Skip to navigation Skip to content

Exploring how to integrate goals for water management

River Dee in the Cairngorms, Copyright Steve Addy
How can we integrate our different goals for water management?
How can we integrate our different goals for water management?

There have been decades of calls for more integration in water and catchment management.  Many academic and policy documents state that improving integration should aid us in improving water management, particularly to efficiently achieve multiple objectives. However, integration is a word that can be interpreted in many ways, and there is little firm knowledge about exactly how to enable it. 

In this project we focus on the challenge of integrating goals for protecting and improving the water quality and ecology with goals for managing flood risk. We aim to learn from other countries’ experiences (good and bad).  We aim to synthesise these experiences, and also to identify insights about when and how we might further enable integration in Scotland.We are informed by academic concepts in environmental governance on topics such as coordination, participation, institutional interplay.

In 2016-2018 we focused on learning from the experiences of planning for integration in countries across Europe, and in 2019-2021 we focus on if and how catchment partnerships can help to reconcile multiple goals. In the latter part of our work we focus in particular on understanding the role of the private sector within partnerships, a topic which is increasingly emphasised in many contemporary discussions about environmental management.

This project is funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme 2016-21, where it is part of RD 1.2.4.  The current phase of work (2019+) is carried out in conjunction with RD 1.4.2. For more information about this ongoing research contact Kerry Waylen ( or Kirsty Blackstock (

Written outputs

  • In September 2016 we produced a short 10-page briefing that reviews what is already known about integration, and explains our future research plan. Click here to download the report (pdf, 09.MB). This corresponds with the first deliverable (D1.1) from this project.
  • In June 2017 we completed an analysis of River Basin Management Plans (made under the Water Framework Directive) and Flood Risk Management Plans (made under the Floods Directive). We analyse 6 sets of plans from cases across Europe, for indications of cross-references between the plans and policy areas. Click here to download the report (pdf, 0.9MB). This corresponds with the second deliverable (D1.2) from this project.
  • In September 2018 we completed the final main report of this project. This is based on interviews with people connected with policy implementation of the Floods Directive and Water Framework Directive in six cases across Europe. Click here to download the report (pdf, 684KB). This corresponds with the third deliverable (D1.3) from this project.
  • In October 2018 we summarised the main implications of this work in a short 4-page briefing. Click here to download the briefing (pdf, 801kb).
  • Insights from this work were used as part of a collaborative paper on the future of the Water Framework Directive, now published as Open Access in Science of the Total Environment, in March 2019.
  • In March 2019 we published an open access paper in the journal Water which summarises the main findings of our work. We highlight the need to focus on both organisational processes for collaboration as well as more formal procedures and policy mandates: however, the former are often invisible and potentially not sufficiently valued or resourced.
  • Also in March 2019 we produced a 19-page briefing scoping what is known about catchment partnership working, and the range of partnerships in the UK.
  • In March 2020 we produced a briefing summarising our preliminary findings on how and when catchment partnerships may enable the achievement of multiple environmental benefits. Click here to download the report.


In October 2018, Kerry Waylen presented on the findings and implications to European Commission Working Group 'F' on Floods, as part of their 24th meeting in Brussels.  Her presentation focused on updates and new issues arising since their 2014 report on this subject, which is one of their priority work areas.  This followed up on Kirsty Blackstock's presentation to the group in March 2017, where she focused on the early findings of the document analysis. Click here for the slides delivered in 2018, and here for the slides in 2017.

In January 2018 Kirsty Blackstock was invited to present on how River Basin Management might be improved using integration of various policies at the MARS Final conference. Her presentation discussed why we need to ensure ‘vertical consistency’ for integration, ensuring we have conceptual integration (a common vision); operational integration (appropriate instruments); implementation integration (integration is put into practice); and there is monitoring and evaluation that feeds back to the vision and instruments. The presentation drew on research funded by Scottish Government on integrating Water Framework Directive and Floods Directive, as well as on policy delivery mechanisms; and on research funded by the European Commission on Water-Energy-Food nexus (MAGIC-nexus), and funded by ALTER-NET on monitoring environmental management (MEEM). Click here to view the presentation slides and here read the abstract of the presentation.

In January 2019, Kerry Waylen was invited to present the findings and reflected on the academic implications at the conference 'The Future of European Water Governance' at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig. Click here for the slides delivered.


Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project
SEFARI – Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research InstitutesSEFARI is the collective of six Scottish world-leading Research Institutes working across the spectrum of environment, land, food, agriculture and communities – all topics which affect how we live our lives, in Scotland and beyond.


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/projects/water-integration on 10/08/20 08:50:21 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.