Title: Protecting and restoring Europe’s waters: an analysis of the future development needs of the Water Framework Directive
Authors: CARVALHO LAURENCEMACKAY ELEONORDE JESUS CARDOSO ANABAATTRUP-PEDERSEN ANNETTEBIRK SEBASTIANBLACKSTOCK KIRSTYBORICS GABORBORJA ANGELFELD CHRISTIANFERREIRA TERESAGLOBEVNIK LIDIJAGRIZZETTI BRUNAHENDRY SARAHHERING DANIELKELLY MARTYNLANGAAS SINDREMEISSNER KRISTIANPANAGOPOULOS YIANNISPENNING ELLISROUILLARD JOSSELINSABATER SSCHMEDTJE URSULASPEARS BRYAN M.VENOHR MARKUSVAN DE BUND WOUTERSOLHEIM A.-L.
Citation: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT vol. 658 p. 1228-1238
Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC113116
ISSN: 0048-9697 (online)
URI: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896971835126X?via%3Dihub
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC113116
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.255
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The Water Framework Directive is a pioneering and ambitious piece of legislation that aims to protect and enhance the status of aquatic ecosystems and promote sustainable water use across Europe. There is growing concern that the objective of good status, or higher, in all EU waters by 2027 is a long way from being achieved in many countries and that delays in implementing management measures need acknowledging and require new approaches for co-development of solutions. Since it was formally adopted in 2000, new pressures have been recognised, new perspectives on environmental management have been developed and more recently the UN Sustainable Development Goals have been established highlighting the need for more integration of water policy objectives with other objectives such as food and energy security. Through questionnaire analysis of almost 100 scientific, water management and WFD policy experts, we consider recommendations for WFD monitoring and assessment systems, improving programmes of measures for managing water resources and further integration with other sectoral policies, in particular agriculture. Our analysis highlights that there is great potential and support to enhance, and make more cost-effective, monitoring schemes through strategic design of monitoring networks and appropriate application of new approaches, such as earth observation and eDNA. Given the “one-out-all-out principle” used in overall status assessment, it is important that improvements in monitored elements and their progression towards good status are communicated independently to highlight successes. One of the reasons for limited progress is that aquatic ecosystems in many parts of Europe are impacted by complex interactions between multiple pressures and expert judgement is often used to make decisions on management measures. New diagnostic tools that use existing WFD monitoring data but incorporate novel statistical and trait-based approaches could be used more widely to diagnose the cause of deterioration and deliver a hierarchy of solutions for more evidence-driven decisions in river basin management. There is a growing recognition that measures undertaken in river basin management should also deliver multiple benefits across sectors, such as soil protection on agricultural land or reduced flood risk. There is a clear need to work with stakeholders to deliver robust demonstration studies that evaluate the wider benefits (ecosystem services) of achieving the WFD good status target and acknowledge the existence of trade-offs. Given huge imbalances in funding between land and water management, continued efforts in ‘mainstreaming’ water policy into other policy sectors is clearly needed to deliver wider success with WFD goals, particularly with agricultural policy. Programmes such as the Baltic Deal demonstrate that co-developed frameworks such as innovation in precision farming combined with best agricultural practices can provide win-wins. Other key policy areas where a need for stronger integration with water policy was recognised included urban planning (and waste water treatment), flooding, climate and energy (hydropower). Our analysis suggests this is not a policy design problem. Having a deadline for attaining the policy objective of good status, or higher, is important, but even more essential is to have a permanent framework for river basin management, to ensure that good status is maintained and emerging pressures are addressed. This requires a long-term perspective, certainly far beyond the current deadline of 2027.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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