|Main authors:||Janja Rudolf, Jane Brandt, Gerard Velthof, Mart Ros, Peter Schipper, Yanjiao Mi-Gegotek, Erik van den Berg, Jan-Peter Lesschen|
|FAIRWAYiS Editor:||Jane Brandt|
|Source document:||»Rudolf, J. et al. (2021) Recommendations of the most promising package(s) of measures, policies, governance models and tools at national and EU level. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 7.3 76 pp|
|3. Results and discussion|
In this section of FAIRWAYiS we integrate project's principal results horizontally (i.e. across research theme and case studies) and vertically (i.e. of relevance to different levels or groups of stakeholders), providing a condensed overview of the most important messages or new knowledge derived from the research programme.
An iterative methodology was developed for distilling and synthesising the key messages that involved all the research task and case study leaders. Throughout the process, the original authors, links to research task and case study results and relevant stakeholder groups were all kept track of. In this way it is possible to trace each of the messages back to its original sources. The method involved
- building a longlist of messages from the research themes and case studies
- cross-checking, clustering and refining the messages to a core set of about 20 from which the final key messages were drawn
- directing those key messages to relevant stakeholder groups.
2.1 Building the longlist of project's key messages
Developing the longlist of FAIRWAY's key messages involved all leading partners, lead researchers and case study leaders. The idea was to collect and organize in a table all the most important conclusions of the project’s tasks and deliverables.
The contributions were made not only by thematic work packages, but also by the case studies. We included the view of case studies because it was observed that case studies can have different emphasis when it comes to the question: “What is the most important activity or tool for keeping drinking water resources safe in your area?” The case study view can be more technical and practical than the researchers’ view, and it was important to collect their views too in order to see a bigger picture, combining several perspectives to arrive at the most important activities or policies or tools that can protect drinking water resources for next generations.
Figure 1 shows where there were exchanges of data, information and results between the research themes and the multi-actor platforms (MAPs) and or case studies, as exemplified and reported in the project deliverables. Evidence and results from the case studies are also included in the one-page key message summaries described below.
Figure 1: Links between work packages and case studies/MAPs (as exemplified in the deliverables)
To get insight into how the research results influenced the case studies and how messages from case studies were used in the work within the work packages, we asked separate questions of the work package and case study leaders.
- Work package leaders were asked: “Please define most important key messages that derive from your tasks and link them to deliverables or tasks.”
- The case study leaders were asked: “Please define the key messages that are most important for your case and linked them to the deliverable or task from WP.”
This is how we provided evidence for project’s horizontal contribution to new knowledge. Furthermore, we linked the longlist of key messages to stakeholder group that that they addressed (i.e. EU decision makers or the members of the case study multi-actor platforms (MAPs). The MAPs include different type of actors, such as water boards, farmers, farmers’ organization, NGOs, industry (the actors involved, differ between the case studies). This is how we provided evidence for project’s vertical contribution to the new knowledge.
2.2 Cross-checking, clustering and refining the key messages to a core set
Several cross-checks between the longlist messages were carried out to identify where there was repetition of the context in whole or in part of the message provided. Some were condensed because the list of original was extensive. This procedure resulted in a list of 32 condensed messages, of which 20 were selected to be the most important for both work packages and case studies. The information about the providers of original messages was archived, so the link could be traced between every condensed message and the work package or case study provided the original information. The original authors were again invited to check the message to ensure that the condensed version still reflected the meaning of the original.
2.3 Directing the key message to relevant stakeholder groups
Finally, the authors were asked to provide supporting evidence for each message in a standard, one page format. In this iteration, a few more messages were dropped because they were not chosen by the authors as representing FAIRWAY’s most important, resulting in a final list of 16 key messages.
2.4 Key findings related to FAIRWAY's research objectives
Finally, FAIRWAY had eight research objectives, so an additional eight key findings were distilled for each objective.
3. Results and discussion
3.1 Condensed longlist of key messages
The longlist of messages is included in »Appendix I and II of the full report. Appendix I presents information provided by the work packages and case studies with their links to specific stakeholder groups and source in project deliverables. Several messages that were published in scientific papers are also included. Appendix II presents a longlist of synthesized messages according to their relevance to particular stakeholder groups.
In Table 1 we show the condensed version of that longlist, grouped together by their relevance to specific stakeholder group (decision makers on EU level, MAP or CS). In brackets “()” a linkage to specific work packages and/or case studies that provided specific information is also given. It is from this condensed longlist that the authors of this section of FAIRWAY's selected the 16 key messages.
