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Our Regional Council Forum is both an integral pathway for involving regional councils in the programme and a key mechanism to ensure our research remains relevant.

The research team are working with a group of 10 regional councils (Environment Southland, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, Tasman District Council, Environment Canterbury, Northland Regional Council, Auckland Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council) and the Ministry for the Environment to explore and query the historic and emerging approaches for managing freshwater and the challenges being posed by the freshwater reforms.

The Forum meets at least annually for 2 days to explore the experiences of councils, share knowledge and insights between the councils and research team, and discuss how research findings can be used and enhanced to improve decision-making in regional councils and other key stakeholders in freshwater management.

The Forum has covered a number of topics related to Freshwater decisions including:

Policy and council decision-making

A regional council decision-making cycle was identified as well as other key barriers to making decisions around freshwater management. See Old problems new solutions. Integrative research supporting natural resource governance for more details.

Balancing values and making trade-offs

The regional council members were challenged to identify the set of approaches that could be used to balance values and make trade-offs. Instead, they identified a set of principles for policy makers to use. See Policy Brief 3: Principles to underpin freshwater decision-making.

Indicators

Key presentations:

Policy Choice Framework

The Policy Choice Framework helps decision-makers choose policy instruments or interventions that are most likely to influence the behaviour of water users (broadly defined) and thereby improve freshwater outcomes. This framework is generally applicable to all resource management decisions.

Collaborative Processes

With a larger number of regional councils starting to explore and undertake collaborative processes to set freshwater limits, we hosted a forum that focused on the experiences of regional councils in establishing and convening collaborative processes. This led to a greater research focus on collaborative processes.

Knowledge delivery for decision-making in water management

Freshwater management is changing with different processes (e.g. collaborative processes), different requirements (such as those resulting from the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management), and different expectations on the extent and type of knowledge needed to support decisions. This Forum explored the types of knowledge needed for the various stages in the decision-making cycle from identifying the issue through to assessing the policy options.