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Path-dependency and policy learning in the Dutch delta: toward more resilient flood risk management in the Netherlands?

Arwin van Buuren, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Gerald Jan Ellen, Deltares, The Netherlands
Jeroen F. Warner, Wageningen University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08765-210443

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Abstract

Dutch flood management policy was for a long time dominated by a protection-oriented approach. However, in the last 10 years a more risk-oriented approach has gained ground, denoted by the introduction of the concept of multilayered safety in 2009 in the National Water Plan. Since then, the dominant policy coalition focusing on resistance has found itself competing with a growing community that emphasizes the importance of resilience.
In this paper we analyze the process of policy learning in Dutch flood risk management toward a more resilient paradigm, and the resulting outcomes in terms of regime change and stability. To understand the actual degree of change we unpack the mechanisms of path dependency characterizing the current flood policy regime and how they influence the impact of policy learning in terms of regime change.
We conclude that specific mechanisms of path dependency, for example, the existing power asymmetries between competing coalitions and the intricate complexity of flood policies, prevent institutional change, but cannot prevent ideas about resilience slowly gaining more impact.

Key words

flood risk management; institutional change; path dependency; policy learning; resilience

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087