TRS.20.027 – Valuing water: resilient water strategies for resilient societies

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 011 How can we ensure proper water governance in the future?

This project aims to reshape water policies and strategies in light of global environmental change, to render them more resilient. This requires shifts in approaches to risks and vulnerabilities due to both water excesses and shortages, and concerns about water quality. Perceptions of risks and vulnerabilities are influenced by (perceived and measured) values of water by different stakeholders, which in turn influence capabilities and willingness to change, and hence, social-ecological resilience. We expand the perspective on resilience, moving beyond assumptions of stability or ‘return to normalcy’. Applying a transdisciplinary approach, we will assess tangible and intangible values of water (economic, ecological, cultural, etc.), for different stakeholders, at different spatial-temporal scales (e.g. local, regional, historical pathways and future visions), and the ways in which these values (can) play a role in reshaping water governance. The objective is to develop a unifying, holistic, concept and methodology of water valuation which provides leverage points for transformation towards sustainable water governance. These findings will be iteratively integrated in participatory scenario-planning and experimental interventions for future-proof water governance. The project is executed in two living labs with strongly diverging demands and ambitions. In ‘Greater Leiden’, we will study existing governance experiments to deal with challenges in low-lying Netherlands such as salination and flood risks. In the ‘Hoge Veluwe’, the interaction between extreme weather events and land use change is the main challenge. In both labs, the project team will co-develop and implement interventions to enhance responsiveness to shifting values of water. This will inspire and contribute to the implementation of the new national Spatial Planning Law (Omgevingswet), in and beyond these living labs. Our consortium combines a variety of perspectives and practices related to water values and valuation, governance, and contacts with a variety of societal actors, to provide the envisaged holistic view on water.


climate change, global environmental change, Governance, living labs, resilience, risks, scenario planning, social-ecological systems, vulnerabilities, water

Other organisations

Hogeschool Leiden, Hogeschool van Hall Larenstein, Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland, Institute of Public Administration (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs), Leiden University (LEI), Leiden University Institute of Environmental Sciences, Waterschap Vallei en Veluwe


Organisation Leiden University (LEI), Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology
Name Prof. dr. M.J. (Marja) Spierenburg