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F3) Collaborative governance in floodplain management

Start: 04/2014
End: 04/2016
Status: Inactive

Contact details

Jan Fliervoet

Radboud University Nijmegen

Download here the summary poster and the PhD thesis related to this project.

A flooded floodplain of the river Waal in 2012, which also functions as a nature reserve (Source: Jan Fliervoet).

Project output

Insights and recommendations concerning collaborative interactions in Dutch floodplain maintenance, to help improve future collaborative initiatives.


The governance of maintaining multifunctional floodplains has become rather complex due to the diversity of actors and sectors involved, each with their own frames and stakes. In the context of integrated river basin management, maintenance is also complicated by long-term perspectives, changing actor configurations, fragmented properties and declining state budgets. Despite a broad recognition of the importance of collaboration, in practice it appears very difficult to give shape to collaborative governance.

Key goals: Collaborative Governance

Infographic of research, including study area, analyzing collaborative processes and social network analysis. The study area is on the location of the 'Waalweelde' program in The Netherlands. Source: Adapted from Figure 1 in Fliervoet et al (2016)

Innovative components

Most studies look into technical aspects of integrated river basin management, much less have focused on the social processes that are needed to sustain effective and integrated collaboration in floodplain maintenance. This project dove into the underlying visions, frames and relationships among stakeholders as follows:

  • A framing analysis is used to explore the opportunities and barriers for collaborative governance;
  • By using a social network analysis, collaborative relations are made visible;
  • A joint maintenance approach is developed, which seeks a balance between top-down and bottom-up decision making, promotes flexible budgets and time limits, and emphasizes the importance of learning through debate-oriented processes.

For whom and where?

Policy makers, coordinators, advisors working in public /governmental organizations and consultancies in:

  • Regions around the world where floodplain maintenance includes having multiple functions and (thereby) deal with multiple public and private actors;
  • Dutch locations that where river interventions have been realized and are now turning to the maintenance phase.
  • Any professional or researcher interested in the governance of river management in the Netherlands.

Data-collection methods: Focus groups Interviews Questionnaires/ surveys

Temporal scale: Project duration

Application and findings

By analyzing stakeholders frames with regard to maintaining multi-functional floodplains, we learned that:

  • Stakeholders use diverse frames with regard to collaborative objectives;
  • Despite well-connected networks within floodplain management, only a few collaborative relationships exist between organizations focusing on either flood protection or nature management goals.
  • An integrated planning approach has not been incorporated into the maintenance strategies and programs, inter alia by the lack of an integrated vision of floodplain maintenance;
  • 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.

Status for day-to-day practice

This research illustrates the complexity of collaborative governance in maintaining Dutch floodplains and the need to increase dialogue between parties to understand each others frames and perspectives.

Key locations where this study took place.

Key locations: Rhine River (NL) Waal River (NL)

Spatial scale: River section

Next steps

These insights are to be used in other projects that need to start thinking about the maintenance phase of river-floodplain projects. For example, a joint maintenance approach will be performed in the planning phase of redeveloping the floodplains of the Rivierklimaatpark IJsselpoort.

Last updated: 10/02/2020

Explore the contact details to get to know more about the researchers, the supervisory team and the organizations that contribute to this project.

Main researcher

Jan Fliervoet

Radboud University Nijmegen

Supervisory team

dr. Riyan van den Born

Radboud University Nijmegen

Prof.dr. Toine Smits

Radboud University Nijmegen

Contributing partners

As soon as available, explore the storyline to get to know more about the main methods or prototype tools that were developed within this project.

A social network analysis in maintaining Dutch floodplains

Most frequent connections between the organizations involved in flood protection and biodiversity management with and without the main coordinator.

Jan Fliervoet

Radboud University Nijmegen

View storyline

Explore the output details for available publications to get a glance of the innovative components and implications to practice as well as the links to supporting datasets.

Project outputs

A stakeholder’s evaluation of collaborative processes for maintaining multi-functional floodplains: a Dutch case study

30/01/2017 by Jan Fliervoet et al.

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From implementation towards maintenance: sustaining collaborative initiatives for integrated floodplain management in the Netherlands

this article explores how stakeholders shape collaborative initiatives aimed at maintaining multifunctional floodplains.

06/07/2016 by Jan Fliervoet et al.

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Contains: Publication open access

Analyzing collaborative governance through Social Network Analysis

We mapped the connections between organizations involved in flood protection and nature management in the Waal River and explored the consequences of abolishing the central actor in these networks.

01/09/2015 by Jan Fliervoet et al.

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Contains: Dataset upon request

Take a look to the dissemination efforts and application experiences which are available in the news items and blogs.


Framing collaborative governance: Looking back and forward this PhD journey

12/03/2018 by Jan Fliervoet

First RiverCare PhD thesis. An interdisciplinary journey to understand the framing on the maintenance of Dutch floodplains.

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PlanSmart + RiverCare = Smart River Symposium

In order to exchange experiences between the two projects, researchers of the German PlanSmart project and the Dutch RiverCare project, as well as invited guests met on the 19th and 20th of June 2018 in Hannover.

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RiverCare meeting room


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