Keywords: EU Water Framework Directive, WFD, river basin management, Hungary, Upper Tisza region, public involvement, water policy, science, society, European Union, public participation, local communities, dialogue, experts, stakeholders, conflict management, conflicting objectives, policy uncertainties, trust, risk management
Implementing the EU Water Framework Directive in Hungary: a pilot project in the Upper-Tisza region
As a new member of the European Union, Hungary is obliged to adopt the Water Framewok Directive and develop river basin management plans at various levels. To prepare the planning process, a pilot project was conducted, with a focus on the Upper Tisza region, in which the involvement of a multidisciplinary expert group was combined with the participation of local stakeholders. Tools of public participation included public opinion surveys, information campaigns, public forums, consultation reports and a website, among others. This paper presents the process of public involvement, with particular attention to the role and reactions of the local communities affected by the project. Key factors of success and failure are analysed and lessons are distilled, by paying special attention to the dialogue between experts and stakeholders, the management of conflicting objectives and views, the handling of policy uncertainties, and the prospect for building trust in institutions.