Catchment News

Research on Ireland’s water governance arrangements

The EPA has published two EPA Research Reports arising from the EPA-IPA Research Programme on the topic of Ireland’s water governance arrangements.

Research 372: Using the OECD Water Governance Indicator Framework to review the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018–2021

This report assesses water governance in Ireland using the Water Governance Indicator Framework, a tool developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2018 to assist countries in assessing their progress towards the European Union’s Water Framework Directive. The report puts a particular emphasis on informing policy and practice in Ireland with a view to ensuring that governance arrangements are enhanced in the third-cycle River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for Ireland 2022–2027.

In this video Dr Joanna O’Riordan gives a synopsis of EPA Research 372: Using the OECD Water Governance Indicator Framework to Review the Implementation of the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018–2021

Executive Summary:

The OECD Water Governance Indicator Framework was developed in 2018 to support the implementation of the OECD Water Governance Principles. The Water Governance Indicator Framework is conceived as a voluntary, self-assessment tool for examining national water governance policy frameworks. As noted in the introduction to the Water Governance Indicator Framework, its primary objective is to stimulate a transparent, neutral, open, inclusive and forward-looking dialogue across stakeholders on what does and does not work, what should be improved and who can do what. This study finds that the new governance structures put in place under the second-cycle RBMP go a significant way towards achieving the objectives contained in the Water Governance Indicator Framework. There is considerable reassurance for those involved that the structures put in place in Ireland around water governance are appropriate and that there are no significant gaps or omissions. Having said that, there is scope for improvements in Irish water governance arrangements for each of the principles. The key conclusions identified for each principle are set out in this report, with Ireland’s performance in each principle categorised as “strong progress”, “good progress” or “limited progress”.

Link to the Report: https://www.epa.ie/publications/research/water/research-372-using-the-oecd-water-governance-indicator-framework-to-review-the-implementation-of-the-river-basin-management-plan-for-ireland-20182021.php

Authors: Joanna O’Riordan, Richard Boyle, Fergal O’Leary and Laura Shannon

Research 373: Using an experimental governance lens to examine governance of the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018–2021

This report examines lessons learned from the water governance arrangements put in place for the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2018–2021 for Ireland through the lens of experimental governance. The study finds that the three-tier governance structure is appropriate and should be continued. However, there is still room for improvement in the area of adapting and improving the operation of the existing arrangements.

In this video Dr Richard Boyle gives a synopsis of EPA Research 373: Using an Experimental Governance Lens to Examine Governance of the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018–2021

Executive Summary:

This report examines lessons learned from the water governance arrangements put in place for the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2018–2021 for Ireland through the lens of experimental governance. Experimental governance is a phrase coined by academics to describe a system of governance that is open to change based on the practical lessons learned through implementation. It is particularly suited to help address so-called wicked problems, which comprise challenges such as climate change and water management. A particular emphasis is put on informing policy and practice with regard to ensuring that appropriate and effective governance arrangements are made in Ireland for the third-cycle RBMP 2022–2027. The governance system examined is based on a three-tier structure:

  1. a Water Policy Advisory Committee and the Water Forum (An Fóram Uisce) advising the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage;
  2. a layer of technical support provided by the National Coordination and Management Committee, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Technical Implementation Group; and
  3. local authorities, supported by regional committees and a local government shared service, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO), involved in implementation.

The study finds that the three-tier governance structure put in place to support the implementation of the RBMP is appropriate and should be continued. Rather than radical changes to the governance structure for the next RBMP, it is more a case of adapting and improving the operation of the existing arrangements. The three-tier structure represents a significant innovation and improvement over the governance arrangements in place for the first-cycle RBMP. Recommendations for further improvements are made in the report.

Link to the Report:

https://www.epa.ie/publications/research/water/research-373-using-an-experimental-governance-lens-to-examine-governance-of-the-river-basin-management-plan-for-ireland-20182021.php

Authors: Richard Boyle, Joanna O’Riordan, Fergal O’Leary and Laura Shannon

IPA Research Vignette: An Fóram Uisce (The Water Forum) as an example of stakeholder engagement in governance

This report addresses one aspect of stakeholder engagement: how to formally engage stakeholders in policy deliberation and formulation at the national level. The case examined is that of An Fóram Uisce (the Water Forum). The report summarises the findings from a range of interviews carried out in June and July 2020 as part of a wider research study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into water governance arrangements associated with the River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2018–2021 (Boyle et al., 2021). Fifteen of these interviews were carried out with An Fóram Uisce (12 interviews with members and three interviews with the executive), and these provide the main data source for the report.

Link to the report: https://www.ipa.ie/_fileUpload/Documents/EPAIPA%20Water%20Forum%20Report%20Web.pdf

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.

LAWCO

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.

EPA

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.

DECLG

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.