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Bright spots for local WFD implementation through collaboration with nature conservation authorities?

Nadine Jenny Shirin Schröder
Research Group Governance and Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany; nadine.schroeder@stud.leuphana.de

Jens Newig
Research Group Governance and Sustainability, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Lüneburg, Germany; newig@uni.leuphana.de

Nigel Watson
Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom; n.watson1@lancaster.ac.uk

ABSTRACT: Twenty years after the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) came into force, much remains to be done by member states in order to achieve the Directive’s ambitious aims. In Germany, far fewer measures have been realised or even planned that are needed for the achievement of WFD goals. There are, however, a number of local cases across the country where WFD measures are being realised. A key question can thus be asked as to what are the key characteristics of WFD processes and arrangements in those 'bright spots'? In order to answer this question, we investigated pathways of local WFD implementation in six federal states of Germany; we used data from semi-structured interviews with WFD-related actors at all administrative levels; we also used participatory observation as well as analyses of policy documents and official websites. Our cases are local-level actors realising measures related to hydromorphology and connectivity. Although local actors face common barriers, some have progressed with implementation of WFD measures while others have not. We found that our bright spots of WFD implementation are characterised by the presence of highly dedicated individuals and, often, collaboration between the WFD and nature conservation authorities, although we found the relationship between the two actors was ambivalent. Such collaboration provided those realising WFD measures with access to the instruments of nature conservation law. Although the WFD prescribes sectoral integration, such cooperation did not evolve everywhere; among our cases, collaborating actors showed low independence, meaning no or only few alternative means to cope with implementation barriers, and physical proximity between WFD actors and nature conservation authorities. Finally, we explored the opportunities for, and constraints on, transferring this collaborative approach to other situations where WFD implementation continues to stagnate.

KEYWORDS: Water Framework Directive implementation, nature conservation, water governance, cooperation, polycentricity, Germany