University of Twente1, University of Manchester2
According to the latest IPCC report, even in North West Europe the balance between water demand and availability could be rapidly under pressure of severe drought periods, but adapting to such changes requires governance contexts that are readying themselves for such extremes. Based on the INTERREG IVB funded DROP project this paper presents an assessment of 2 of the 6 case studies of governance contexts across NWE (North West Europe) to enhance the adaptation and resiliency to drought and water scarcity. This paper will focus on a comparative analysis of the Vilaine catchment in French Brittany, and Somerset, UK.
Methods and Materials
In the Vilaine catchment, the Arzal dam, located downstream in the Vilaine River, is a freshwater reservoir. Initially built in 1970 to protect the inlands against salt water intrusion during spring tides, the water reservoir plays today a central role in providing drinking water for households and the agricultural sector through water level regulations. Next to that, the reservoir is used for recreational purposes, such as sailing and fishing.
The Somerset case study area is a sparsely populated wetland area of central Somerset. It consists of marine clay levels along the coast and often peat based moors inland. The peat soils of the Somerset Levels provide a multiple of ecosystem services including food production, nature, carbon storage and protection of historic environment. These peat soils are vulnerable to sudden and irreversible changes as a direct result of drought and dehydration.
A key method of the DROP project is the Governance Assessment Tool (GAT), which has been developed and adapted to study drought governance and applied in all 6 case studies. It consists of five elements and four criteria where governance is the combination of the relevant multiplicity of responsibilities and resources, instruments and strategies, problem perceptions and goals ambitions, actors and networks, and scales. These factors form a context that, to some degree, restricts and, to some degree, enables actions and interactions. Through a variety of interview questions with a range of relevant regional stakeholders (water managers, water users etc), each of these elements is assessed for its extent, coherence, flexibility and intensity.
Results and Discussion
In the Vilaine, except for emergency measures, there is no global plan set up to manage drought vulnerabilities induced by climate change. The current situation of low drought risk perception, compared to a more significant flood risk perception, is explained by a lack of drought risk awareness, due to the absence of critical drought events in the past years in the region, and the lack of a culture of drought forecasting and risk communication. However, it is expected that as drought perceptions are raised, drought adaptation measures can rapidly be designed and implemented by the efficient, existing water governance for freshwater in the basin, which is supported by a dense stakeholder network driven by IAV (the river water managers - Institution d'AmÃ©nagement de la Vilaine).
In Somerset there is a greater awareness of drought and water scarcity impacts, and after the 2010 -- 2012 floods a flurry of enhanced activity to smooth the process of adaptive measures and plans amongst regional stakeholders. Since the 2013/2014 floods there has been an increased politicisation of the issues of flooding for the region, leaving a residue of risk of maladaptation of measures to deal with climate change as flooding and drought are currently governed in silos. However, approaches such as integrated catchment management that would provide different approaches for the long term mitigation of flood and drought risk may require a substantial change to the problem framing of resilience and adaptation.
Comparison and Conclusion
The GAT -- based on Contextual Interaction Theory -- enables a comparative analysis of key governance factors in these two cases. The governance context influences these processes through its impact on these actor characteristics: the drivers of processes are ultimately people, representing sometimes themselves, but often organizations or groups and themselves driven by their motivations, cognitions and resources.
In the Vilaine, a main issue is that the acceptance of climate change (cognitions) as a reality or at least as a relevant issue for the stakeholders involved is very weak. This is identified as a major problem and a root cause for the low degree of openness towards adaptation (motivation). However, also plain interests play a role in this low motivation of some of the users. With their legal rights (resources) they are also in the position to block the development of the process, at least until a higher level of awareness (cognitions) has been developed.
In contrast, in Somerset there was much more acceptance of climate change and its double effect on water levels (cognitions), with stakeholders engaged in adaptation projects. But already at that time the dependency on external funds (resources) was preventing the climate adaptation measures to be put into practice. Then an external "seismic shock" of the 2013/2014 flooding modified the picture. The politicisation of flooding in the region (including high pressure media exposure) lead to a re-interpretation of water management (cognitions) that was far more one-sided and focused largely on mitigating flood events. Actors that were before prepared to cooperate were suddenly not only aroused (motivation), but also feeling themselves much stronger (resources) in this new constellation.
Recognising the need to address the impact of floods, while still acknowledging that there is also a very real threat for water scarcity in the NWE region, changes the range of strategies and instruments that could be used to effectively mitigate variability and extremes. This more joined up approach of different forms of water management that is needed in these two case study examples draws together a range of lessons more effective governance for climate change adaptation across the whole of NWE; that is governance approaches focused on adaptation and resilience of the whole water system rather than crisis management of extreme events.
Acknowledgments: INTERREG IVB NWE Program; DROP coordination, DROP practice partners and all stakeholders interviewed.
Key-words: drought, governance, climate change, catchment. Bressers H., C. Deboer, M. Lordkipanidze, G. Ã–zerol, J. Vinke-De Kruijf, C. Furusho, I. La Jeunesse, C. Larrue, M.-H. Ramos, E. Kampa, U. Stein, J. TrÃ¶ltzsch, R. Vidaurre, A. Browne, Water Governance Assessment Tool with an Elaboration for Drought Resilience, Version du 25 Mai 2013, 46 p. (2013).