Table 1: Condensed project’s key messages of FAIRWAY belonging to different research activities of WP2 to WP7
|Condensed longlist of messages||Source WP or CS||Relevant stakeholder groups|
|1||To improve nutrient management at a supra-regional scale, many different actors have to be involved. Practical and effective on-farm measures need to be communicated to policy makers by scientists, land users and other actors to create ownership of the issue and successful implementation||WP2, CS3, CS5||Decision makers at EU level|
|2||Multi-actor platforms at the regional to local level comprising farmers, retailers, water companies, research institutes and authorities effectively contribute to the protection of drinking water quality. MAPs connect the different actors, increase network connections, knowledge transfer, improve dialogue and awareness and decision making in cross-sectoral issues and trigger new developments.||WP2 and 7, CS13, CS3, CS9||Multi-Actor Platforms|
|3||During all phases of Water Safety Planning, engagement of stakeholders in the development of the methodology and content is essential. Establishing cooperation between large and small suppliers contributes to overcoming barriers for effective risk assessment and management for small suppliers.||WP2, CS3||Case studies|
|4||Because building and fostering good relationships and common understanding amongst key actors requires a long-term commitment, ongoing facilitation of and continued financial support for multi-actor engagement platforms is essential for their success.||WP2, WP6, CS10, CS11||Multi-Actor Platforms|
|5||Agricultural nitrogen surplus is the most significant, prevalent, effective and easy to use indicator of nitrate contamination of water. However, a comparison of calculated nitrogen budgets across Europe needs to be interpreted carefully, because methods, data and emission factors vary between countries.||WP3, WP4||Decision makers at EU level|
|6||The time lag between agricultural impact and drinking water quality response is an important indicator to be used in a successful drinking water protection strategy. The time at which effects of measures for drinking water protection are shown in groundwater is dependent on the local hydrogeological conditions and flow paths and vary from several years for shallow groundwater to several decades for deeper groundwater.||WP3||Decision makers at EU level, Case studies|
There is a discrepancy between the type of field- or trial-based measures tested and reported in literature and real world farm-level management options that are used or reported in the case studies.
|WP4||Decision makers at EU level, Multi-actor Platforms|
Reduction of on-site pesticide pollution of drinking water resources demands a combination of: input reduction; farm system redesign; and point source mitigation.
|WP4||Decision makers at EU level, Multi-actor Platforms, Case studies|
|9||Implementation of measures to reduce nitrate losses should not only consider the effectiveness, and costs, but also the likelihood of adoption and possible (unwanted) side-effects such as pollution swapping to emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide and phosphate||WP4, CS4||Decision makers at EU level, Multi-actor Platforms, Case studies|
|10||Key obstacles to exchanging decision support tools between countries include differences in legislation, advisory frameworks, country-specific and statistically sound data, geo-climate and language. Users prefer to either enhance existing tools or develop new region-specific ones, rather than to attempt to modify a decision support tools developed for another country.||WP4, WP5, CS11||Decision makers at EU level|
|11||Support and advice from knowledgeable advisors skilled in communication is highly valuable in guiding the decisions of farmers. There are best practices for implementation of low pesticide use already available which do not negatively affect the crop production.||WP5, WP2, CS2||Case studies|
|12||Decision support tools are helpful in advising farmers of best practice and planning in the application of fertilizers, in order to optimize crop yield and prevent water pollution problems associated with nitrates and nitrogen.||WP5, CS3, CS7, CS11, CS13||Case studies|
|13||Many farm management tools promoting smart nutrient and/or pesticide use are available, but only a few explicitly consider the impact of mitigation methods on water quality.||WP5||Multi-actor Platforms, Case studies|
|14||A novel methodology was to develop to unravel the cascade of governance addressing agricultural pollution of drinking water resources from EU directives to national law and policy to implementation at the local level. The methodology uses a bottom up approach to engage with actors and is helpful in identifying the anomalies between understanding and perceptions of local stakeholders and intentions of the policy makers. The method highlights the potential for core messages to be lost if delivered using a top down approach only. However, although still valuable, the methodology can be subjective and care is needed when making comparison between cascades constructed by different authors.||WP6||Decision makers at EU level|
|15||At local level, land managers and farm decision makers are well aware of many examples of practices that are effective in the context of EU directives including riparian strips and catch crops (Nitrates Directive) and advice, training and testing (Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive)||WP6||Case studies|
|16||A hybrid approach to water quality management is needed that includes i) (discretionary) decentralisation in order to ensure collaboration and engagement of stakeholders at local level and ii) a (mandatory) centralised governance system to enable national standards to be set and enforced.||WP6||Decision makers at EU level, Multi-actor Platforms|
