Drawing lessons from learning - A reflection on enabling conditions for social learning in multi-level flood risk governance arrangements
Boer, J. den
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This thesis presents a detailed analysis of social learning conditions in the 2.3 billion euro integrated flood risk management (IFRM) program Room for the River (RftR). This research aims to conceptualize social learning for IFRM and consequently identify enabling conditions for social learning in this context. An IFRM approach is characterized by a multi-level governance structure and integration of multiple objectives (e.g. spatial planning and flood protection). By using literature on adaptive co-management, sustainable land and water management and IFRM, social learning for IFRM was conceptualized. A list of enabling conditions for social learning originating from this literature was drawn up and tested for the specific context of an IFRM program, by addressing learning in the multi-level governance structure. The learning experiences in the program were analyzed in order to identify the conditions that enable social learning. Methods applied in this research are document analysis and semi-structured interviews with professionals in the program. Lessons learned for IFRM are how to integrate flood protection measures and riverine area development, on multiple levels and scales. It was found that among others, a strong personal commitment to learning and mutual trust in working groups are important preconditions for successful social learning. Conditions hindering social learning are political indecisiveness and stereotypical thinking. Recommendations for future flood protection programs are focusing on facilitation of exchange of experiences and creating an organizational environment committed to learning.