Network Learning in a Time of Regulatory Change: Water Management in Ireland and Europe

Micheal O'Cinneide, Director, EPA Ireland

Thursday, January 17, 2013, 3:00pm

MacLean B01

Adaption and learning are key features of regulatory change. The talk will focus on a priority area in environment policy – how can we build and sustain learning networks for resources management that bring together public managers and non state actors? Social learning by communities and non state actors will be key to future governance of water resources, coastal zones, and to the sustainable adaption to climate change. Water management, air quality, and climate change are among the top three issues on the Environment policy agenda in Europe. Public sector networks in the field of water management in Europe face a major challenge in implementing new regulations, which were created as a result of the Water Framework Directive in 2000. Each region in Europe had to set up River Basin Districts, which now oversee water quality for the 400 million citizens of Europe. The talk will focus on the effectiveness of these water networks in Ireland and Europe in the first cycle of river basin management.

The EU Commission has just published a review, called Blueprint for Water (COM 2012, 673; November 2012) and the data on water quality show that there is a long way to go to restore good water quality across Europe.

The talk will explore the roles of public participation and social learning as elements of adaptive management, leading to improved water outcomes. What are the policy risks and benefits of inviting public participation? A key proposition is that river basins with a more open, inclusive model of water governance can foster higher social learning and that this shared learning is a core attribute of effective networks.

About the Speaker

Micheál Ó Cinneide was appointed by the Government in 2008 as a Director at the Irish Environment Protection Agency. He oversees the Office which deals with water and air quality and reporting on the environment. He is a member of the EPA Board, which oversees the strategic direction of the EPA on enforcement, research, and environmental regulation. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School in Boston, MA. After graduating, he wrote Agribusiness cases at Harvard for a year before returning to work in a start-up aquaculture marketing firm in the west of Ireland. He has served in a number of Irish State agencies including the Marine Institute, as a policy advisor to Minister in the Department of the Marine and as a diplomat in the Department of Foreign Affairs in New York and Cairo. He was a founder member of a non profit community group, the Blasket Island Foundation in the west of Ireland. Micheál is a regular visitor to keep in touch with US society, especially to the green mountains of Vermont.