The Guadalete and Barbate participatory planning process was designed to obtain stakeholder feedback on measures for managing the Guadalete and Barbate river basins in Andalusia, Spain. The process, held in 2010 and 2014, was organized by the Andalusian Water Agency.
Problems and Purpose
The problems to be addressed by the process included “diffuse pollution” and river flow and connectivity (i.e., hydromorphology) (Kochskämper, Schütze, & Ballester, 2018, p. 66), and the resulting needs to develop policies and practical measures to address those issues. Another cause of the process was the introduction of the European Water Framework Directive, which required some degree of public participation in water resource management, and the integration of the directive into Spanish law in the 2000s (Kochskämper et al., 2018). In the Spanish autonomous community of Andalusia, the process was apparently aimed at enabling local stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed water-management measures, ostensibly to improve the effectiveness of the measures.
As the European Water Framework Directive was being integrated into Spanish national law in 2003 and 2004, Spanish autonomous communities revised their policies to implement provisions of the directive. In Andalusia, one consequence was the introduction, beginning in 2003, of various methods of stakeholder participation, including the Guadalete and Barbate participatory planning process.
Originating Entities and Funding
The Andalusian Water Agency organized the Guadalete and Barbate participatory planning process, supported by the Foundation Center for New Water Technologies.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participants were stakeholders in the Guadalete and Barbate river basins, not the general public, and the included stakeholders were chosen by the Andalusian Water Agency. The Guadalete and Barbate participatory planning process consisted of several sub-processes, only two of which are discussed here. One process was a multi-stakeholder workshop, with 30 participants from civil society, government, and the for-profit sector. The second process was “a mediation meeting on environmental flow rates” (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 66), with 20 participants from civil society, government, and business.
Methods and Tools Used
One multi-stakeholder workshop was held in 2010, and a second in 2014. For each multi-stakeholder workshop, participants received a packet of information beforehand, and then the workshop consisted of a three-hour meeting, divided into two sessions. In both 2010 and 2014, the first workshop session consisted of agency presentations about the water-management plan for the river basins and “the status of” the bodies of water in the region (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 67). In the 2010 and 2014 workshops, in the second session, participants were separated into three, sector-specific groups, i.e., with all civil-society participants in one group, all governmental participants in another group, and all business participants in the third group. In the 2010 workshop, participants in groups completed a questionnaire asking them to prioritize proposed water-management measures, and then participants discussed “neglected issues or missing measures” (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 68). In the 2014 workshop, the questionnaire was omitted, and the topic of the group discussion is unclear.
One environmental-flow mediation appears to have been held, in 2010. This consisted of agency presentations of information about “regulatory changes relating to environmental flows” (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 68), without any opportunity for discussion by participants.
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
In the 2010 multi-stakeholder workshop, in the second session, participants discussed, with members of their own group, omitted issues and additional possible measures. Yet no discussion was allowed between participant groups, and so there was no opportunity to address issues on which there were conflicts between sectors, such as irrigation. The feedback that participants gave concerning ranking of measures on the questionnaires was limited to closed-ended items, so participants were not allowed to give open-ended feedback about measures to the agency. In the 2014 multi-stakeholder workshop, there was no questionnaire with which participants could provide input to the agency. In the 2010 and 2014 multi-stakeholder workshops, whether participant groups were able to communicate the main points of their discussions to the agency is unclear. Some participants reported engaging in networking “with other stakeholders” during the 2014 multi-stakeholder workshop (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 71). Participants were not given a chance to make any decisions during either multi-stakeholder workshop.
In the 2010 environmental-flow mediation, participants were given no opportunity for discussion or feedback to the agency, nor any chance to make a decision.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Whether this process affected policy is unclear. Results of the 2010 multi-stakeholder process questionnaires were reported in the final management plan for the Guadalete and Barbate river basins, but no one could determine whether any questionnaire results had influenced the choice or content of adopted measures. In the questionnaire responses, participants from all groups had prioritized “urban wastewater treatment” as an issue, but only the business group had prioritized “water availability” (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 69). On the final list of measures adopted by the agency, the issues addressed by the largest shares of measures were urban wastewater treatment and water availability, but the measures concerning the latter were designed to increase water supply, and so may have exacerbated the water-allocation problem facing these river sub-basins. Kochskämper et al. (2018) do not report detailed information on implementation of measures, but cite agency personnel as claiming that some environmental-flow measures had been “successfully implemented” (Kochskämper et al., 2018, p. 71). The agency also claimed that some measures prioritized by participants had not been adopted because of feasibility problems. Water quality in the river basins does not appear to have improved, and may have declined.
In terms of social outcomes, results were mixed. The agency reported some satisfaction with the process among participants. Yet other sources reported that participant satisfaction with the process and acceptance of the results were generally low, for several reasons: the pre-workshop information was too voluminous and hard to understand, participants reported not having learned anything from the process, participants could not determine whether their input had influenced the results, and participants doubted that the adopted measures took their interests into consideration. Some participants reported that this dissatisfaction with the 2010 process reduced their motivation to participate in the 2014 multi-stakeholder workshop. Some networking among participants may have occurred during the 2014 multi-stakeholder workshop. In addition, there was some evidence that activity in another network called the Andalusian Network for a New Water Culture may have increased in response to the low quality of engagement that participants experienced during the Guadalete and Barbate participatory planning process, but there was no evidence that participants in that process launched any particular projects with the Andalusian Network for a New Water Culture.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The participatory aspects of this process seem to have been mostly unsuccessful. Results might have been improved had the process been designed to enable stakeholders to influence policy in a meaningful way; if the multi-stakeholder workshop questionnaires had included open-ended items allowing participants to provide detailed comments and alternative proposals; if the multi-stakeholder workshop procedures had allowed discussion of difficult issues between groups of participants; if discussion had been allowed during the environmental-flow mediation; and if, in the workshops and mediation, the agency had been required to take into consideration the main points of participants’ discussions.
Kochskämper, E., Schütze, N., & Ballester, A. (2018). Stakeholder and citizen involvement for Water Framework Directive implementation in Spain: Three case studies from Andalusia, Cantabria and Catalonia. In E. Kochskämper, E. Challies, N. W. Jager, & J. Newig (Eds.), Participation for effective environmental governance: Evidence from European Water Framework Directive implementation (pp. 65-89). London: Routledge.