Also in the rest of Europe water governance is an important theme. The Water Governance Centre is convinced that international, personal interaction contributes to a broader view of water managers in the field of water governance. The international component enables professionals to think out of the box regarding their own (institutional) situation. Erwin de Bruin performs a feasibility study of this initiative on behalf of the WGC and took part in governance initiatives in Romania and Poland.
Communities of Practice - the initiative
Bringing professionals together around a shared topic in a ‘community of practice’ setting, increases both their network and their mind set. The target group consists professionals (from science, industry and government) that share a governance-related topic that wish to learn from each other. Participants bring in their own cases and find solutions with the help of others. This during personal meetings on a regular basis (in which all participants both give and take).
We focus on Europe at first, because of logistical considerations and the fact that (governance) conditions in Europe which are often more comparable to each other than in other parts of the world. Within Europe, we look specifically to Poland and Romania because of the current governance-related initiatives run by the Dutch government.
Photo: Sanne Winkelman (RWS, PDR)
By invitation of the organising team the WGC took part in the European thematic workshop on "Stakeholder involvement in flood risk management”. Experts from across the European Union discussed for two days on this subject in Bucharest. We provided a plenary presentation on the usefulness of communities of practice and facilitated (together with Deltares) a session on best practices in involving stakeholders at different levels. There appears to be a need for sharing practical experiences in this area: water managers across Europe are coping with similar problems, and currently experience sharing happens mainly in a scientific or high-level administrative environment. A concrete example is the dilemma of multi-level governance: how a major problem can be split into pieces that are manageable at the local level, without losing the bigger picture (e.g. the Netherlands developed the Space for the River concept for this). Continuity of knowledge remains an issue, as international cooperation projects usually have a strictly limited duration and participant pool.
Photo:Caroline Schrandt (DLG)
Another initiative focuses on cooperation in the Vistula river delta between the Dutch Room for the River Directorate (Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment) and the regional Gdansk Water Board in Poland. Both organisations are engaged in long term planning of flood management, and decided in a joint "Polish-Dutch dialogue" to exchange experiences. The WGC facilitated the discussion session on governance and participated in the subsequent Dutch trade mission led by Minister Schultz van Haegen. In Gdansk was especially the dependence on external (national) funding, particularly with regard to the maintenance of infrastructure. Investments are usually paid from EU funds, then no budget for maintenance. Also, the clash between water managers and conservationists on the agenda, which is pronounced in Poland than in the Netherlands. These topics were also discussed during the seminar 'Linked by Water "in Warsaw, where Minister Schultz van Haegen and her Polish counterpart Korolec discussed opportunities of Polish-Dutch cooperation in water management.
Photo: Erwin de Bruin (Sterk Consulting)
How to proceed?
Based on these experiences and further discussions with among others the Netherlands Water Partnership, Space for the River Directorate and Royal Dutch Water Network, the concept of the COP for water governance will be developed further during the coming months. For more information please contact Erwin de Bruin, firstname.lastname@example.org