Around the world, governments have implemented integrated river management projects to realize multi-functional floodplains which support flood protection, nature restoration, recreation and agricultural activities. This integrated approach increased collaborative arrangements between diverse levels, sectors and actors in the planning and implementation phase, also called collaborative governance. Now that the implementation of the projects is about to be finalized, a new phase is called for, the floodplain maintenance phase. Maintaining multi-functional floodplains includes several tasks, such as monitoring, developing ecological infrastructure and coordination of maintenance activities. However, it is unclear how collaboration will continue in the maintenance phase. This project explored the underlying visions, frames and relationships among stakeholders in the context of collaborative governance. This has resulted in recommendations to improve collaborative initiatives to maintain flood protection and nature goals in an integrated way.
Management phase: Evaluation & Adjustment | Implementation & Monitoring | Intervention Planning |
Management goals: Coordination & cooperation | Stakeholder participation |
The aim of this research is to explore and describe the complexity of the current collaborative interactions between governmental and non-governmental actors with regard to the maintenance of Dutch floodplains to understand barriers and opportunities for collaborative governance.
Temporal scale: Project milestones |
- A social network analysis was used that focus on flood protection and/or nature objectives in the context of floodplain maintenance to get insight in the actor relations and the level of intensity of their collaborations.
- Based on interviews, we explored regional stakeholder’s frames with respect to the incentives for collaboration, the collaborative process itself, distribution of tasks and outcomes about collaborative maintenance. All respondents were involved in a pilot project, called the “Rijnwaardense Uiterwaarden”, which dealt with setting up a new collaborative process for integrated floodplain management, but was unsuccessful in realizing collaboration.
- To understand how stakeholders construct the meaning of collaborative objectives and structures in an interactive setting, we analyzed video recordings of workshops and meetings with regard to integrated floodplain management.
Data-collection methods: Focus groups | Interviews | Questionnaires/ surveys |
- Referring to the collaborations between flood protection and nature actors the analysis showed that both networks were heterogeneous and well-connected. Additionally, only a few ties existed between the flood protection group and the nature organizations. This fragmentation has been increased by the discontinuation of a public coordinator which represented one of those links.
- From the analysis of collaboration objectives and membership structures, the stakeholders envisioned a structure that reflected a clear separation between public and private actors. However, such a structure is complex due to the diversity of collaborative objectives held by the stakeholders.
- Analysis of an unsuccessful case study showed the lack of a strategy to integrate the collaborative processes on the organizational and action level. Moreover, underlying conflicting perspectives on collaborative maintenance, an economic perspective versus a perspective of collaboration with a platform of local nature organizations, obstructed effective collaborative governance aimed at maintaining multi-functional floodplains.
- To solve the tension between a desire for multi-stakeholder participation and the fragmented reality, we suggest to follow a joint maintenance approach in the current collaborative processes to maintain Dutch floodplains.
- The use of interactive tools, that focus on understanding locally based frames and enhance shared responsibility, are recommended to accelerate and support collaborative processes.
Key study areas: Waal River (The Netherlands)
Governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in maintaining the floodplains of the WaalWeelde program and location of the case study “Rijnwaardense Uiterwaarden”.
Last modified: 17/06/2018
dr. Riyan van den Born
Prof.dr. Toine Smits
From implementation towards maintenance: sustaining collaborative initiatives for integrated floodplain management in the Netherlands
06/07/2016 by Jan Fliervoet et al.
Contains: Journal publication
Analyzing Collaborative Governance Through Social Network Analysis: A Case Study of River Management Along the Waal River in The Netherlands
01/09/2015 by Jan Fliervoet et al.
Contains: Data repository upon request Journal publication
Fliervoet, J. M. (2017). Framing Collaborative Governance: New approaches for maintaining Dutch floodplains (PhD Thesis). Radboud University, Nijmegen. 199 pages. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2066/178609
Warner, J.F., Fliervoet, J.M., Smits, A.J.M. (2016), Towards a joint maintenance approach for floodplain management in the Netherlands: tensions and possibilities, In: R.D. Margerum, C.J. Robinson, The Challenges of Collaboration in Environmental Governance: Barriers and Responses, Edward Elgar publishing, UK, 424 pages.
Fliervoet, J. M., & van den Born, R. J. G. (2016). From implementation towards maintenance: sustaining collaborative initiatives for integrated floodplain management in the Netherlands. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/07900627.2016.1200962
Fliervoet, J.M., Geerling, G.W., Mostert, E. and Smits, A.J.M. (2016), Analyzing Collaborative Governance Through Social Network Analysis: A Case Study of River Management Along the Waal River in The Netherlands, Environmental Management, 57: 355, doi:10.1007/s00267-015-0606-x.
Fliervoet, J.M., Geerling, G.W., Mostert, E. and Smits, A.J.M. (2015), Analyzing collaborative relationships regarding floodplain management through social network analysis: a Dutch case study, . In: H.J.R. Lenders, F.P.L. Collas, G.W. Geerling, R.S.E.W. Leuven (Eds.). Bridging gaps between river science, governance and management. Book of abstracts NCR-days 2015, NCR Publication 39-2015, 1-2 October 2015, Radboud University, Nijmegen, pp. 45-47.