Mersey basin Campaign
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Archive document

Integrated Catchment Management and Planning for Sustainability: The Case of the Mersey Basin Campaign


This research examines the emerging role of 'planning for sustainability' in the context of river catchment management, with the Mersey Basin Campaign as the principal case study. Good water quality and a healthy water cycle are essential for sustaining ecosystems and the human and industrial activities within them. For this reason, Integrated Catchment Management is a vital component of the emerging sustainability agenda. The last two decades have seen a call for increased integration in water management, driven by recognition of the limits of a fragmented organizational approach and an increased understanding of the interconnected nature of many of the problems that affect water quality. Symptoms of water-related problems are often detected far from their sources. Efforts to improve the water environment require action at multiple geographic scales, and involve many different sectors and actors. The newly enacted European Union Water Framework Directive requires each Member State to produce an integrated management plan for every river basin. These plans must be formulated with a high degree of community and stakeholder involvement. The Mersey Basin Campaign offers a valuable case study in how to achieve this ambitious objective. This research has examined two of the Campaign’s delivery mechanisms, partnership networking and strategic planning, linking across spatial scales. Interviews with 25 key players, participant observation and programme literature provided a wealth of data. In-depth analysis combined an inductive approach, based on grounded theory, with an exploration of key themes in the light of systems thinking. This qualitative methodology allowed an extensive exploration of key characteristics of communication and strategic planning in the Campaign. Discussion of the nature of stakeholder partnerships clarified factors for their successful development. These include: shared vision and aims; broad engagement of sectors and stakeholders; equitable representation of interests; high level of participation in planning processes; synthesis of bottom-up and top-down planning; continuous, dynamic development; many opportunities for organizational learning; starting small with projects that lead to success stories; opportunities for informal interaction; and openness and transparency. The research findings offer lessons from the 15 years of experience of the Campaign, which can be applied to similar initiatives, as well as pointers for improving the effectiveness of the Campaign itself.

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organisation consultation community waterquality planning catchmentmanagement stakeholderengagement


Joanne Tippett University of Manchester Masters Thesis MA (Econ) in Social Research Methods

Publication date

September 2001


Copyright - Do not reuse – this item belongs to someone other than the Mersey Basin Campaign. Feel free to download it for your own use, but please do not republish it.

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