Public participation and the role of social networks in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Spain
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River basin management plansPublic participationWater managementWater Framework DirectiveNew Water Culture
Hernández-Mora, N. ; Ballester, A. Public participation and the role of social networks in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Spain. En: Ambientalia. 2010-2011. [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/21688]
PatrocinadorFundación Nueva Cultura del Agua. Universidad de Zaragoza.
The Water Framework Directive establishes a common framework for EU water policy. One of its guiding principles is the promotion of public participation in water planning and management. In response to this requirement, River Basin Authorities are undertaking public participation and consultation processes as part of the elaboration of the Draft Basin Management Plans. This article describes and analyzes these processes, placing them in the context of wider public discussions and debates over water policy that have taken place in Spain over the past two decades. The paper argues that some of the strengths of Spanish WFD-related public participation processes derive from the significant improvement in the amount of information made available to the public, and from the relationships that are established between different stakeholder groups and between these and the water administration. On the other hand, the lack of credibility and legitimacy of some processes is related to the lack of political leadership and commitment to public participation, to insufficient inter-administrative cooperation, and to the persistence of parallel channels of communication between traditional water users and water managers. The paper also points to some potential areas of improvement such as the methodological design of public participation processes, a clarification of their impact on specific plans and proposals, and a search for tools to adequately inform and incorporate the wider public in water policy debates. Finally, the paper discusses the role that social networks, built around the ideas and goals of the New Water Culture, are playing in water policy debates by demanding more transparent and sustainable water policy decision making.