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The Harmonicop project is supported by European Union's framework 5 Programme for Research and Development, and by the European Commission as part of its programme on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (contract no.: EESD-ENV-2000-02-57)


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Overview /_Objective

The aim of the HarmoniCOP project (2002 -2005) was to increase the understanding of participatory river basin management planning (RBMP) in Europe. RBMP is the integrated cross-sectoral planning and management of river basins if necessary across political and administrative borders. The project's objective was to generate practical information about participation processes in river basin management and to support the implementation of the public participation provisions of the European Water Framework Directive.

Problems to be solved

Stakeholder and public participation (in the following referred to as PP) in river basin management planning is a prerequisite for the successful implementation of the European water framework directive. A successful implementation implies that environmental objectives are achieved in an economically efficient and socially beneficial fashion. However, the scientific knowledge base regarding understanding and design of multi-scale stakeholder and public participation processes of social learning is quite fragmented. One has recognised as well for years the presence of a huge gap between outcomes of integrated models and river basin management practice, but there has been little success in bridging the gap. Too often information is seen as an objective input into decision-making, ignoring issues such as uncertainty and implicit policy choices. Rarely is information and are information tools seen as a means to promote and inform discussions between stakeholders and thus foster social learning. An improved understanding of processes of social learning is a prerequisite to implement novel management strategies and to bridge the science-policy gap.

Expected impacts

The handbook on PP provides a basis for the development of improved integrated models and decision support tools. Users are developers of integrated management models and decision support tools in both, academia and business, river basin management authorities and consortia who find guidance on how to design a stakeholder process for developing a river basin management plan. This supports the implementation of the public participation provisions of the Water Framework Directive. The project has lead to the accumulation of human (build up of individual expertise) and social capital inherent in the network of researchers and stakeholder groups.