Deciding about the New Delta: long-term decision-making about water infrastructure in the light of future challenges (Wieke Pot)

This research project will investigate how institutional conditions shape the room for actors to take forward-looking decisions, i.e. decisions that anticipate future developments. To be able to flexibly respond to change it can be needed to change institutional conditions and the established process of optimizing decisions about water infrastructure13–15. For example, large infrastructural investments depend on the involvement of political decision-makers to approve budgets. But often politicians are not very interested in decisions about end-of-lifetime infrastructure because they view these decisions as non-urgent technical problems and are hindered by short electoral cycles. 

The long-term aspects of deciding about end-of-lifetime water infrastructure raises new research problems such as: How to connect short-term actions and investments to long-term challenges in a short-term election cycle? How to facilitate flexibility and anticipation in infrastructure decisions? What is the effect of scenario studies or adaptation pathways on decision-making? Which institutional conditions enable forward-looking decisions?  

This research aims to understand and contribute to enabling forward-looking decisions about water infrastructure. The overall research question is:

Under which institutional conditions and how do public sector organizations take forward-looking decisions about end-of-lifetime water infrastructure? 

The project team provides an interdisciplinary mix between policy sciences, landscape architecture, water management and infrastructure management; and also between science, public and private partners.