The value of combining a systems view of sustainability with a participatory protocol for ecologically informed design in river basins

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Abstract

The European Union Water Framework Directive offers an unparalleled opportunity for improving river basin management. 'End-of-pipe' solutions will not deliver sufficient improvements in order to achieve the ambitious goals set by the Directive. Ecological design, which can help to deliver 'upstream solutions', is essential to achieve these goals. This research examines the emerging role of 'planning for sustainability' in the context of river catchment management. The SUNstainable DesignWays process is being tested in the context of waterside regeneration in the NorthWest region of the UK. Sustainable management of water requires integration, recognizing the interconnections between systems operating at different levels of scale. This is an endeavour in which systems thinking could provide useful tools. Systems orientated models can enhance dialogue, facilitate work across scales and sectors and increase focus on the 'whole picture'. The development of DesignWays was a conscious attempt to embed 'new paradigm' living systems metaphors into a tool for design and decision-making. This paper discusses key challenges posed by the Water Framework Directive, followed by an exploration of the ways in which DesignWays can help to meet these challenges. This research points to the importance of a focus on ways using toolkits for participation as a societal process, aiming to make the process engaging and meaningful for participants. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005

Keywords

  • Catchment management
  • Decision support systems
  • Ecological design
  • Information management
  • Participation
  • Regeneration
  • River basin
  • Sustainability
  • Systems thinking
  • Water Framework Directive

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