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Successful workshop in Paris

Celtic Seas Partnership workshop.Paris

May was a very busy month for us! We were in Paris for our second multi-national workshop and I’m pleased to say that it was a great success.

Initial feedback from delegates described the event as informative, engaging, interactive, and participative. Highlights for many were the panel session with representatives from French, Irish and UK government, meeting and working with a range of other sea-users, and the journey across Paris (via the Sacré-Cœur) to a delightful evening meal.

We’ll be writing up a detailed recording of the workshop over the next month and will be sharing the final report in June. As a taster for those of you unable to attend we have produced a short summary and we thought we’d share some key points from our panel discussion.

The panel featured Ludovic Schultz from the French Ministry, Dominic Pattinson from Defra (UK), Richard Cronin from Irish Government, David Johnson Director at Seascape Consultants and Rhona Fairgrieve from the Scottish Coastal Forum.

Key points from the discussion that stood out to us:

  • The government representatives each talked about the importance of aligning different policies and consultations where possible. In France they have streamlined their delivery of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) with the Water Framework Directive (WFD) timeline. Defra have done something similar with running the consultations on the second tranche of Marine Conservation Zones and the MSFD programme of measures at the same time.
  • We also heard from each government about their recognition of the need to work more closely with stakeholders. Whilst this is very encouraging there are some questions about how well this is happening in practice. Rhona Fairgrieve talked about the importance of getting the stakeholder engagement right and not just a tick box exercise. She described stakeholder participation as informed stakeholders willing and able to participate. She also stated the need to always feedback to stakeholders to explain why their comments have or have not been acted on.
  • Some shared challenges to delivering MSFD were unsurprisingly: the (lack of) availability of resources, the complexity of the directive making communication with sea-users difficult, established silos in government acting as barriers to cross-departmental working and the availability of evidence for arguing the case for new measures.
  • As a flipside to the challenges the different government representatives talked of the need to: have clear and concise language around the MSFD and marine policy, demonstrate how policies produce long term value, have evidence for getting support for new measures and integrate the different marine policies (e.g. MSFD, CFP, MSP…)
  • David Johnson shared with the workshop a conversation he’d had recently where a question had been asked – can we afford sustainable development and the ecosystem approach? With the answer to that being – how can we not afford it with rising population, climate change, and ocean acidification? He also stated that whilst there are clear difficulties for Member States in delivering the MSFD, the framework is seen as innovative and exemplary in other parts of the world.
  • David Johnson too championed the Celtic Seas Partnership project saying that the regional scale of the Celtic Seas is at the correct scale to address management and the project is asking the right questions. He raised the concern that although projects like ours produce useful tools, the timeframes are often at odds with the policy. In our case the project will end in 2016 yet the goal of achieving Good Environmental Status is due by 2020. He stated the importance of the need for sustained investment and momentum and for the Celtic Seas Partnership to share generic lessons with other regions.

David’s last point about the sustained investment and momentum is particularly relevant to us at the moment as we begin to plan for after the life of the project – considering how to ensure that our outputs continue to be used and disseminated and how the outcomes can be reinforced.  This is something we hope to get your input on over the remainder of the project.