Drought Governance in Transition : a Case Study of the Meuse River Basin in the Netherlands

Brockhoff, Romy Carmen; Biesbroek, Robbert; Bolt, Bregje Van der


The Netherlands is internationally renowned for its flood risk management, but three consecutive dry years between 2018–2020 fuelled the debate on how to deal with future drought risk. Drought governance in the Netherlands is still in its infancy. The increased sense of urgency has led many scholars and policy makers to call for transitions towards a more anticipatory drought governance which enables transformative actions in an adequate and timely manner. Whilst transitions have been studied before, few have looked at governance systems, and even fewer on the processes that can steer the direction and speed of governance transitions in the future. This paper adopts a novel perspective by combining theories on mechanisms and transitions to analyse future governance transitions. The aim of this study is to identify the key mechanisms that have potential to steer and/or accelerate transitions in Dutch drought governance. This study focusses on the upper part of the Dutch Meuse River basin. Using a document analysis, expert interviews, and focus group discussions, the findings show that five underlying micro-level mechanisms are critical to steer and accelerate transitions. These include social learning, shared problem perception, administrative courage and leadership, persistency, and institutionalisation. The novel transition-mechanistic conceptual approach adopted in this study offers a starting point for other studies that wish to obtain a better understanding of underlying processes in a transition.