Logo of the Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean water and sanitationWithin the water management and governance theme we seek to understand and advance scientific and societal efforts in ensuring the sustainability and resilience of water resources and water services. Our research brings together cutting-edge and interdisciplinary studies across three main topics, covering both the Global South and the Global North: (1) nature-based solutions to water and climate change challenges, (2) assessment of water governance regimes and water policy instruments, and (3) climate change adaptation and resilience.

The diversity and interdependency of sectors, scales and timeframes that characterize societies prevail in all water systems. The question of how to cope with these complexities and dynamics by governance strategies enabling boundary spanning and collaboration is the core of the scientific focus of this research theme. This manifests in research projects on behavioural, organizational and institutional drivers for transitional change in water systems, water uses and water technologies. We engage with multiple theoretical frameworks and concepts, including theories on the policy process, network analysis, institutional analysis, multi-level governance, innovation and diffusion theory, and public participation.

Adopting a transdisciplinarity approach, our research projects often involve collaboration with governmental authorities, communities and the industry. We cooperate with internal and external stakeholders making the UT a ‘civic university’, through regional experimentation and innovation with stakeholder platforms and similar configurations in local, national, regional and international networks. 

Our educational commitment involves training next generation change agents in the water track of the international Master’s in Environmental and Energy Management (MEEM), with students from all over the world. This contributes to capacity development for responsible and sustainable solutions, building on UT Shaping 2030 mission and targeting both urban and rural water management from a multi-level, multi-sectoral approach.

Key publications

Aukes, E. J. , Lulofs, K. R. D. , & Bressers, H. T. A. (2020). (Mis-)matching framing foci: Understanding policy consensus among coastal management framesOcean and Coastal Management, 197, 105286https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2020.105286

Özerol, G., Dolman, N., Bormann, H. , Bressers, H. , Lulofs, K., & Böge, M. (2020). Urban water management and climate change adaptation: A self-assessment study by seven midsize cities in the North Sea RegionSustainable Cities and Society55, 102066. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102066

Lordkipanidze, M. , Lulofs, K. , & Bressers, H. (2019). Towards a new model for the governance of the Weerribben-Wieden National ParkScience of the Total Environment648, 56-65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.121

Current projects

  • 'water sensitive Cities: the Answer To CHallenges of extreme weather events' (CATCH), 2017-2021

    In the North Sea Region, a majority of the population lives in midsize cities. Due to their scale, limited resources and expertise, the midsize cities face specific challenges to deal with climate adaptation. The CATCH project aims to enhance the climate resilience of midsize cities in the North Sea Region through demonstrating and accelerating the redesign of their urban water management. Project partners include municipalities, local water authorities and universities from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden. Key activities involve a benchmarking and needs assessment study to identify the current status of the seven pilot cities, the co-creation of decision support tools by the practice partners and universities, and the formulation of climate adaptation strategies for pilot cities. CSTM represents the University of Twente within CATCH through the involvement of Dr. Gül Özerol, Prof. Hans Bressers and Dr. Kris Lulofs.


  • Cluster for Cloud to Coast Climate Change Adaptation (C5a), 2019-2022

    The North Sea Region is facing a significant increase in the frequency and severity of floods in response to climate change. Flood management approaches need to urgently adapt to this new reality to keep people safe, the environment healthy and our economies prosperous. To respond to this challenge, the project 'Cluster for Cloud to Coast Climate Change adaptation' (C5a) aims to deliver a cloud-to-coast approach for the management of flood risk, known as the C2C approach. Combining the outcomes of seven ongoing Interreg North Sea Region projects, the C5a project will ensure an approach that is both evidence-based and practice-based. Project partners include ten partners from six countries, and the project runs from 2019 to 2021. The project is co-funded by the North Sea Region Programme 2014 - 2020. CSTM contributes to lead the work package on applying the C2C approach in practice through the seven case studies in Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and the UK. In the project, Dr. Gül Özerol, Prof. Hans Bressers and Dr. Erwin Nugraha represent the CSTM.

    For more information, please see: https://northsearegion.eu/c5a/

  • Governance of Vital and Climate robust Soils and Water Systems (Lumbricus), 2015-2021

    More information to come soon

  • Delta Lady: Floating Cultures in River Deltas (Interreg Europe programme) 2018-2023

    More information to come soon

Selection of past projects

  • Benefits of governance in drought adaptation (DROP), 2012-2015

    DROP logoWater scarcity and drought are on the increase and expected to aggravate further due to climate change. Early actions are required to adapt to these changes. The transnational project ’Benefit of governance in DROught adaPtation (DROP)’ aims to enhance the preparedness and resilience of Northwest European (NWE) regions to such periods of drought and water scarcity. Transnational collaboration helps to achieve these objectives by developing better solutions in a more efficient manner. DROP is a transnational project and integrates knowledge from science, policy and practice. The project was implemented through collaboration between six regional water authorities (practice partners) and five knowledge institutes (knowledge partners).

    DROP Governance Assessment Guide (PDF)

  • Nature-driven nourishment of coastal systems (NatureCoast), 2012-2017

    The Sand Motor pilot project is a concentrated 21 Mm3 shore nourishment (i.e. sand deposition) at the Delfland coast (NL). This unprecedented experiment aims to protect the hinterland from flooding by letting natural processes distribute sand over shoreface, beach and dunes, thus constituting a climate-robust and environmentally friendly way of coastal protection.

    NatureCoast logo

  • Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation Program on Water (PADUCO), 2013-2020

    Water resources in Palestine are under increasing stress due to a combination of factors, such as increasing demand, economic development, population growth, climate change, and pollution from untreated wastewater. The Palestinian water sector is therefore to adapt drastically in order to meet the challenges ahead. Against this background, PADUCO has been established in 2012 by five Palestinian and five Dutch universities with the objective of contributing to a self-sustaining, self-reliant Palestinian water sector in terms of institution building, resource management and improved service delivery. The two underlying principles that are adopted within PADUCO are transdisciplinarity that engages knowledge institutes, government, civil society and private organizations in applied research; and intersectorality that addresses the linkages of water with environment, agriculture, energy, land use and climate change.

    Within the first phase (2013-2016), the PADUCO team carried out eleven joint research projects, reviewed the possibility for establishing a PhD program on water, assessed existing education and training programs, and implemented six joint activities to improve the educational and training capacities. Upon the successful completion of the first phase, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved the second phase of PADUCO from 2016-2020.

    CSTM has been the national coordinator of PADUCO since its initiation, and involved in numerous research projects and education activities.