Blog: Supporting Catchment Partnerships

Natural Course has been delivering a series of projects to support Catchment Partnerships in the North West. The 11 partnership hosts in the region have been coming together to learn about how to engage with businesses and develop investible projects, develop their presentation and facilitation skills, and meet as a regional network to share successes and challenges and collaborate. This has built capacity within North West River Basin District (NWRBD) Catchment Partnerships, better equipping them to deliver Water Framework Directive (WFD) outcomes.

We caught up with Rose, the Collaborative Team Member representing the Environment Agency to tell us more about what’s been happening.

The North West is a diverse area and the Catchment Partnerships working to deliver WFD face a range of challenges and opportunities. Many of these are common to each catchment, however experiences of the various hosts and partners mean that some partnerships are better able to deal with, and take advantage of these than others. The Phase 3 Catchment Benchmarking report undertaken by Eunomia identified a number of issues and opportunities that could be addressed to assist Catchment Hosts and Partnerships to improve their delivery, specifically against WFD delivery, but also in wider ways of working, and this project sought to progress these recommendations.

North West regional hub

Supported by Natural Couse, throughout 2022/23 the Catchment Partnership hosts from across the NWRBD have been meeting both in-person and online to learn from each other, discuss common issues and share successes and challenges. The group have decided to continue to meet as a regional hub, post Natural Course, further developing a collaborative approach and coordination on issues, focussing on ideas sharing, learning from each other and developing a north west voice which has added legitimacy.

The forum developed by Natural Course facilitated the Catchment Partnerships to share knowledge to help less experienced partnerships deal with issues, and opportunities to allow all partnerships to access knowledge to further improve their effectiveness and efficiency now exist.

Business engagement support

Natural Course aimed to provide CaBA partnership hosts in the North West River Basin District area with support in moving through a project development process, focused on better enabling them to build robust business cases involving innovative and/or green finance models, and engage with potential partners (including buyers, sellers, and investors) to access innovative funding or investment and influence key stakeholders.

This was achieved through the production of an interactive guidance document, 1:1 support and mentoring from experts, guided project development exercises and training workshops. Links to the resources can be found below:

  • Developing investible projects – business support guidance
    • A guide for CaBA partnerships in the North West River Basin District wishing to access innovative finance
  • Workshop report
    • Reflections/recommendations from the workshop, slides from the presentations (What are ecosystem services?; Mainstreaming funding and finance into projects; Approaching new contacts; A new approach to financing nature recovery (GFI)) and a guide to the language to use to appeal to investors.

Facilitation and presentation training

Natural Course boosted the knowledge and skills of the Catchment Partnerships and project partners in the art of facilitation and presenting. Effective collaboration and making decisions as a group is an integral part of catchment partnerships and training provided by Wilson Sheriff taught the group the underpinning principles of facilitation and useful tools and techniques to guide their work, with a particular emphasis on online meetings. The presentation training equipped the participants with the necessary skills to craft and deliver confident, engaging presentations to influence different audiences, such as policy makers, businesses and investors. It supports the effective promotion of the work of Catchment Partnerships in the region, supporting them to reach out to all groups using best practice, potentially unlocking new collaborations and funding.

Future WFD delivery in the NWRBD

This project concluded in November 2023 and its success will continue to be demonstrated by Catchment Partnerships having a greater ability to access support and information to help with delivery, Catchment Partnerships continuing to meet and collaborate to have a greater understanding of issues and opportunities within their catchments and wider across the NWRBD, and ultimately supporting each other to deliver more so WFD delivery by Catchment Partnerships will increase in the long term.