When: Mon 21.10.2019 at 15-16.30
Where: Viikki, lecture room 104 (Street address: Latokartanonkaari 7)
Registration for coffee
Chair: Dr. Laura Uusitalo, Leading researcher, Programme for Environmental Information, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Dr. Antti Iho, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)
Efficient allocation of nutrient abatement between and within source types
Excessive loading of phosphorus (P) is accelerating eutrophication of surface waters. Mass blooms of harmful algae deteriorate the value of freshwater lakes and important sea areas such as Lake Erie, the Baltic Sea and the Chesapeake Bay. Due to comprehensive adoption of effective abatement technologies in point sources, agricultural non-point pollution is the most important remaining external source of total P, and erosion the most important media of total P loading. Indeed, emphasizing the need to intensify agricultural abatement efforts and erosion control in particular are the main guidelines in any water protection programs in developed countries.
However, using a metric correlating more strongly with eutrophication might shift the focus of efficient water protection in three ways. First, it might put more emphasis on point-source abatement. Second, it might put more emphasis on agri-environmental measures that do not increase the loading of dissolved P. Third, it might put more pressure on the scope of agriculture, i.e. shift the focus from intensive to extensive margin.
We examine the usefulness and practical limitations of defining and adopting a specific P metric, PO4-equivalent. Similar to CO2-equivalent used as in reference to greenhouse gas emissions, it defines the weights for the main P fractions according to their contributions to eutrophication in water bodies that are P limited. We present results from a stylized optimization model and reflect these to real world examples.
Antti Iho is a senior researcher at the Natural Resources institute Finland, Luke. He has analyzed the efficiency of agri-environmental water protection and instruments to achieve it.
Ass. prof. Niko Soininen, Faculty of Law / HELSUS, University of Helsinki
Systemic incongruence of EU-Finnish water law: death by thousand cuts?
The EU Water Framework Directive is a remarkable regulatory achievement. In 2000, it established an ambitious and detailed framework for monitoring, planning and acting towards Good Ecological Status (GES) of surface waters in the EU by 2015. The directive was informed by the latest scientific insights on the functioning of natural and human systems. Considering complexity and uncertainty in natural systems, it established an iterative River Basin Management Planning system which would, at least in principle, always be informed by the latest science. Considering uncertainty in social systems, it left discretion for the member states to coin measures suitable to and acceptable in their differing circumstances. Yet, almost 20 years after the directive’s inception, roughly 40 % of rivers, lakes and transitional and coastal waters in the EU are in good ecological status or potential. In Finland these numbers are somewhat more flattering, roughly 68 % of rivers, and 87 % of lakes are in good or excellent status or potential. This notwithstanding, most of Finnish coastal waters are in moderate or poor status. After almost 20 years of effort, why are we not there yet?
Considering Finland, it may well be that the impact of climate change, increased precipitation and runoff, as well as internal pressures trump any meaningful efforts to reach GES. But there are also several legal reasons for this failure. First, the Finnish water legislation did not establish the goals of the directive as legally binding before 2015, and even now they are only binding by court rulings, thus eliminating a sense of urgency in dealing with water sustainability challenges. This lack of urgency has been further diminished by the directive’s exemption system, which allows member states to push the achievement of GES to 2027, and with WFD revision, perhaps beyond that. Second, the directive is highly complex, and several legal uncertainties remain especially with regard to what the Good Ecological Status/Potential requires. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the directive fails due to ill-designed legal systemic boundaries in Finnish law. Both the Environmental Protection Act and the Water Act were designed to tackle local and immediate negative human impact on waters (e.g. a single industrial operation or hydropower dam), not complex cumulative problems posing the ‘death by thousand cuts’ challenge. These design flaws range from spatial and sectoral to temporal and scientific boundaries in law that need tackling before true progress towards the Good Ecological Status can take place.
Dr. Mika Marttunen, Head of Water Management and Governance Unit, Finnish Environment Institute
Structured decision making and sustainable water management
The ability of both public organizations and companies to make environmental decisions to balance different aspects of sustainability is increasingly important in modern societies. Making these decisions requires overall understanding of the ecological, economic, and social systems as well as relationships within and among them. Such understanding can only be built through a dialogue between planners, scientists, stakeholders, and policy makers. Hence, there is a growing demand for methods that can facilitate interaction between relevant actors and support the structuring and analysis of environmental decision problems. Structured Decision Making or SDM, is an organized approach to identifying and evaluating creative options and making choices in complex decision situations. In SDM, both qualitative and quantitative models are applied.
The first stage in any decision process is the understanding of the broader context and characteristics of the problem. This includes the identification of stakeholders and their interests, concerns and hopes. During this diverging or opening-up phase a comprehensive representation of the problem is developed which may be presented, for example, in the form of a cognitive or causal map, a means end network or an objectives hierarchy. In the following converging or closing-down stage, key objectives are identified and in-depth evaluation of alternatives is carried out. In this stage, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can be a powerful tool. It enables the systematic and comprehensive evaluation of alternatives from economic, social and ecological perspectives. Priority values to alternatives can be calculated by combining research results, expert judgments and preferences of decision-makers/stakeholders. MCDA also helps to identify key trade-offs and issues of agreement and disagreement.
In Freshwater Centre, SDM methods and MCDA have been applied in a large number of projects since the beginning of 1990s. These projects include e.g. water course regulation, river and lake restoration, river basin management planning and land use planning. In these projects, MCDA has facilitated discussions among multiple stakeholders, supported social learning in the projects’ working groups and produced a high quality material for informed decision-making. In this respect, it has played an important role in our aim to manage Finnish waters in a more sustainable manner.