Stakeholder participation in long term planning of water infrastructure

By Dr Geert Roovers, scholar – Taking stakeholders into account while making plans helps to increase legitimacy. But in long-term planning involvement of stakeholders encounters severe problems. It encounters problems because of the misfit in planning horizons between asset manager and stakeholders. Furthermore, the ambiguous and indistinct character of stakeholders’ ambitions makes successful participation difficult. This article explores ways to deal with this problematic nature of stakeholder participation in long-term planning within modern water infrastructure asset management.

Following theory, this article presents a typology with four types of possible styles for asset management which also gives rise to specific forms of stakeholder participation: (1) monofunctional – asset manager realizes the main function of its assets and manages them with only an eye on the principle core function of the asset; (2) integrated – asset manager realizes an integral approach of its assets, and manages them with this integral approach in mind; (3) accommodating – asset manager realizes the main function of its assets but accommodates other functions as well; and (4) learning – asset manager is responsible for the main function of its assets, but invites stakeholders to participate, intertwine other functions and to manage, explore and develop the system jointly.

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The feasibility of these styles of asset management is assessed by looking at four cases with a long-term perspective within Dutch water management. We derived possible characteristics of these styles and accompanying stakeholder participation, seen from a long-term perspective. These characteristics give appropriate directions to deal with the problematic nature of stakeholder participation in long-term issues within modern water and infrastructural asset management.

The entire paper can be read in ‘Infrastructure Complexity‘.

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