Peter – Rotha/Winnubst Response

Questions: What is considered successful? Who is using the term successful and for what reasons? What is the impact of such connotation in policy terms? Does ‘successful’ mean that it will set a new standard for planning and implementing flood risk measures?

In this instance, I think the fact that the local people had an influence on government policy can be considered a success. The authors mention that when the government first proposed the “Room for the River” program, a few farmers in Overdiep Polder protested the plans. But, “others convinced their colleagues that the best strategy would be to develop a plan that would both serve the public interest of flood protection and their private interests in a viable economic perspective of their farm enterprise.” They did this because they had previous negative experiences with the government in land settlements, former buyouts of farms, and nature conservation policy which led to growing distrust. So, “instead of waiting for the national government to come up with retention plans and then fighting them in the courts right up to the Council of State, they drew up their own plan.”

I think that both the farmers that were able to stay on the polder and the government consider this case study a success. The farmers had a direct impact on the policymaking process and procured an outcome that they felt was more favorable to them than the government’s original plan. The government got to implement a plan which reduced the water level in the River Meuse and maintained legitimacy among the local people.

The impact of who considers this a success in policy terms is that governments will likely try and garner more input from local communities. This way, local communities can feel like they are part of the political process and governments can enact flood risk measures. I think this connotation of “successful” does mean that it will set a new standard for planning and implementing flood risk measures.

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