Scope & Objectives

Scope and Objectives


Agriculture provides food, fibre, energy, and, last but not least, it provides a living for many people around the world. The potential drawback of agricultural production is pollution of the terrestrial and aquatic environment by nutrients, pesticides, trace elements, anti-biotics, and natural and synthetic hormones. Growth in agricultural production, as it has occurred in Europe and North America since 1950s, and more recently in many other parts of the world, threatens the quality of groundwater and surface waters or has already led to deterioration of the quality of these waters. Typical hotspot areas with problems occur in Denmark, the Netherlands, northern Italy, Germany, France, China, USA and New Zealand.

Policies to abate deterioration of water quality have been developed and programmes of measures to improve water quality have been implemented. For example, the European Union has adopted directives that should result in a good quality of all waters by 2027 (Nitrates Directive in 1991, Water Framework Directive in 2000). Experiences of the last 15 to 25 years indicate that it will be a great challenge to realise these objectives in the remaining years. Nevertheless, the European Commission monitors compliance with these directives and several Member States have been forced through the European Court of Justice to amend their national legislation, for example the Netherlands in 2003, France in 2013/2014 and, more recently, Germany in 2018. In other parts of the world, e.g. in New Zealand, the government has initiated a national science challenge to improve land and water quality. Recently, California and other USA states have also implemented laws that should control water pollution, amongst others, by agriculture. Nevertheless it is has become clear that realisation of the objectives of these policies gets more difficult, not only since the easy, low cost measures already have been implemented, but also because there is a pressure to increase agricultural production. For example, the government of New Zealand strives to increase agricultural production and at the same time improve water quality. Is such a twin aim a realistic one? In addition, other policies, for example to abate climate change, may affect land use and thereby water quality. Are we aware of potential conflicting policies? Countries use different approaches to implement measures, which approach works best? Should measures be enforced by law (top down) or implemented on a voluntary basis (bottom up)? Experiences show that the latter means a long term investment in building relation, gaining trust and raising awareness. Do we have time? These are some of the issues that are addressed at LuWQ2021.

LuWQ2021 is the follow-up to the successful LuWQ conferences, LuWQ2019 held in Aarhus, Denmark in June 2019, LuWQ2017 held in The Hague, the Netherlands, in June 2017, LuWQ2015 held in Vienna, Austria, in September 2015 and the LuWQ2013 conference held in The Hague, the Netherlands, in June 2013. The LuWQ conferences have their origin in the series of so-called international MonNO3 workshops focusing on monitoring the effectiveness of the Nitrates Directive action programmes. The first MoNO3 workshop  was held in The Hague in 2003 and the second MonNO3 workshop took place in Amsterdam in 2009.


This conference aims to discuss the entire ’policy cycle’ to enable enhancing the quality of the water environment, which includes problem recognition, formulation of technical options, policy formulation, interaction between policy makers and stakeholders (i.e. pressure groups), policy implementation, monitoring and research. The conference also aims to facilitate networking opportunities between scientists of different disciplines i.e. economic, social and natural sciences, as well as between scientists, water managers and policy makers.

In short, the objectives are to:

  • provide a forum for exchange of scientific knowledge, research to better understand ’systems function’, modelling and uncertainty;
  • discuss the entire policy cycle for water quality improvement; and
  • to intensify contacts (a) between soil/water related scientists, agro related scientists, social scientists, ecological scientists and economists, and (b) between scientists, water managers and policy makers.

Conference target groups and keywords

Target groups (professionals, fields of expertise, audience) are scientists, managers and policy makers involved in the policy cycle for water quality improvement.

The conference deals with themes and topics characterised by the following keywords:

Keywords for fields of expertise and scientific disciplines: agronomy, agro-economics, agro-sociology, water management, water policy, action plan, river basin management plan, hydrology, soil science, drinking water supply, data analyses (including data sharing).

Keywords for system description: aquatic ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems, unsaturated zone, groundwater, surface waters, monitoring, modelling, chemical water quality, biological water quality, nitrate vulnerable zones, river basins, catchments.

Keywords for best management practices: buffer zones, sedimentation ponds, constructed wetlands, incorporation of fertilisers, catch crops, erosion control, cost effectiveness.

Keywords for policies and implementation: voluntary measures, laws and regulations, participatory governance, top down versus bottom up, building relationships, gaining trust, raising awareness, evidence based approach.

Keywords for substances: nutrients, nitrate, phosphorus, pesticides and other organic agrochemicals, heavy metals.