PhD defence

Deciding for tomorrow, today. What makes governmental decisions about water infrastructure forward looking?


This dissertation researches the extent to which Dutch governments anticipate the future with their investments in water infrastructure. The dissertation finds that governments do not necessarily anticipate long-term developments as part of their investment decisions. Scientifically developed decision support tools such as scenarios and adaptive decision pathways are only applied to a limited extent. The dissertation shows that it is possible for governments to make future-oriented, hence forward-looking, decisions despite short-term budget and electoral cycles. Governments are stimulated to make forward-looking decisions in response to, amongst others, extreme weather events and because they aim to avoid future risks. One of the dilemmas that this dissertation reveals, is the choice between steering via long-term governmental agendas versus being responsive towards new developments. The dissertation provides a number of recommendations to help governments make more forward-looking decisions. Recommendations amongst others include: formulating a bold future goal and appointing organizational scouts that signal new developments.