|17||Complexities and inconsistencies in European legislation become most explicit at the local level where cross-sectoral measures have to be taken and effects monitored. A facilitated, cross-sectoral approach to policy application at local level should be adopted to improve stakeholder networks, and between institutional levels and hydrological scales, so that higher effectiveness can be achieved.||WP6||Decision makers at EU level, Multi-actor Platforms|
|18||A mix of mandatory requirements with voluntary uptake and use of subsidies seem to be working in many countries. However, but more research is needed into the potential conflicts and complexity caused by these mixes.||WP6||Decision makers at EU level, Multi-actor Platforms, Case studies|
|19||Barriers to protection of water quality in the EU are mostly observed at the national or regional level. They are perceived to be connected with a lack of political will, scarce instruction on the legislation implementation process, and a lack of funding opportunities for science to be included in policy making and implementation.||WP7||Decision makers at EU level|
|20||There are potential win-win solutions for water quality protection from contamination by pesticides and nitrate residues. Win-wins for pesticide regulation include bio beds/filters and artificial constructed wetlands. Win-wins for nitrate regulation include changes in the application method of manure residue, grassed waterways and changes in cropping system and crop rotation.||WP4, WP7||Decision makers at EU level, Case studies|
This condensed longlist was used to develop the final 16 key messages.
3.2 FAIRWAY's key messages related to promising activities, policies and tools
One further iteration provided what are considered by the FAIRWAY team to be the 16 key messages, most relevant to the main stakeholder groups (Table 2).
Each key message is presented in a standard format, in five sections.
- Key message statement: a concise one or two sentence summary of the message.
- Identification of target audience: which groups of stakeholders are most likely to be interested in the message and why.
- Explanation: the context to which the message is relevant.
- Evidence: summary of FAIRWAY’s results (including evidence from the case studies) from which the message conclusion is drawn, including a photo or figures.
- Further details: links to the full results from which the message is derived on FAIRWAYiS and any relevant publications.
Table 2: FAIRWAY's 16 principle key messages
|No.||Title (with link to full key message documentation)||Key message|
|1||»Multi-actor platforms are important for joint strategy setting, but only one step towards achieving impacts||Multi-actor platforms are valuable in building networks and creating a common understanding about complex issues in the agriculture-water governance interface. While they are important for setting joint strategies, they might not be sufficient to achieve desired impacts.|
|2||»Engagement of stakeholders in Water Safety Planning is essential||During all phases of Water Safety Planning, engagement of stakeholders in the development of the methodology and content is essential. Establishing cooperation between large and small suppliers contributes to overcoming barriers for effective risk assessment and management for small suppliers.|
|3||»Access to consistent databases is necessary for monitoring water quality||Monitoring groundwater quality, detecting pollution sources and evaluating mitigation measures have to be done to ensure a safe, sustainable drinking water supply for citizens. Hence, it is necessary to have access to consistent databases that enable scientists to link pollution and mitigation measures to water quality.|
|4||»Lag times exist between between leaching and aquifer impact||Water and nitrate transfer through geological material is not instantaneous. There is a lag time between agricultural nitrogen leaching from the fields and its impact on water quality in aquifers, and wells. This time lag should be taken into account when developing drinking-water protection strategies.|
|5||»Nitrogen surplus can be an ambiguous indicator||Nitrogen surplus at the farm or regional level is a useful agri-environmental indicator. However, because Member States apply different calculation methods, comparisons at the European level are ambiguous. As calculation data, particularly on farm level, may not sufficiently represent local conditions and activities, the indicator may not fulfil legal certainty.|
|6||»Measures to reduce nitrate losses need real-world validation||For measures to reduce nitrate losses, there is a discrepancy between the type of field- or trial-based measures tested and reported in literature and real-world farm-level management options that are used or reported in the case studies.|
»Measures to reduce nitrate leaching can risk pollution swapping
|Implementation of measures to reduce nitrate losses should consider not only their effectiveness, and costs, but also the likelihood of (unwanted) side-effects such as pollution swapping to emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide and phosphate.|
|8||»Reduction of pesticide pollution demands a combination of actions||Reduction of pesticide pollution of drinking water resources demands a combination of input reduction, farm system redesign and point source mitigation.|
|9||»Decision support tools help optimize yield and prevent pollution||Decision support tools are helpful in advising farmers about best practices in the application of fertilizers and pesticides, in order to both optimize crop yield and prevent water pollution problems.|
|10||»Few management tools consider the impact of mitigation methods||Many farm management tools promoting smart nutrient and/or pesticide use are available, but only a few explicitly consider the impact of mitigation methods on water quality.|
