Catchment News

An Fóram Uisce webinar: CAP reform and water quality

On 4 December 2020, An Fóram Uisce held its first webinar. The webinar discussed Optimising water quality returns from the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and you can watch it now on YouTube.

The webinar started with a presentation from Dr Charles Larkin, from the Institute of Policy research at Bath University, on Optimising Water Quality returns from the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. This paper can be accessed on An Fórum Usice’s website. A discussion paper written by Dr Alec Rolston, An Fórum Uisce’s reseach lead is is also available.

An Fóram Uisce CAP reform and water quality webinar – presentation by Dr Charles Larkin

A panel of experts responded to Dr Larkin’s research which was commissioned by An Fóram Uisce. The panelists shared very interesting and informed perspectives. With unanimous acknowledgement that a one-size-fits-all policy does not work, all panelists recommended that significant flexibility needs to be built into the new CAP Strategic Plan to take adequate account of different landscape types. In order to ensure positive environmental outcomes Pillar 1 payments should aim to be results-based rather than action-based.

While farmers are willing to participate in agri-environment schemes they need to be adequately resourced to do so and the targets need to be observable, measured and verifiable.  It is clear that while it is important to redesign CAP to support pro-environmental behaviours the measures must work for the implementing bodies as well as the farmers.

An Fóram Uisce CAP reform and water quality webinar – panelist responses

The panel discussion was followed by Questions and Answers moderated by Dr Tom Collins, Chair of An Fóram Uisce.

An Fóram Uisce CAP reform and water quality webinar – questions and answers

About the speakers

Charles Larkin is Director of Research at the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath and is also an adjunct assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Public Administration (Dublin). Charles holds non-executive director positions on the governing authority of Technological University Dublin and the Board of Accounting Technicians Ireland. Dr Larkin has authored several items of Irish legislation and over 60 scholarly articles, most especially in the areas of finance, cryptocurrencies and public policy economics.

Alan Matthews is Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College Dublin. He is a former President of the European Association of Agricultural Economics and currently a member of the Irish Climate Change Advisory Council. He blogs on agricultural policy issues at

John Fitzgerald is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University College Dublin, and Chairperson of the Irish Government’s Climate Change Advisory Council. He is a former research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute.

Lee Ann Jackson is the Head of the Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) at the OECD. She joined the OECD in 2020 after 16 years at the WTO where her most recent position was as Counsellor of Food and Agricultural Policy Research in the Economic Research and Statistics Division. Dr Jackson was previously the Secretary to the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture in the Agriculture and Commodities Division.

Michele McCormack joined Teagasc in 2012 and has been working as the Socio-Economic researcher with Teagasc Agricultural Catchments since 2017. Her research interests includes environmental economics, particularly the relationship between agricultural production, farmer behaviour and water quality. Dr McCormack has also worked as an agricultural economist developing measures of total factor productivity at farm level.

Learn more:

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,829 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures that will be implemented after public consultation and sign off by the Minister.