Reviewing implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive

The aim of this September 2017 eConference was to gather constructive and practical suggestions from the scientific community for the improved monitoring and management of waters across Europe and ideas for more effective implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), scheduled for review in 2019-20.

Lake image with the word Overview Lake with the word programme lake with the words Organising Committee

It is more than 15 years since the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) was formally adopted. Since then, Europe has changed. New pressures have grown in importance, including climate change and associated flood and drought risks, invasive species and a wide-range of emerging pollutants. At the same time new perspectives on environmental management have developed, including payment for ecosystem services, nature-based solutions and circular economies.

Given these changes in pressures and policy landscapes, this eConference aims to gather scientific opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of current WFD implementation, innovation in monitoring and management and best practice in policy implementation. These opinions will be fed into the consultation process for the review of the WFD.

Agenda and presentations

The eConference had one key theme per day featuring four talks across morning and afternoon sessions, plus panel discussions. Poll questions followed each talk:

  • Tuesday 19th September: Monitoring and assessment systems – The good, the bad and the moderate

Strengths and weaknesses of current assessment systems. Presentation by Martyn Kelly (Bowburn Consultancy, UK) Play icon Poll icon

Innovation in Monitoring - Satellites, citizens and sequences. Presentation by Laurence Carvalho (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK) Play icon Poll icon

Q&A and panel discussion (Day One morning session) Play icon

Tracking progress in a one-out-all-out world. Presentation by Daniel Hering (University of Duisberg-Essen, Germany) Play icon Poll icon

A new biomonitoring approach to optimize mitigation and recovery. Presentation by Annette Baattrup-Pedersen (Aarhus University, Denmark) Play icon Poll icon

Q&A and panel discussion (Day One afternoon session) Play icon

  • Wednesday 20th September: Programmes of Measures – How do we best manage multiple stressors?

Stressors situation in Europe. Presentation by Lidija Globevnik (University of Ljubljiana, Slovenia) Play icon Poll icon

How do we diagnose the cause of degradation under multiple stressors? Presentation by Christian Feld (University of Duisberg-Essen, Germany) Play icon Poll icon

Q&A and panel discussion (Day Two morning session) Play icon

How are multiple stressors managed under water scarcity? The case of the Ebro River. Presentation by Sergi Sabater (University of Girona and ICRA, Spain) Play icon Poll icon

Implementation of Nature-Based Solutions to supply multiple benefits. Presentation by Victor Beumer (Deltares, Netherlands) Play icon Poll icon

Q&A and panel discussion (Day Two afternoon session) Play icon

  • Thursday 21st September: The Policy Mix – How to achieve better integration?

Integrating ecosystem service concepts into River Basin Management. Presentation by Bruna Grizzetti (European Commission Joint Research Centre) Play icon Poll icon

Synergies and conflicts between policies - how do we join up? Presentation by Josselin Rouillard (Ecologic, Germany) Play icon Poll icon

Q&A and panel discussion (Day Three morning session) Play icon

Joining up water and agricultural policy. Presentation by Sindre Langaas (NIVA, Norway) Play icon Poll icon

Legal issues for policy integration. Presentation by Sarah Hendry (University of Dundee, UK) Play icon Poll icon

Q&A and panel discussion (Day Three afternoon session) Play icon

Keynote speakers involved in water resources science and river-basin management practice addressed the themes during the meeting. The eConference format included live plenary presentations followed by a panel discussion, which you can view with the links above, as well as open online submission of questions to the speakers and panellists. Following this, conference attendees were invited to complete an online questionnaire on options of improvements in WFD implementation. Tweets about the event used the hashtag #WFDeconf and can be viewed on the WFDeconf Storify.

A synthesis of the eConference will be written up as a manuscript and as a summary policy brief.

Conference Organising Committee

  • Laurence Carvalho (NERC CEH, UK)
  • Ellie Mackay (NERC CEH, UK)
  • Anne Lyche Solheim (NIVA, Norway)

The eConference was hosted by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and organised by the MARS project (Managing Aquatic ecosystems and water Resources under multiple Stress) funded under the 7th EU Framework Programme.

Additional information

CEH news story: How can we enhance water management in Europe?