CADWAGO-related trajectories: past, present and future
Chris Blackmore is one of the Open University team in the UK. Her roles on CADWAGO are to make contributions to the Governance learning (WP4) and Systemic governance practices (WP3) work packages and the UK case study.
“In my WP4 role I am keen for this blog to help us share a little of our CADWAGO-related trajectories (past, present and future) so to that end want to mention a couple of recent experiences I found particularly interesting.
The first was taking part in preparing a response to the UK Environment Agency’s document – Water for life and livelihoods: Challenges and choices, which is the second of three consultations in updating statutory documents related to the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) (revised river basin management plans) that will “set objectives for every body of water in England and outline actions required from businesses, developers, local partnerships, water users, researchers and public bodies”. Further details, including all the responses to the consultation can be found here.
Making this response was suggested at CADWAGO’s first governance learning event by one of our co-learning group. Together we identified a small group of people interested in systemic approaches to water management and governance at catchment level and worked together as ‘the Catchment Systems Group’ mainly online (using skype and email) to draft this response.
In our response to ‘Challenges and Choices’ we called for an adaptive approach that took a more systemic perspective on water management issues. We noted that the document paid little attention to river basin governance and made a series of recommendations that included: stronger institutional mechanisms to be created to connect catchment-scale groups and initiatives to the WFD river basin planning process; ‘joined-up’ institutional and governance innovation at different levels; multi-level planning that includes listening to groups choosing to work at lower levels (sub-catchments and water bodies); clarification of what issues should be directed to the Water Framework Directive and what aspects need to be linked to other initiatives; more emphasis on monitoring and evaluation of catchment management and governance as social processes and not just reliance on monitoring of the water and biophysical environment and a stronger national vision with a set of regional visions for catchment and river basin management.
As an individual I really welcomed the chance to hear a range of perspectives on how the approach could be improved and what taking a systemic perspective meant to us in practice. We talked through a range of examples, some included in our response. For me, addressing the tensions among different national and local levels in practical terms stood out as a particular challenge.
The second event that I found of interest in the context of CADWAGO, was a visit I was lucky enough to make on 17th September to the Cheviot Futures project that is working with the rural communities of the Cheviots and the Tweed catchment on the borders between England and Scotland (for further details see here). Project Co-ordinator Jennifer Hewitson and Project Officer Tracy Hall organised an event that included a series of site visits to on-going practical demonstration projects. Cheviot Future is a partnership project that includes the Northumberland National Park authority, Environment Agency and the Tweed Forum. It’s a particularly wild and beautiful part of the UK (speaking as someone who lived nearby as a child!) and I really enjoyed the sharing of experiences and perspectives as we went around. I found it to be one of the best ‘learning events’ that I have taken part in for a long time. With its focus on water catchment level planning, resiliences and climate adaptation I think there is a lot in Cheviot Futures work that is of mutual interest with CADWAGO.”