Within 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.
Aukes, E. J., Lulofs, K. R. D., & Bressers, H. T. A. (2020). (Mis-)matching framing foci: Understanding policy consensus among coastal management frames. Ocean and Coastal Management, 197, 105286. https://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 Region. Sustainable Cities and Society, 55, 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 Park. Science of the Total Environment, 648, 56-65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.121
- CAtchment Strategies TOwards Resilience (CASTOR), 2021-2026
Functions of sandy-soil landscapes of the East and South Netherlands are threatened by climate change. The researchers identify climate-robust landscapes for the future, and design, together with government and societal partners, pathways towards these. CSTM reviews and redesigns relevant institutional rules contextualizing decision-making. An empirico-legal lens to analyze relevant decision contexts is used. The impact of applicable rules (laws, regulations and procedures) on decision-making upon steps towards sustainable and resilient water-land systems are assessed, and new institutional contexts are designed facilitating climate-resilient futures for sandy soil landscapes.
Boundary judgments and boundary-spanning capacity will be assessed. The project aims to design new institutional contexts that facilitate development and implementation of pathways of sequential steps towards climate-resilient futures for sandy soil landscapes.
- Governance innovations for a transition to sustainable and equitable water use in Europe (GOVAQUA), 2023-2027
A transition towards sustainable and equitable water use in Europe is urgently required to reconcile water uses and environmental needs. The Horizon Europe-funded GOVAQUA project conceptualises for the first time sustainability transition in water governance.
The project systematically analyses and compares existing water governance systems across Europe, focusing on water use and its impacts in agriculture, industries, energy production, water utilities and the role of citizens. GOVAQUA covers niche governance innovations in legislation and regulation, multi-stakeholder participation and collaboration, economics and finance, and digital solutions for information sharing.
CSTM analyses participatory and collaborative innovations for multi-stakeholder collaboration across levels and sectors as well as for the empowerment and involvement of citizens to develop recommendations and action perspectives to effectively implement participatory and collaborative approaches that contribute to sustainable and equitable water use at the EU and national levels. Good practices related to these are systematically reviewed, analysed and compared, and further co-developed, assessed and validated together with key stakeholders.
Six living labs participate in GOVAQUA: Crau aquifer (France), Kokemäenjoki river basin (Finland), Axarquía region (Spain), River Thames/Oxfordshire (UK), Dunavat/Danube Delta (Romania), and transnationally between Finland and Sweden. GOVAQUA delivers new knowledge, participatory tools and good practice guidelines laying out pathways towards sustainable and equitable water future.
Programme website: https://www.syke.fi/projects/govaqua
- Delta Lady: Floating Cultures in River Deltas (Interreg Europe programme) 2018-2023
The Delta Lady project focuses on river deltas in Europe and their potential to develop innovative activities aiming at utilization of local natural and cultural heritage. The aim is to improve the regional policy instruments that foster the capabilities of using ecosystem services in river deltas to strengthen regional economy. The delta regions are rich in biodiversity but poor financially. The challenge is how to foster the natural and cultural capabilities available from the past and to develop new experiences based on ecoservices in river deltas to boost regional economy. Six delta regions participate: Rhine delta (NL), Danube delta (RO), Camargue delta (FR), Albufera delta (ES), Po delta (IT) and River Blackwater delta (IE). Nine partners from six countries represent a mix of regional and local public authorities as well as education and research institutes.
Project website: https://www.interregeurope.eu/deltalady/
Krozer, Y. , Coenen, F., Hanganu, J. , Lordkipanidze, M., & Sbarcea, M. (2020). Towards innovative governance of nature areas. Sustainability (Switzerland), 12(24), . https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410624
- How to explain instrument selection in complex policy processes?
In 2010, the United Nations (UN) recognized the human right to water and sanitation (Resolution 64/292). This UN decision fortifies that water is a public good and that nobody can be excluded from its use. While it is in every individual’s interest to use water for drinking water purposes, for irrigation, as a sink for wastewater, a means of transport, or for leisure activities, its overuse is an inherent collective action problem that affects us all. Public policymaking takes a particularly important role regarding the protection of water quality, as it can help to overcome problems of collective action. The present study therefore analyzes the way in which the political realm handles a new challenge of water protection policy, namely aquatic micropollutants.
