Coupling practices between knowledge and decisions in participatory water governance: A comparison of WFD and MSFD implementation in France

Special report: The democracy of water territories
By Gabrielle Bouleau, Caitríona Carter, Arnaud Thomas

This article compares the effects of “performative participation” on the nature and use of knowledge in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) compared with that of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in New Aquitaine. Both European directives promote an ecosystem approach to participation, but offer very little detail on how this can be implemented in practice. We apply a new conceptual model (4As) to compare how actors have responded through (1) Acquisition of knowledge and political resources, (2) their Aggregation, (3) Articulation, and (4) Accumulation. Results show how in both cases ecosystem coupling practices shaped knowledge usage and constructed two new types of “public” in water governance.


  • ecosystem approach
  • participation
  • knowledge
  • decision
  • WFD
  • MSFD
  • Gironde river (France)
  • Bay of Biscay
  • New Aquitaine (France)
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