Main authors: Janja Rudolf, Špela Železnikar, Matjaž Glavan, Andrej Udovč, Sindre Langaas, Marina Pintar
FAIRWAYiS Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: »Rudolf, J. et al. (2021) Actor's feedback on practices for improvement of water quality in FAIRWAY case studies and interim project results. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 7.2R 74 pp


In this section of FAIRWAYiS we summarise the feedback from three surveys in which we consulted different groups of actors on the evidence-based practices and the usefulness of FAIRWAY's interim results. Different actors' typologies are well represented.

The number of completed questionnaires Multi-Actor Platforms (MAPs) was high: 46 of questionnaires were returned from 10 MAPs, representing Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia. Only Norway was missing.

We cover all aspects of policy making:

  1. functioning of the MAPs (»Actors' feedback on practices for the improvement of water quality in case studies),
  2. key EU representatives for water policy regulations and protection (»Actors' feedback on practices for water quality improvement in interim project results), and
  3. an EU land managers (»Actor's feedback on the potential of evidence-based practicves for water quality improvement from EU land managers).

In the surveys we included all different stakeholders’ groups that are included in FAIRWAY.

  • Each of the MAPs supplied at least 4 questionnaires, from 4 different stakeholder groups. The stakeholder groups that corresponded were: farmers, advisory, policy makers, water policy implementation, retail, regional management and water company. Some of them also came from case studies (Denmark, Germany, Slovenia).
  • The key EU representatives were selected by their field of expertise in water policy regulations/protection and the Pesticides and Nitrate Directives of EU or field of involvement in protection/pollution of EU water resources or integrated life within water protection areas. They came from many stakeholders’ groups but had same purpose, to protect drinking water resources. An incomplete DELPHI method was applied to "evaluate possible correlations between the EU and local level, on barriers and issues in providing integrated scientific support for policy regulations related to drinking water resource protection against diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides from agriculture.
  • The EU land managers, were asked to follow the identification of best options of evidence-based practices. An online survey to a much wider group of actors was sent, to all farmers’ organizations that signed a Letter of Support with the Fairway project (COPA-COGECA members, EUFRAS association etc.). All potentially better options of evidence-based practices were included in the survey and respondents were asked to rank/prioritize the most effective options of evidence based practises for them.

All these stakeholder groups can be involved in policy making and they are the linkage between science and policy.

Feedback from MAPs

The contribution from the MAP members is clear. The average Likert scale was always higher than 60 % for different issues that EU representatives recognised as necessary for the protection of drinking water resources. This means that MAPs recognise that these issues are also important in their local environment. However, specific issues are considered as not essential or not evenly important between MAPs nor stakeholders (fragmented data). The agreeability among all MAPs was highest for the solution "stronger involvement of actors in the science-policy interface". Stronger involvement corresponds with a reflection on science integration into policy, where MAPs recognise that it is good that member states have a voice in solving problems on a local level and that Multi-Actor Platforms are the right way to engage stakeholders closely. The data also suggests that MAPs should be included in the policy making cycle on local level because they can have quite different perspectives on issues that has to be considered. There is no unified opinion among them.

Feedback from EU representatives

The national dimension of the science-policy interface is not yet considered, but this aspect is relevant, especially for implementation purposes, as national research agencies could support competent authorities in implementing the relevant European legislation at local scale e.g., as providers of specific training to farmers or farmers advise. In the future we shall indicate how different actors might help overcome the barriers.

Many useful communication channels were reviewed by the EU representatives. Strategies to overcome observed weaknesses in communication style are introduced. Of course the channels through which material is published is important, otherwise it can go unnoticed. Equally important is the usage of proper communication style, both in written and verbal communication activities. Policy makers prefer written material in a form that could be distributed and understand quickly among fellow members. Scientists have to understand that and properly adjust key messages for targed audience.

The suggestions for the improvement of more efficient project dissemination followed through to EU were presented, weighted and commented on. What is important is to take all the necessary actions to ensure that the findings of the project do inform practices in MAPs and boost innovation. Therefore, besides the means (one- vs. two-way communication tools), we would recommend flagging up the outcomes presented.

We should also try to engage directly with policymakers and key stakeholders for the benefit of how to better communicate science. The best ways of communication and dissemination of the final results of the project are:

  1. executive summaries of deliverables,
  2. conference/workshops,
  3. articles in scientific journals and
  4. YouTube videos.

Scientists need to combine knowledge of best communication channels and good strategies in communication style to distribute project's findings to relevant decision-making actors. These findings can serve for further development of dissemination products in order to help distribute the findings of the project to the respondents within the most effective communication channel and to effectively use the right communication style to improve on informing politicians and other policymakers on how to make decisions.

Feedback from EU land managers

Finding the best options of evidence-based practices regarding their applicability, cost and adoptability, has showed that there are some potential win-win solutions for all stakeholders involved. For pesticides regulation good potentials are showing the practices:

  1. Bio beds/filters and/or
  2. Constructed wetland.

And for nitrates regulation good potentials are showing the practices:

  1. Changes in the application method,
  2. Grassed waterways and/or
  3. Changes in cropping system and crop rotation.

This work is further developed in other sections of FAIRWAYiS. Measures and practices for water quality improvement that have best potential in their applicability, cost and adoptability in the field by different actors involved in water quality disturbance are described in »Recommendation for the most promising activities, policies and tools. Policies and tools and communication channels and style to distribute project's findings to relevant decision-making actors are investigated in »Synthesis of the iterative process of knowledge and practice exchange.


Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see

» References

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