#Room for the River Nijmegen, river Waal
Room for the River
Making room for governance Room for the River works thanks to close cooperation between national and regional authorities in both the planning and implementation stages of projects. This is essential to ensure completion of the programme on schedule and within budget.
The partners Central governments and regional authorities, the general public and the business community • In the context of this programme national or central government means the ministries of Infrastructure and the Environment and Economic Affairs with the state secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment having ultimate responsibility. • The regional authorities. These are the local governmental bodies including provinces, regional water authorities and municipalities. • The local government bodies involve residents, businesses and other stakeholders including conservationists in planning and implementation of the projects. • The Room for the River programme directorate, part of Rijkswaterstaat, ensures linkage between national and regional levels. It also monitors the budget while checking, steering and enabling the process and fostering the exchange of information and experience between projects.
Methodology Jointly devising and detailing rather than top-down Locally within central frameworks. Timely involvement of local residents. Checking out plans and decisions made by the regional authorities. Regular (informal) consultation for the proactive resolution of sticking points while sharing knowledge and experience. These are the modernizing aspects surrounding interadministrative cooperation within Room for the River.
‘According to experts this is the first major infrastructure project completed within budget’ • The national authorities set central frameworks for safety objectives, spatial planning quality, the time factor and financing. The regional authorities have the scope locally to carry out the project within these frameworks. • Local government bodies are in tune with what is happening on the ground. They are better positioned to mesh the plan with regional developments. For example, Gorinchem municipality is combining excavation of the river foreland with a facelift for the Avelingen industrial estate. Meanwhile Nijmegen is taking the opportunity to reposition the dyke at Lent to give the town a new boost.
ROOM FOR THE RIVER | MAKING ROOM FOR GOVERNANCE
• Procedures must be completed prior to commencement of earth-moving activities: inquiry procedures, zoning plans and permits. Room for the River accelerates this process by means of a coordinating formula. For the implementing parties this means a ‘one-stop shop’ for all permits. • Agreements between the various governmental bodies are set out in administrative contracts for the planning and implementation stages and in cooperation agreements. These agreements ensure a meaningful
‘Partners at all levels in the joint process meet regularly’ basis for support and ownership. • The cooperation agreement includes undertakings on the part of the parties granting permits (competent authorities) to ensure the smooth operation of procedures. Efforts are made to bring about proactive resolution of sticking points through regular meetings of administrative support groups. • Where feasible, adjustments are made to any policy that hampers project progress. A good example here is the system of flood damage compensation for residents of areas outside the ring of dykes. This was designed specifically for Room for the River. • Partners at all levels in the joint process meet regularly outside the formal framework. This includes the annual Administrative Conference where Room for the River managers share knowledge and experience.
• ‘Room for the River could be the best example of a major infrastructural project that has gone as it should. It was budgeted at € 2.3 billion and will be within budget.’ According to Ernst ten Heuvelhof (Professor of Public Administration at Delft University of Technology). Completion is set for between 2013-2019 and only eight projects are experiencing a minor delay of around a year. • Three professors – Jurian Edelenbos (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Ernst ten Heuvelhof (Delft University of Technology) and Michiel Kort (Erasmus University and Delft University of Technology) – attribute the success of Room for the River to the ‘multi-level water governance’. This entails cooperation at central and decentralized level on the part of administrative and official partners. It also entails public, private and social spheres being harmonized. The scientists are of the opinion that Room for the River has been successful in organizing this plurality whilst scrupulously monitoring the objectives of the programme. • Even the three-quarter review carried out by Andersson Elffers Felix (2013) concludes that the process architecture of Room for the River has contributed to successful cooperation. The replacement decision, as an option for local interested parties to introduce alternative measures, has contributed to the sense of equality and is highly appreciated by local parties. ‘Multi-level governance’ is described in the review as ‘a smart concept of public-public cooperation’,; with important values being variation in terms of leadership style (sometimes serving, sometimes compelling), taking each other seriously, cooperation on the basis of equality and giving each other credit where credit is due (win-win).
‘Multi-level governance: a smart concept of equal public-public cooperation’ • Two PhD students (Sebastiaan van Herk and Jeroen Rijke, both from Delft University of Technology), write in their theses that the approach and cooperation within Room for the River are working, that the interests of stakeholders are being carefully considered and that the approach is resilient to changing circumstances.
Evidence-based Scientists confirm: Room for the River governance is effective The approach to cooperation within Room for the River contributes to enhanced planning, greater support and smooth implementation. As a result Room for the River is on schedule. These results are confirmed by scientific research. According to experts this is the first major infrastructure project completed on time and within budget.
Published on Feb 25, 2015