the Netherlands analyzed the institutional settings and specific innovative instruments and institutions in the context of the WFD implementation. Cemagref and AgroParistech-ENGREF carried out the French case study in the Thau basin, located on the Mediterranean coast, in the Rhone river basin district (South-East France).
The local authority in charge of land-use and water planning (syndicat mixte du bassin de Thau, SMBT) an “animateur” was hired to translate water-related issues to local stakeholders and to foster integration between scales, sectors and participation of different publics. “Animateurs” are positions supported by water agencies in local authorities to make the link between water and territorial management. They have existed in France since 1992.
The specificity of Thau is that water and land-use planning are combined. The Thau basin is a small catchment around a lagoon characterized by fishing and oyster production. Tourism and urban sprawl are strong driving forces along the coastal zone.
The consensus built between land-use planning and water management has given priority to traditional activities in this area, which resulted in restrictions in urban sprawl.
Interaction with stakeholders has played a central role in the i-Five project. These include the authorities responsible for implementing the WFD at the local, grassroots level, as well as other stakeholders involved in the implementation.
The French case study assesses the extent to which animateurs as instrument for integration, public participation and active involvement of local authorities, facilitate the WFD implementation process within the administrative setting and, more in particular, look at their role within the overall horizontal and vertical interaction of decision making.
The following benefits of an animateur for water management can be summarized:
- Increased translation and communication, which may lead to more active support from stakeholders
- More coordination between sectors and possible anticipation.
- Rooting expertise in local knowledge to design more locally adapted measures.
- More commitment of local actors towards water management.
Importance of the case for IWRM
Generating insights on integration, especially between land-use planning and water management and rooting expertise in local knowledge.
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