Making water policy work

Ten ideas to improve and reinvigorate UK water policy post-Brexit.

UK water management is characterised by a complex, multi-tiered system of governance, comprising a plethora of institutions and interest groups; these extend from the EU and UK governments, down to grassroots organisations, with numerous stakeholders in between.

Recent events, such as the 2016 Brexit vote, which threatens many existing water-related regulatory and institutional arrangements, raise questions about the efficacy and resilience of the current governance system.

A team of academics, comprising the Environmental Change Institute’s Prof John Boardman, and led by Oxford alumna Dr Lisa Robins (MSc Environmental Change & Management ‘94-95) of the Australia National University, explore these issues in an article recently published in Environmental Science and Policy. The paper – Making water policy work in the United Kingdom: A case study of practical approaches to strengthening complex, multi-tiered systems of water governance – examines UK water governance in the face of emerging challenges, outlining 10 ideas to realise transformative change in the UK’s water resource planning and management post-Brexit.

These are:

  1. Put in place a system-wide water policy;
  2. Fully embrace community-led nested river basin planning and management;
  3. Properly fund river basin planning and management;
  4. Re-focus the policy framing;
  5. Use best-available data and information;
  6. Create conversational spaces and become a more water-literate society;
  7. Mobilise people;
  8. Support and sustain core community networks;
  9. Underpin river basin plans with regulatory provisions and effective monitoring and enforcement;
  10. Address systemic institutional amnesia.

To find out more about the research and its recommendations click here.

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