Summary description
Driven by Europe’s pressing need to overcome its water quality and water scarcity challenges, the speed of innovation in the water sector is outpacing that of science. The methodologies available to assess the impact of innovative solutions to water-related challenges remain limited and highly theoretical, which sets boundaries on their application and usefulness to water practitioners. This hampers the uptake of new technologies and innovative management practices, thus foregoing potential gains in resource efficiency and nature protection, as well as wider benefits to society and the economy. To address this gap, the DESSIN project developed a framework to evaluate the changes in ecosystem services (ESS) associated with technical or management solutions implemented at the water body, sub-catchment or catchment level. The framework was developed with a specific focus on freshwater ecosystems to allow for a more detailed exploration of practical implementation issues. Its development, testing and validation was carried out by conducting ESS evaluations in three different urban case study settings. The framework builds upon existing classification systems for ESS (CICES and FEGS-CS) and incorporates the DPSIR adaptive management scheme as its main structural element. This enables compatibility with other international initiatives on ESS assessments and establishes a direct link to the EU Water Framework Directive, respectively. This work furthers research on practical implementation of the Ecosystem Services Approach, while pushing the discussion on how to promote more informed decision-making and support innovation uptake to address Europe’s current water-related challenges.