From water boards to ‘climate boards’? : Opportunities and threats for strategic repositioning in times of crises

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Abstract

Dutch water boards are commonly viewed as important player in making the Netherlands climate-proof, resonating in calls to transform water boards into ‘climate boards’. Upcoming legislative changes (i.e. the Environment and Planning Act) stress the importance of integrated approaches, emphasizing spatial quality and collaboration. Dutch water boards are therefore in a strategic repositioning process, in which the relation to the spatial planning domain stands central. The institutions’ adaptation process started already in the 1990s, yet the urgency of the current climate crisis makes it more pressing. However, strategic repositioning might be hampered due to the corona crisis. An acute crisis can absorb all attention and thereby impede a long-term transition. The question is, though, if this also applies to the water boards, as they do not have a primary responsibility in combatting Covid-19. Based on a framing analysis of strategic position papers and interviews with water board employees, we shed light on this repositioning process by identifying the water boards’ new ‘mission mystique’ and accompanying opportunities and dilemmas. We conclude that water boards remain rather cautious in living up to their new mission of a proactive partner in integrated planning; they could use their strong reputation as water authorities to act more courageous in climate-related spatial planning decisions.
Translated title of the contributionFrom water boards to ‘climate boards’? : Opportunities and threats for strategic repositioning in times of crises
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)41-51
Number of pages11
JournalBestuurskunde
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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