|11||»There are obstacles to exchanging decision support tools between countries||Although most EU countries already have comparable decision support tools, designed to address similar problems, there are obstacles to exchanging the tools between countries.|
|12||»Capacity at local level is needed for good drinking water quality||Good drinking water quality delivery requires sufficient capacity at the local level to ensure that implementation of policies and law results in effective local action. This includes feedback mechanisms and intersectoral learning.|
|13||»Improved coherence in EU policy will strengthen protection of drinking water resources||Improving correlations between directives, policies, objectives and requirements, including cross-referencing them, will strengthen the overall policy framework towards protection of drinking water resources from agricultural pressures.|
|14||»Structural policy choices can reduce inputs and pressures at source||Economic pressures in agriculture severely limits farmers’ room to maneuver. The effect of local optimisation processes is only a fraction of what can be achieved with more structural policy choices that reduce inputs and pressures at their source.|
|15||»Barriers to water quality protection relate to lack of political will and scarce instruction||Barriers to protection of water quality in the EU are mostly observed at the national or regional levels and relate to lack of political will, and scarce instruction on the process of legislation implementation. Project clustering is a strategy to make science more connected to policy challenges and stakeholder needs.|
|16||»Potential synergies exist for evidence-based practices||There are potential synergies for evidence-based practices for reducing nitrate and pesticide pollution of drinking water resources, regarding their applicability, adoptability, and costs across EU.|
In standardising the presentation of the 16 key messages, FAIRWAY has created a dossier of concise and technical output, written in easily accessible language. The key message sheets can be used as standalone documents for other FAIRWAY dissemination activities (webpage, FB, twitter, conferences). They are designed to be distributed to wide range of interested stakeholders: EU decision makers, scientists, farmers, agriculture advisers, and non-governmental organizations of promotors of safe drinking water. Thus the lessons learned from those stakeholders described in »Barriers and issues in providing integrated scientific support for EU policy and »Actors' feedback on practices for improvement of water quality in FAIRWAY case studies and interim project results about their preferences for receiving information from research projects are also taken into account.
3.3 Additional messages related to FAIRWAY’s objectives
Here we give eight additional messages related to each of FAIRWAY's objectives.
Table 3: Messages relating to FAIRWAY's objectives
|FAIRWAY objective||Related key message|
|1||Analyse success and failure factors associated with the implementation of strategies that mitigate nitrate and pesticide pollution of vulnerable drinking water resources in 13 case studies across Europe, using a multi-actor approach (MAP) to facilitate effective cooperation between actors.||Multi-actor platforms function well as platforms for exchange of opinions and ideas, and for sharing information and knowledge. Sharing of perspectives and trust between key actors is a necessary condition for common understanding and for setting joint strategies, but does not necessarily lead to desired impacts on water quality. Multi-actor platforms do not have a generic formulation but need to be made specific to each situation.|
|2||Identify and further develop transparent “Agri-drinking water quality indicators” for the evaluation of drinking water protection strategies, with a special attention to develop indicators that are understandable and appealing to farmers and citizens.||Agri-drinking water quality indicators are useful at all spatial levels: at farm level as an aid in farmer’s consultation, at local and national level as an evaluation and monitoring tool for administration work and for policy-makers. The agricultural nitrogen surplus pressure indicator is identified as a suitable Agri-drinking water quality indicator as it is the most significant, prevalent, effective, and easy to use indicator regarding nitrate contamination of water. However, a comparison of calculated nitrogen budgets needs to be interpreted carefully, because of differences in methods, and data. For pesticides, there is not a similar indicator, because of the many compounds that are used. The time lag between agricultural pressure and drinking water quality response is an important indicator to be used in a successful drinking water protection strategy.|
|3||Develop harmonized datasets for water quality monitoring of drinking water resources.||A database has been developed and delivered. There is a need to harmonize databases in the EU member states and ease the transmission of data to compare Pressure and State indicators. There is also a need to harmonise the methods for analysing all relevant substances and to ease collection of direct or indirect data. There is also a need to solve or at least improve personal data protection related constraints.|
