Governance evaluation of current Dutch water programmes

Water Governance and Climate

Room for the River, Flood Protection Programme 2 and Maas River

Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

The Netherlands is a country that is world-renowned for its water safety programmes and is constantly working to improve its water safety. In his keynote speech at International Water Week in Amsterdam in 2015, Delta Commissioner Wim Kuijken explained how the complex Delta Programme contributes to a safe and attractive Netherlands. He stated that it is paramount for an effective organisation of water safety to incorporate spatial planning and freshwater supply, and for there to be synergies and a shared vision of priorities at national, regional and local levels of government. On the basis that water safety will be more integral to spatial policy, it is important that it is placed in the context of spatial adaptation.


The programme

For effective future policy, it is important to consider the lessons learned and barriers overcome in current water safety programmes. As such, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment indicated its intention to carry out a policy evaluation in 2016 of the current implementation programme of three major programmes: Room for the River, Flood Protection Programme 2, and Maas River. The Ministry hoped to gather learnings from these programmes for the benefit of future flood safety programmes. The three water safety programmes differ significantly from one another, these vast differences increasing the value of a comparative analysis.


On the basis of its expertise and experience in water management, Twynstra led a consortium to conduct this evaluation. This policy evaluation incorporated five main themes of analysis:

  • More than the main objective of water safety: how the programme benefits nature, recreation, housing, infrastructure, etc.
  • Citizen participation: involvement, collaborative communication in society
  • Conflicting interests: (policy) frameworks/barriers/bottlenecks
  • Philosophy and culture: context and choices that lead to the framework of a flood safety programme
  • Governance: management and finance, task-driven, programme management, implementation and elaboration of different financing arrangements (e.g. contracts, subsidy, co-financing, self-realisation) (shifting) roles and responsibilities between the Ministry, Rijkswaterstaat (an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) and regional governments, cooperation.

Twynstra’s role

Twynstra was the prime contractor on behalf of the consortium and led the mission, having identified the specific experience and expertise in relation to the themes.