Engaged Experts Co-Design Pathways for Freshwater in France


Nearly thirty experts from practice and academia took part in the Freshwater Pathways Workshop from 19 to 20 November 2019 in Rennes, France. The workshop is the second out of four pilot workshops launched by Future Earth for the Science-Based Pathways for Sustainability Initiative.

Building on the achievements and lessons learned from the Biodiversity Pathways Workshop (October 2019) the Freshwater Pathways Workshop aimed to mobilize a variety of expertise and perspectives to develop pathways for freshwater resources in France. The Science Committee that was responsible for organizing the workshop included members from IRSTEA, CNRS, ENGEES, Rennes University 1, French Water Partnership and Future Earth.

While many scenarios solely focus on producing an image of what the future may look like, the Science-Based Pathways for Sustainability initiative also includes the design of the possible pathways to reach that future, including needed societal transformations and policy priorities. To this end Future Earth convened a diverse group of participants including various natural and social scientists (Agrocampus, IRSTEA, Rennes University 1, Université Grenoble Alpes, Université de Limoges et ENSEGID INP Bordeaux) and practitioners from the Bretagne Chamber of Agriculture, the French biodiversity Agency (AFB), two NGOs (France Nature Environnement, Eaux et Rivières de Bretagne), the French-based utility company Suez and a local water agency (Eau du Bassin Rennais).

For two days, the participants worked together to create a scenario and pathway for freshwater in France by 2030, taking into account the interactions between freshwater (SDG 6), and agriculture (SDG 2), climate change (SDG 13), energy (SDGs 7), cities (SDG 11), oceans (SDG 14), health and wellbeing (SDG 3). They worked on articulating a scenario to reach the following proposed objective for 2030: “In France, by 2030, freshwater availability is ensured fairly and in a sustainable way for both natural and human needs while preserving the quality of raw water sources and healthy ecosystems.

Participants identify and analyse needed transformations in two parallel sessions.

Participants identified and analysed three key transformations necessary for the realisation of the scenario by 2030:

  1. Foster the diffusion of knowledge on the water cycle to create a common vision among different water-related communities,
  2. Encourage sobriety in water consumption while reducing inequalities and,
  3. Promote inclusive governance to spread the adoption of systemic solutions to water-related issues.

Further discussions will take place in the coming weeks to reinforce the knowledge bridges built during the workshop and to analyse the possible implications of this scenario for other scales (including other countries and regions).

The Future Earth Secretariat is currently working on preparing the outputs of the workshops together with the Science Committee and the participants, including publications and reports detailing the scenario and pathway. The last two pilot French workshops on Ocean and Land will be held in 2020.

Workshop Science committee: Jean-Nicolas Beisel (Ecole Nationale du Génie de l’Eau et de l’Environnement de Strasbourg), Lila Collet (IRSTEA), Agathe Euzen (CNRS, INEE), Alexandre Gauvain (Université Rennes 1), Nathalie Hervé-Fournereau (Université Rennes 1, CNRS), Denis Salles (IRSTEA and Future Earth France), Eric Servat (Institut Montpelliérain de l’Eau et de l’Environnement, OSU OREME), Gérard Payen (French Water Partnership), Cosma Cazé, Sandrine Paillard and Vincent Virat (Future Earth).