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E3) Understanding knowledge arrangements

Start: 08/2018
End: 08/2022
Status: Active

Contact details

Martijn van Staveren

Wageningen University

Expected outcome

This project will yield insights into why and how combining different kinds of knowledge can be beneficial for designing effective and accepted flood risk management interventions.

Grebbedijk is a project between Rhenen and Wageningen in which the Regional Water Authority works with multiple stakeholders to decide the preferred combination of dike reinforcements as well as spatial planning measures (Photo by Martijn van Staveren).

Motivation and practical challenge

Dealing with flood risks in densely populated and low-lying deltas is one of the global challenges for a sustainable future. From earlier research projects I learned that various forms of knowledge can contribute to improved flood risk management. This includes government guidelines and norms, engineering sciences, but also local ideas on spatial planning. Although sometimes depicted as competitors, various knowledge forms can contribute to better grounded but also more accepted flood risk management interventions. However, project managers often struggle to combine knowledge without overstepping boundaries of efficiency, formality, and ownership. Enaging actively with stakeholders also creates expectations. In short, it is important to balance formal roles and responsibilities with constructive engagement with stakeholders involved in a dike reinforcement initiative.

Research challenge

The main challenge is to investigate to which extent knowledge arrangements, designed to engage different forms of flood risk management, are in place, and to provide recommendations for knowledge integration.

Innovative components

The innovative approach is to look at the existence of knowledge arrangements, and assess in which ways this helps to engage with different kinds of knowledge in flood risk management. It is relevant to mention that the project is not set up as an evaluation study. Rather, it aims to identify lessons learned and provide recommendations obtained by other research conducted, case studies, etc. In terms of methodology, the project has enabled to look at way knowledge arrangements are shaped during a prolonged project development trajectory: from exploratory studies, to participatory work, designing options, to a final decision making step.

Overview of the innovative components including (1) policy arrangements such as actors' coalitions, rules and regulations, resource and capacities, and discourses as well as (2) different kinds of knowledge. Source of the preferred alternative Ga voor de Grebbedijk Nota Voorkeursalternatief (2019).

Relevant for whom and where?

The specific recommendations are useful for project managers but the general insights are also relevant for the wider stakeholder network involved in, or interesting to engage in, flood risk management initiatives.

The Grebbedijk dike reinforcement in Wageningen is the main location studied on this research.

Progress and practical application

Local knowledge is obtained via participatory processes. A sometimes slightly ‘overlooked’ form of knowledge is spatial planning and visual designing. These disciplines have the challenge task to turn discussions and explorations into practical options and visual presentations of flood risk management interventions.

Status for day-to-day practice

Approach and appreciate different forms of knowledge on their potential contribution to better flood risk management interventions.

Next steps

Not applicable yet.

Last modified: 24/12/2020

Contributing researchers

Martijn van Staveren

Wageningen University

Supervisory team Matthijs Kok

Delft University of Technology

Contributing partners

Project outputs

Commentary: Dike Relocation from an Environmental Policy Perspective

The Elbe-Brandenburg biosphere reserve in Germany is a dike relocation project that became a nature-based solution. This commentary highlights the importance of a structured participation via a series of funded projects to keep relevant actors on board.

23/08/2019 by Martijn van Staveren et al.

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Bevat: Publication open access journal


What is the legal transition about?

18/06/2020 by Monica Lanz

Following the blog about the risk-based approach, here we provide insights into the coming 'Omgevingswet' or Environment and Planning Act. This new framework makes...

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Your opinion matters to understand the governance of flood protection projects - Ongoing survey

28/09/2020 by Emma Avoyan

Are you currently involved you in or have knowledge about one the projects of Dutch Flood Protection Program (HWBP in Dutch)? Then, you can...

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