Micropollutants are chemical substances present in very small concentrations in waters. The significance of reducing emissions into waters can be attributed to the fact that even very low concentrations of micropollutants can cause severe environmental impacts, and further impacts on humans can be expected. Finding ways to reduce micropollutants in waters is a relevant— but also a complex—political task because of the diversity of substances, uses, discharges, and effects. Due to the complexity of the issue, finding political solutions that comprehensively reduce micropollutants in waters is challenging. In order to understand how different countries respond to this challenge, this project compares the politics of water protection policies in the Rhine riparian countries, i.e., Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
Schaub, S. , & Metz, F. A. (2020). Comparing Discourse and Policy Network Approaches: Evidence from Water Policy on Micropollutants. Politics and Governance, 8(2), 184-199. https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v8i2.2597
Ingold, K., Varone, F., Kammerer, M., Metz, F. A., Kammerman, L., & Strotz, C. (2020). Are responses to official consultations and stakeholder surveys reliable guides to policy actors positions? Policy Politics, 48(2), 193-222. https://doi.org/10.1332/030557319X15613699478503
- 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.
Project website: https://northsearegion.eu/c5a/
- '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.
Winthin CATCH, CSTM developed a tool to support urban planners and decisionmakers in climate change adaptation. The tool A Stepwise Method for Midsize Cities to Identify, Assess and Value Ecosystem Services covers options ranging from basic activities to more advanced options.
Project website: http://www.northsearegion.eu/catch/
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 Region. Sustainable Cities and Society, 55, 102066. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102066
Dolman, N., Lulofs, K., Özerol, G., Bormann, H., Böge, M., & Bressers, H. (2020). Transitie naar de waterbewuste stad: Omgaan met verstedelijking, waterbeheer en klimaatverandering. Water Governance, (3), 37-44.
- Accelerating Climate Change Adaptation in the Cities of Overijssel, the Netherlands (CATCH+)
The CATCH+ project focuses on climate change adaptation (CCA) in the cities of the Province of Overijssel, the Netherlands. Collaborating partners are the province of Overijssel, the regional water authority of Vechtstromen, the municipalities of Zwolle and Enschede, Saxion University of Applied Sciences and the University of Twente. The project partners build on the knowledge and tools that they developed within the CATCH project and tailor them to the Dutch context and the needs of the small and midsize cities in Overijssel. Special emphasis is given to the design and implementation of ‘risk dialogues’ as part of the Delta Plan on Spatial Adaptation. Main activities of the project involve the analysis of different approaches to stakeholder participation in CCA, a self-assessment by cities on their CCA capacity and actions, and the identification of training needs and opportunities for cities towards improving their CCA capacity.
Project website: https://klimaatadaptatienederland.nl/%40247241/catch/
- Governance of Vital and Climate robust Soils and Water Systems (Lumbricus), 2015-2021
Lumbricus is a knowledge program in which knowledge institutions, water boards, and entrepreneurs, together with farmers, conduct research into a climate-robust soil and water system. The program is divided into knowledge themes and two pilot locations in the east and the south of the Netherlands.
The theme of the sub-program that UT-CSTM developed and supervised was ‘Goede Governance’. In this subprogram, the "how" questions are addressed as:
- How do we connect the different powers and roles in the care of soil and water?
- How to bridge we see the gaps between water and soil management and the other policy areas that are relevant and how do we connect stakeholders, interests and views?
- How do we divide roles, how do we give users and market parties a more prominent role in it soil and water management?
- How do we get from separate (innovative) measures towards an integrated and area-oriented approach?
In the test location East UT, CSTM researched how adverse impacts from decentralization could be navigated by building a new coalition. In location South UT, CSTM assessed adverse impacts from regulatory and procedural settings, also addressing how these could be navigated.
Lumbricus programme website: https://www.programmalumbricus.nl
H. Bressers & N. Bressers (2017), Governance assessment rapport Ruimte voor de Vecht.
- 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 Israeli control and occupation, increasing demand, economic development, population growth, climate change, and pollution from untreated wastewater. The Palestinian water sector should transform to meet these challenges. 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 of PADUCO are transdisciplinarity that engages universities, 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 and six education-based activities. Upon the successful completion of the first phase, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved the second phase of PADUCO (2016-2020), which included a total of 21 projects.
CSTM has been the Netherlands country coordinator of PADUCO starting from its initiation, and contributed to six research and capacity building projects on water governance, wastewater reuse, and gender mainstreaming in applied water research.
Programme website: http://www.paduco.ps
Schillinger, J., Swaity, M., Abushaban, I., Abualtayef, M., Özerol, G., (2019). Conflict impacts on local water management in the Gaza Strip. Environmental Peacebuilding Conference, Irvine, US.
