Aims and Scope

The aims of the i-Five project are to promote the transboundary exchange of experiences in implementing the European Water Framework Directive (WFD), to broaden the range of available methods and tools, and to help water managers develop the best approach for their circumstances.

To this end, the project will analyze ongoing WFD implementation processes in which innovative instruments and institutions1) (in the project referred to as I-3) are put into practice. As these may function and perform differently in different institutional settings, they will be evaluated within their respective national contexts in which they have been applied. Particular attention will be given to the possibility to "transplant" the I-3 under study to other national contexts2).

The project will result in a "Quick Scan" method that will allow practitioners to assess ex ante whether (and to some extent how) a particular I-3 can be adapted to their context.

The project will focus on I-3 for the setting of environmental objectives (cf. WFD art. 4) at the sub-basin level and for the development of measures to be included in the river basin management plans. It will analyze the following aspects:

  1. The institutional context in which the I-3 have been applied, including financing systems for water management
  2. The process of developing and applying the I-3. This will include an analysis of:
    a. the interactions between different scales (basin, national, sub-basin, local) and sectors (agriculture, urban development, ...)
    b. the involvement of stakeholders in the process (cf. WFD art. 14)
    c. the involvement of technical experts and the role of their expertise
    d. the adaptive management capacity of the selected institutional settings
  3. The function, performance and effects of the I-3
  4. The implementation requirements for the I-3: criteria will be developed to assess their potential for "institutional transplantation"

The i-Five project will apply an action research methodology to selected regions in France, Germany and The Netherlands, guided by a jointly developed conceptual framework for analysis. Water managers and other stakeholders will be actively involved in the research. The results will facilitate the development and transfer of innovations in WFD implementation.


1) The term institution is used here in a broad sense, covering all "humanly devised constraints that structure human interaction. They are made up of formal constraints (rules, laws, constitutions), informal constraints (norms of behaviour, conventions and self-imposed codes of conduct), and their enforcement characteristics" (Douglass North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

2) Cf. Martin de Jong et al., The Theory and Practice of Institutional Transplantation: Experiences with the Transfer of Policy Institutions. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002.


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