Citizen Engagement, Governance and Social Innovation

jubilee_bridge_smallUNDP and the Global Water Partnership define water governance in the following manner:

“a range of political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place to develop and manage water resources and the delivery of water services, at different levels of society”.

WeSenseIt allows citizens to play an integral role in water governance by establishing a citizens’ water observatory using innovative data collection mechanisms in combination with innovative communication channels and by empowering them to play a more active role in decision-making process. This activity is in line with the EU Directive on Public Participation regarding the environment (and with the EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC as well as the EU Floods Directive 2007/60/EC) which states that:

“effective public participation in the taking of decisions enables the public to express, and the decision-maker to take account of, opinions and concerns which may be relevant to those decisions, thereby increasing the accountability and transparency of the decision-making process and contributing to public awareness of environmental issues and support for the decisions taken” (Directive 2003/35/EC).

mms_img1130864125In WeSenseIt, participation features consist of allowing the community to provide feedback about the delivered information services and about policies, plans and decisions being generated. The project facilitates knowledge and experience sharing among citizens. In this respect, a two-way communication channel (e.g. to upload information, stream video, tweet or use forums) has been created as part of the whole data management platform within an e-collaboration environment. This facilitates two-way communication, which is the essential component for effective participation, among a range of stakeholders including experts, the general public and decision-makers. Such a continuous exchange of knowledge and experience will facilitate taking water-related decisions and will feed into governance processes and environmental policies at a global scale.