Title: Working with private sector stakeholders towards Water Framework Directive implementation
Authors: Kathy Hughes, Freshwater Project Manager and Dr Rose O'Neill, Freshwater Programme Manager
Organisation: WWF-UK, Living Planet Centre, Brewery Road, Woking, GU21 4LL
Phone: 07836 244515
Theme: Global Challenges for Water Governance.
Freshwater ecosystems provide a vital service for people, economies and nature. Throughout Europe they are under pressure from over-abstraction, pollution and morphological change. Climate change impacts coupled with population growth and increasing water consumption of water will exasperate existing pressures.
The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) was imposed in 2000 imposing firm timetables for reversing the long-term decline in Europe's freshwater environment. Its headline objective is the achievement of Good Ecological Status (GES) in all waterbodies by 2015. Due to its scope and ambition the WFD is one of the most influential pieces of environmental legislation ever passed. However, across Europe its implementation has been grossly inadequate. In 2012, the European Environment Agency reported 56% of rivers to be below GES.
Starting in July 2014, for three years, WWF-UK is leading the delivery of a new EC LIFE funded project; WaterLIFE. WaterLIFE aims to develop the enabling conditions' (policy, guidance and legislation) needed to support wider delivery of the Water Framework Directive, particularly by supporting authorities through civil society and private sector delivery. Working with the Rivers Trust and Westcountry Rivers Trust, the project will deliver tangible environmental benefits in five demonstration catchments across England and Wales using Water Stewardship mechanisms (corporate businesses) and civil society engagement (local and regional third sector groups). The project also includes a wide European knowledge exchange aspect and it's conclusions will have global significance.
Our presentation will cover one aspect of WaterLIFE; working with private sector businesses towards Water Framework Directive implementation. We will cover the premises of our research, our experience to date and plans going forward within the WaterLIFE project.
WWF believes that private sector engagement on WFD implementation is strongest and most sustainable when implemented through Water Stewardship mechanisms. Our presentation will discuss what WWF sees as the key foundation a Water Stewardship framework, highlighting the differences between Corporate Social Responsibility mechanisms and Water Stewardship mechanisms.
We will illustrate this with our case study which is working to implement Water Framework Directive on the River Nar in Norfolk through our partnership with Coca-Cola. The River Nar catchment is dense in sugar beet production. It is also a chalkstream that is failing to meet Water Framework Directive and other conservation targets. Since 2012, we have delivered a multi-stakeholder catchment approach towards WFD implementation inthe Nar catchment and we have demonstrated increased buy-in with our work with farmers and the community, as well as environmental improvements. We have also begun to test the Water Stewardship hypothesis and have learnings to share about practical implementation. We will follow our presentation with a short discussion of our priorities going forward and open up the discussion to the audience.
Research questions include:
- What level of evidence do you think is needed for corporate businesses such as Coca-Cola to engage on Water Stewardship approaches?
- What should we do when there is no business case to engage with corporate businesses? Is Corporate Social Responsibility a strong enough driver?
- Partnerships take time especially when science, policy and business comes together; how can we understand each other's needs?
- Can approaches such as this be scaled up; what are the barriers?