Özerol, G., Schillinger, J. & Abu-Madi, M. (2018). Transdisciplinary research and development cooperation: Insights from the first phase of the Palestinian-Dutch Academic Cooperation Programme on Water, Water. 10(10), 1449. https://doi.org/10.3390/w10101449
Al-Khatib, N., Shoqeir, J. A. H., Özerol, G. & Majaj, L. (2017). Governing the reuse of treated wastewater in irrigation: the case study of Jericho, Palestine. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 16(1-3), 135-148. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJGENVI.2017.083424
Judeh, T., Haddad, M. & Özerol, G. (2017). Assessment of water governance in the West Bank, Palestine. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 16(1-3), 119-134. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJGENVI.2017.083426
Thawaba, S., Abu-Madi, M. & Özerol, G. (2017). Effect of land-use/land-cover change on the future of rainfed agriculture in the Jenin Governorate, Palestine. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 16(1-3), 176-189. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJGENVI.2017.083428
- NatureCoast: The role of framing in decision-making leading to sandy solutions, 2013-2018
NatureCoast was a multidisciplinary NWO-STW research program consisting of 12 PhD’s and three Postdocs involving six universities in The Netherlands, this refers to one of the UT PhD projects. The program started in April 2013 and ran until 2018. The research focuses on the Sand Motor case, an artificial hook-shaped peninsula close to The Hague.
CSTM shaped and supervised the governance research that included two PhDs and a Post doc. This particular project studied framing of hybrid sandy solutions in decision making processes. As well as the roles of arguments and policy entrepreneurs in this. In a comparative analysis of three cases some framing processes contributed to such coalition forming (“convergent”), and some processes detracted from it (“divergent”). Both types of processes can be employed deliberately. However, these processes also occur subconsciously in the natural manner of communication among humans through framing. Due to more and more convergent meaning-making, the coalition advocating mega-nourishment schemes stabilized on different governmental levels and in different sectors. This has leading to broad acceptance of mega-nourishment schemes in Dutch coastal management and abroad. The project and dissertation of dr. Ewert Aukes showed that it is relevant to study how interpretations – in times when opinions challenge scientific findings – influence the categorization of knowledge as ‘questionable’ or ‘undisputed’. Think of the way in which high-ranking politicians doubt the existence of climate change.
Aukes, E. J. (2017), Framing coastal squeeze: Understanding the integration of Mega-nourishment schemes into the Dutch coastal management solutions repertoire: An interpretive analysis of coastal management processes, Enschede: University of Twente. 327 p.
Aukes, E. J. , Lulofs, K. R. D. , & Bressers, H. T. A. 2020. (Mis-)matching framing foci: Understanding policy consensus among coastal management frames. Ocean and Coastal Management. 197, 105286
Aukes, E. J., Lulofs, K. R. D., & Bressers, H. T. A. Framing mechanisms: the interpretive policy entrepreneur’s toolbox. Critical Policy Studies 12 (4), 406-427
Aukes, E. J., Bontje, L. E. & Slinger, J. H. (2020), Narrative and Frame Analysis: Disentangling and Refining Two Close Relatives by Means of a Large Infrastructural Technology Case, Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung (FQS). 21, 2, 18 p., 28.
- Benefits of governance in drought adaptation (DROP), 2012-2015
Water 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 has been implemented through collaboration between six regional water authorities (practice partners) and five knowledge institutes (knowledge partners).
Based on six regional cases developed by the practice partners, the knowledge partners assessed the governance context of the cases, addressing drought from drinking water, nature conservation and agricultural perspectives. CSTM researchers both coordinated the development of a governance assessment tool and the application of the tool in two Dutch cases that focused on the Twente and Salland regions.
Bressers, J. T. A., Bressers, N., Browne, A., Furusho, C., La Jeunesse, I., Larrue, C., Özerol, G., Ramos, M.-H., Stein, U., Tröltzsch, J., & Vidaurre, R. (2015). Benefit of Governance in Drought Adaptation – Governance Assessment Guide.
Özerol, G. (2019). National and Local Actors of Drought Governance in Europe: A Comparative Review of Six Cases from North‐West Europe. In I. La Jeunesse, & C. Larrue (Eds.), Facing Hydrometeorological Extreme Events: A Governance Issue (pp. 171-188). John Wiley and Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119383567.ch12
Bressers, J. T. A., Bressers, N., & Larrue, C. (2016). Governance for drought resilience: Land and water drought management in Europe. Springer Nature. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-3-319-29671-5.pdf