DEFINING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES WITH LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS THROUGH PARTICIPATIVE WORKSHOPS

Water management is everything but an exact science. Although water management calls for biology, geology, chemistry, etc... its management is transdisciplinary, it is a social science and it is about making choices, built on values and best available information; but never on absolute “truth”. This approach is always a challenge to communicate to most engineers and adept of the so-called exact science. A participative approach to elicit stakeholders’ opinions and value is crucial in integrated water management and especially for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Stakeholder workshops enable to elicit perceived values, to validate assumption, to contextualise research and confront theory and methodology with stakeholders’ reality.

The objective was to define with local stakeholders, relevant ecosystem services (ESs) for each case study area and to down-scale the scenario “Myopic” and “Sustainable” to local situation. This task included the preparation of an elicitation stakeholder workshop during 2015/16 in each GLOBAQUA case study (i.e. Evrotas in Greece, Adige in Italy, Sous Massa in Morocco, Ebro in Spain, Anglian in the UK and Sava in Slovenia) in close co-operation between case study leaders and Alterra.

The methodology of the workshop was based on a dynamic sequence of group and individual activities to stimulate reflection and group intelligence. Each workshop started with the project objectives and a short introduction of the concept of ESs to the stakeholders. This activity enabled to start with common definitions and shared understandings. The definition ESs was done by 4 groups of 4-6 stakeholders each. Restitution of ESs by categories (Provisioning, Regulating, Cultural and Supporting) was done in plenary session. The list of ESs that was assessed is the result of the aggregation and discussion of identified ESs per group. This list was processed into a specific questionnaire that was used during the second part of the day. This was a real-time questionnaire definition and implementation activity.

Spider web graphics were developed to illustrate the potential of ESs to contribute to local prosperity in each case study (i.e. in this page, the one referred to Ebro river basin). Colored pick represents how a given ES is perceived to bring respectively economic prosperity, cultural identity, quality of the living environment, biodiversity and social cohesion. The stakeholders were finally asked to give their feedback and opinion about the quality of the workshop. Most participants agreed or strongly agreed with most criteria for evaluation.

In conclusion, the workshops enable to bridge the science policy gap. In the frame of GLOBAQUA we will assess population understanding and perception of water scarcity and programmes of measures aimed at the recovery of ecosystems. This activity is expected to provide unique insight on citizens’ perception on ecosystem services and the Directive.

 

Questions addressed during the workshop

- Which ESs are important in the region?

- Who benefits from ESs provided by the natural environment in the region?

- Which ESs have (more) potential to contribute to local prosperity in the region?

- Which ESs are currently threatened by a decrease in the quality of the natural environment in the region?

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