By the end of 2021, EU member states and associated countries to the Common Implementation Strategy need to submit their River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) required under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) for the period 2022-2027 (third planning cycle). Before submission, draft plans need to be open for public consultation over a minimum period of six months. Since the adoption of the WFD in 2000, implementation has been lagging behind, so the 3rd planning cycle is critical to the achievement of the objective of good water status across Europe by 2027.
As a result, WWF was looking to assess the quality and relevance of those draft plans against the objectives of the WFD; the Fitness Check conclusions which pointed out the main implementation issues; and the implementation report on the previous cycle.
The objective was to produce a report including “scorecards” of draft RBMPS which would flag possible weaknesses in the plans according to selected indicators.
The tasks implemented by Fresh Thoughts Consulting included:
• The development of a methodology and scoring criteria to assess key topics of the draft RBMPs (Removal and adaptation of barriers, Hydropower, Inland navigation, Freshwater ecosystem protection and restoration with nature-based solutions, Water allocation and abstraction control, Drought and Flood management, Agriculture, Coal mining and combustion, Economic instruments and budget, Exemptions, Review and update on the implementation of the previous RBMP;
• Train a pan-European NGO team to assess draft RBMPs, and support it during the assessment process;
• Compile and assess the quantitative and qualitative information in two phases;
• Produce a final report, addressing the topics and country performance (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and one international River Basin District).