Participation is essential in the Delta Programme: capitalising on the expertise, ideas, experience, and creativity of all those involved often produces better solutions. For that reason, the Delta Programme encourages governments initiating activities in the fields of flood risk management, freshwater supply, and spatial adaptation to organise joint fact finding processes, inviting other (potentially) interested parties to weigh in at an early stage, to explore taskings and solutions area by area, and provide room for new solutions (befitting the tasking and the project stage).
Joint fact finding and the timely involvement of potentially interested parties constitute an important basis for developing widely supported decisions. To accomplish this, the Delta Programme Commissioner plays an active role in special situations. For example, in March 2017 the Delta Programme Commissioner took on the role of independent process coordinator for the Uitdam dyke improvement project, at the behest of the governments concerned and local residents. The Uitdam dyke improvement is an element of the Markermeerdijken improvement tasking, a project that has been running for more than ten years. By way of a joint fact finding process, the Uitdam stakeholders have equivocally elaborated a soil variant and a constructive variant. On the basis of the results, the Delta Programme Commissioner has drawn up an independent and directive advisory report regarding the improvement method to be employed at Uitdam, which he presented to the Hollands Noorderkwartier district water control board on 27 June 2017.
A point for attention presented by the Delta Act evaluation committee is that the elaboration and implementation phases entail a wider and more complex circle of stakeholders (the delta community), which raises the requirements for involving the outside world.
This year, for the first time, the Delta Programme provides explicit insight into the extent of participation in the implementation of the Delta Decisions and preferential strategies. The general picture is that across the board, governments and NGOs are widely involved at the various levels (policy development, elaboration, and implementation). In some cases, involving municipalities in the regional Delta Programme taskings requires additional attention, and on occasion, involving businesses and residents appears difficult. A complicating factor is that many projects are still in the research phase. As requested by the Cabinet and administrative partners, in the comprehensive Cabinet response to the evaluation of the Delta Act, the Delta Programme Commissioner will continue to encourage collaboration with NGOs and the business community. At the national level, the Infrastructure and the Environment Consultative Body provides advice to the Delta Programme Steering Group. NGOs also remain involved in the regions (see overview). Participation in the regions is achieved through, e.g., consultative groups and regional consultative bodies, with annual stakeholders meetings. The Flood Protection Programme supports and fosters participation in various ways, including by setting up environment managers communities and publishing guidelines. At the project level, district water boards, municipalities, and Rijkswaterstaat involve residents, the business community, and NGOs from the very start of the process; with respect to MIRT projects, such involvement is effected in accordance with the Code Maatschappelijke Participatie [Social Participation Code].
Cf. the advisory report by the Infrastructure and the Environment Consultative Body regarding Delta Programme 2018 and the Delta Programme Commissioner’s response in Background Document C.
The Delta Programme projects are highly diverse in nature. They range from research into new policy instruments to the implementation of dyke improvements. Furthermore, the projects differ as to the stage they are in (exploration, plan elaboration, realisation). In the Delta Programme, initiators are requested, prior to a study or project, to provide systematic clarity regarding the scope available for input from NGOs, businesses, and residents, and to provide insight during the process into how the questions and ideas submitted have been used. Such an ex ante outline of the process clearly demonstrates – to both initiators and participants – what input, expertise, and time investment are needed and feasible to actually substantiate the participation. This provides a basis for the parties involved to enter into a dialogue about an appropriate and practicable form of participation.
Impelled by the driving force of initiator and resident Riek Bakker, a community of more than one hundred participants presented a long-term vision for the Krimpenerwaard area in early 2017. The community was composed of residents, entrepreneurs, and young farmers. Supported by independent experts, the participation groups have drawn up advisory reports that were unanimously adopted by the community and that form an integral part of the vision document. People could also submit ideas during the two-weekly consultation hour held by the initiator; some twenty people have utilised this opportunity. The vision document is a fine example of an adaptive approach: the taskings to be tackled in the next 30 years have been linked to decisions to be taken in the short term. The vision document also indicates which taskings can be connected, such as flood risk management and infrastructure, soil subsidence and underwater drainage, local manufacturing industry and energy transition. The province, the Krimpenerwaard municipalities, and local business organisations have supported the vision document with a financial contribution. The “Waardcommissie”, chaired by the (provincial) Royal Commissioner and with the participation of the Delta Programme Commissioner, acted as “keeper” of the initiative. The subsequent step will be a concrete implementation agenda to be drawn up by an Explorer, in parallel to the decision-making process in the municipal councils and the Provincial Council of Representatives.