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New handbook on participatory adaptation planning

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 Posted in Tordera Society, Spain , BeWater News, Vipava Society, Slovenia , News, Pedieos Society, Cyprus, Rmel Society, Tunisia


Collaboration between science and society has led to the publication of a handbook documenting the participatory approach used in developing adaptive management plans for river basins.

The handbook, a product of three years' collaborative work during the EU-funded BeWater Project, describes the BeWater approach, which brought together experts, practitioners, policy makers and citizens to plan for adaptation to global change in four Mediterranean river basins.

The step-by-step guide facilitates replication and modification of the approach by other basins that wish to undertake a scientific participatory process to increase river basin resilience. The handbook is also intended to support environmental decision-making processes in other fields and sectors.

“Developing participatory adaptation plans for river basins – a handbook” is based on a process developed and tested in four river basins across the Mediterranean to identify the challenges faced by the river basins, the management options that could address them and how these options could be implemented. Within the Tordera (Spain), Pedieos (Cyprus), Rmel (Tunisia) and Vipava (Slovenia) river basins, scientists and local stakeholders engaged in interactive workshops, meetings and interviews over a three-year period, which resulted in the development of a River Basin Adaptation Plan for each basin.

people-workshop-pedieos-300Lessons learned in drafting these plans are synthesised in the handbook, which the authors hope will become an important reference document for other river basins that intend to use a participatory approach to adaptation planning. The handbook contains guidelines on practical and policy considerations, with chapters dedicated to stakeholder selection, participatory development of water management options and analysis of implementation pathways describing barriers and facilitators encountered. Alternative approaches, methodologies and further reading are also included, with the lessons learned framed by an overview on the state of the art in river basin planning and insights from the four case study river basins. 

There is increasing recognition of the value and importance of co-creation in adaptation planning, which combine scientific insights and methods with stakeholder interests and knowledge. Lead author of the handbook, Dr. Ulf Stein, commented, “Society is willing to engage in intense participatory experiences when their involvement in the decision-making process is clear and their role is acknowledged and legitimized.” Key findings from the handbook indicate that participatory adaptation planning for river basins is still a developing concept that would benefit from wider application and subsequent sharing of best practice and experience.

The handbook, and the River Basin Adaptation Plans on which it is based, will be disseminated widely during the final stages of the BeWater project, which ends in March 2017. Key events include the European Policy event (Brussels, Belgium) and the River Basin Adaptation Conference (Nova Gorica, Slovenia), which will share science-society interactions as developed within the BeWater project and other initiatives.

Photo: McKenna Davis-Ecologic

More information: Anabel Sánchez: ; tel: +34 93 581 4675