|4||Identify and evaluate novel measures and practices aiming at maintaining and/or improving water quality under different conditions, using literature review, results of previous projects, and experts’ and stakeholders’ opinions.||There are potential synergy solutions of evidence-based practices for water quality protection from contamination by pesticides and nitrate residues concerning their applicability, adoptability and cost. Reduction of pesticide pollution of drinking water resources demands a combination of input reduction, farm system redesign, and point source mitigation. Win-wins for pesticide regulation include bio beds/filters and artificial constructed wetlands. Balanced N fertilization and cover crops are most promising measures to reduce nitrate leaching. Win-wins for nitrate regulation include changes in the application method of manure, grassed waterways and changes in cropping system and crop rotation. Implementation of measures to reduce nitrate losses should not only consider the effectiveness, and costs, but also the likelihood of adoption and possible (unwanted) side-effects such as pollution swapping to emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide and phosphate.|
|5||Review, adapt, demonstrate and evaluate decision-support tools for advice, training and communication in order to inform cost-effective mitigation practices and establish common awareness for diffuse pollution of vulnerable drinking water resources among farmers and water suppliers.||Decision support tools are helpful in advising farmers of best practice and planning in the application of fertilizers, in order to optimize crop yield and prevent water pollution problems with nitrates. Many farm management tools promoting smart nutrient and/or pesticide use are available, but only a few tools explicitly consider the impact of mitigation methods on water quality. Improving nutrient use efficiency generally increases both farm profit and the quality of groundwater. Key obstacles to exchange tools between countries include differences in legislation, advisory frameworks, country-specific and geo-climate data and language issues.|
|6||Analyse how EU and national policies and governance practices can be better balanced when focusing on the cost-effective protection of drinking water resources and derive recommendations for improvement at national and EU level.||The legal framework for the protection drinking water resources from pollution by pesticides and nitrates by agricultural practices is both very comprehensive and fragmented. The overall framework is likely to be fit for purpose, but the extent to which this purpose will be realized depends to a large degree on implementation. Formalizing the interactions between directives institutionally by requiring cross-referencing with regards to monitoring and enforcement could help with this. Complexities and inconsistencies in European legislation become most explicit at the local level where cross-sectoral measures have to be taken and effects monitored. A facilitated, cross-sectoral approach to policy application at local level should be adopted to improve stakeholder networks, and between institutional levels and hydrological scales Across all FAIRWAY case studies, the coherence of governance was considered compromised at catchment and farm level. Although based on a small sample size, there appears to be consensus that citizen participation and involvement of civil society is yet to be fully functional and effective.|
|7||Identify key strategies and good practices for drinking water protection and assess the implications of these options for policy and practice, based on the findings and results of WP2 to WP6 (WP7).||The legal framework for the protection drinking water resources from pollution by pesticides and nitrates by agricultural practices is both very comprehensive and fragmented, but is likely to be fit for purpose. A facilitated, cross-sectoral approach to policy application at local level should be adopted to improve stakeholder networks. Multi-actor platforms can play a role in this, as they function well as platforms for exchange of opinions and ideas. Reduction of pesticide pollution of drinking water resources demands a combination of input reduction, farm system redesign, and point source mitigation, such as bio beds/filters and artificial constructed wetlands. Most perspective strategies to reduce nitrate leaching include balanced fertilizations, precision application of fertilizers and manure, grassed waterways and changes in cropping system and crop rotation, including cover crops. The agricultural nitrogen surplus pressure indicator is identified as a suitable agri-drinking water quality indicator for nitrate contamination of water, but there is not a similar indicator for pesticides because many compounds are used as pesticide. The time lag between agricultural pressure and drinking water quality response is an important indicator to be used in a successful drinking water protection strategy. There is a need to harmonize databases and assessment methods with pressure and state indicators for water quality in the EU member states to compare and assess indicators using a harmonized approach. Many farm management tools promoting smart nutrient and/or pesticide use are available, but only a few tools explicitly consider the impact of mitigation methods on water quality. Tools could be extended with agri-drinking water quality indicators and promising measures to reduce nitrate and pesticide pollution.|
|8||Disseminate projects results via demonstration in the case study sites, multi-actor workshops, and publications in practical and scientific journals, using a variety of formats and media to engage actors at regional, national and EU-level (WP8).||The workshops and webinars organized by the FAIRWAY project were successful, because of high number of people that participated, and the lively discussions of the results and related topics with a wide range of stakeholders. Infographics, fact sheets, newsletters, videos and films, were also produced and were used in these workshops and MAPS.|
These additional messages are principly intended for the European Commission, providing summary results for the main research issues that were identified in the call text and FAIRWAY's description of work.
For full references to papers quoted in this article see » References
Download the full report for Appendices 1 and 2