Water publications round-up: policy, attitudes, communities and catchments
In World Water Week, we look at recent sustainable development publications on water, highlighted by our partner, the Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN). For more news on sustainable development research and publications, join the network and receive regular SDRN mailings.
In this round-up:
- Water Policy Fitness Check (IEEP report)
- Attitudes to water services in a changing climate (OFWAT report)
- A community approach to catchment management (Relu Policy and Practice Note)
Read about more recent publications and research in the latest SDRN bulletin…
The future of Europe’s water is under the spotlight leading up to the expected agreement on a new comprehensive Blueprint in 2012.
As part of the preparation for this, the European Commission is undertaking a Fitness Check to assess the effectiveness of existing laws and identify possible gaps or inconsistencies that need to be dealt with. The first phase of this assessment has just been completed with the help of the consultancy Deloitte and the Institute for European Environment Policy (IEEP).
The report suggests that the policy laid out in the Water Framework Directive is robust and largely coherent with other EU environmental laws. However, implementation remains challenging and makes the achievement of the 2015 targets uncertain. The EU needs to step up action on policy integration, particularly with regard to using water in agriculture and buildings more efficiently. Member States have made only sluggish progress with introducing economic instruments such as water pricing, while the principle of cost-recovery remains controversial.
The water industry regulator, OFWAT, has published research into water consumers’ attitudes to water and sewerage services in the context of a changing climate.
In particular, the research explored: consumer attitudes to service and price in relation to the challenge of climate change over the long term; and appetites for using water more efficiently and managing water entering the sewers.
The findings indicate that participants: accept that collectively we need to respond to changing weather patterns and reduce greenhouse gas emissions – irrespective of the cause of climate change; would prefer to pay a little bit more in their water and sewerage bills now (for climate-change-related investment), in order to avoid paying a lot more in future; thought metering was the fairest form of charging, but had no interest in ‘green tariffs’; and are not prepared to accept a reduced level of service in the future (as a result of climate change). However, they were open to changing their own behaviour to help maintain levels of service and keep bill increases as small as possible.
Involving the public in environmental management is high on the political agenda. This policy and practice note summarises the key findings from a Rural Economy and Land Use Programmen (Relu) project which has explored how such involvement might be achieved in the Loweswater Catchment in Cumbria.
The research was designed to create and support a new process to enable residents, land owners, institutions and scientists to work together to make decisions that affect the water quality of the lake. The note considers the problems that have affected water quality in Loweswater, highlights how residents and other stakeholders came together with scientists to form ‘The Loweswater Care Project’, how this worked in practice, the benefits derived from this type of collaborative approach, and distils the key messages for policy-makers.
The Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN) is an initiative funded by both Defra and the Department for Transport, and is coordinated by the Policy Studies Institute in London.
SDRN aims to facilitate and strengthen the links between providers of research and policymakers across government, in order to improve evidence-based policymaking to deliver the UK government’s objectives for sustainable development.
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