Catchment Management and Social Learning

Water resources are central to any environmental and human future.

Our research explores how water resource management can be improved using systems ideas and practices to design social learning systems.

We have undertaken research in a variety of contexts and domains including the UK, EU, China, South Africa and Australia.  We work with communities, farmers, policy-makers and regulators to develop a more systemic understanding of water resource managing and how this can be improved through social learning.

In the UK and EU, our research has explored the introduction of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which requires improvements to the ecological status of river and lake environments in the EU. This research was focussed on using systems ideas and social learning approaches to bring about a shared systemic understanding among middle and senior managers in the Environment Agency of WFD and its implications for river basin planning. Our report to the Agency:"River basin planning project: social learning (Science Report SC050037/SR1)" can be found at

A EU funded project, Social Learning for Integrated Management of Water - SLIM - explored how social learning approaches can help progress more integrated managing and sustainable use of water at catchment scales.  SLIM research is likely to be of interest to policy-makers and practitioners interested in new ways of managing of water and also other natural resources. It is directly relevant to Member States' efforts to implement the European Water Framework Directive.