Between adaptability and the urge to control: making long-term water policies in the Netherlands

Restemeyer, B., van den Brink, M. & Woltjer, J., 2017, In : Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 60, 5, p. 920-940 21 p.

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Triggered by recent flood catastrophes and increasing concerns about climate change, scientists as well as policy-makers increasingly call for making long-term water policies to enable a transformation towards flood resilience. A key question is how to make these long-term policies adaptive so that they are able to deal with uncertainties and changing circumstances. The paper proposes three conditions for making long-term water policies adaptive, which are then used to evaluate a new Dutch water policy approach called Adaptive Delta Management'. Analysing this national policy approach and its translation to the Rotterdam region reveals that Dutch policy-makers are torn between adaptability and the urge to control. Reflecting on this dilemma, the paper suggests a stronger focus on monitoring and learning to strengthen the adaptability of long-term water policies. Moreover, increasing the adaptive capacity of society also requires a stronger engagement with local stakeholders including citizens and businesses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-940
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • adaptive policies, strategic planning, flood risk management, flood resilience, Dutch water management, CLIMATE-CHANGE, MANAGEMENT, RESILIENCE, UNCERTAINTY, ADAPTATION, GOVERNANCE, SYSTEMS, WORLD, CITY

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