Title: A transdisciplinary approach to the economic analysis of the European Water Framework Directive
Citation: ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS vol. 116 p. 34-45
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC91017
ISSN: 0921-8009
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800915001548
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.03.026
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The Water Framework Directive (WFD) prescribes the use of economic tools and principles so that its ecological targets are achieved in an economically efficient manner. The aim is to establish the least-costly combination of measures to be included in basin management plans. Moreover, the WFD allows the derogation of environmental objectives if meeting them has disproportionately high costs. The application of these principles adds new complexity to the management of water resources, which is recognized to be a ‘wicked problem’. Arguably, the complex and dynamic nature of water problems requires flexible decision-making that embraces a diversity of knowledge types and values. In this research, natural and socio-economic scientists worked together in the development of an integrated approach that is ‘ground-tested’ through local stakeholders’ knowledge and views by means of participatory methods. The two key aims of the methodological approach presented in the paper were: (1) develop a set of steps for implementing this transdisciplinary approach to meeting WFD objectives, and (2) critically reflect on the opportunities and limitations of integrating different strands of knowledge. The approach was tested at the sub-catchment level in Scotland. Hydro-chemical models are used to simulate sub-catchment scale effectiveness of a set of pollution mitigation measures for improving water quality The results from hydro-chemical modelling were incorporated into a cost-optimization model, which allows the selection and ranking of economically-efficient combination of measures. Costs of measures were then compared with benefits resulting from the improvement of water quality. This analysis is accompanied by an iterative local stakeholder consultation process, which shapes the process and offers a way of contrasting scientific findings with local perceptions. The research further analyses whether the selected measures are ‘future-proof’, in view of projected climate and land use change scenarios. Results are used to help set the research agenda for devising a more realistic specification of economically sound and socially acceptable management options to deliver WFD compliance under current and future conditions.
JRC Directorate:Growth and Innovation

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