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Title: Improving the application of the Integrated River Basin Management paradigm in the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive
Author: Giakoumis, Theodoros
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 5323
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2019
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The European Union's (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) was adopted to succeed and replace traditional management practices and is widely accepted as the most substantial piece of European environmental legislation to date. Despite some good progress in its implementation, 47% of EU surface waters haven't reached good ecological status in 2015, a central objective of the Directive. Policy analysis of the Directive's interpretation and application by Member States, demonstrated the absence of the paradigm shift towards the systems thinking, as a fundamental problem with its implementation. This was also evident in cases where the Directive had been criticised as a policy tool indicating misunderstandings even of its core principles. Reviewing the transition of EU water policies towards the WFD revealed that different interpretations on the Directive's objectives and exemptions had been left unresolved since its negotiation, ambiguity and compromises observed by its Common Implementation Strategy and lack of real support for the policy shift required, to have all been barriers to the harmonised transposition of the Integrated River Basin Management paradigm, the key to delivering good ecological status. A study of the implementation efforts of the five case study basins of the EU project GLOBAQUA further supported this. Analysis at one of these case studies, investigated whether the way the measures were developed could have limited their potential to deliver WFD objectives and showed that measures were designed to target element classifications, rather than to manage catchment pressures. Incorporating Ecosystem Services as indicators of impacts, a participatory framework for pressure prioritisation was developed that could support the development of measures and stakeholder acceptance and commitment to policy decisions. Overall, the research undertaken demonstrated the need to return to the initial aspirations of the WFD, revisit the concepts it embraced and explore ways to operationalise them if to deliver environmental improvements.
Supervisor: Voulvoulis, Nick Sponsor: European Community
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral