Enhancing knowledge transfer and uptake in design processes of flood defences

Ellen Tromp

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

153 Downloads (Pure)


For many years the Netherlands has protected itself against high river discharges and storms by means of a network of dikes, dams and (other) hydraulic structures. Traditionally, water safety has therefore mainly been the domain of engineers. In recent decades, the regulations on water safety have been further institutionalised. Knowledge in the field of flood risk management is strongly linked to policy; new knowledge can therefore have far-reaching consequences. Dutch flood risk management policy addresses new knowledge by jointly developing procedures for assessing safety and reliability, and weighing these values against affordability. Because flood defences often fulfil other functions as well, the flood protection domain requires a balance between many more values: regional water authorities, provinces and municipalities must take more account of spatial integration and coupling opportunities, climate (adaptation), and circular economy. Within the Dutch Flood Protection Programme (DFPP) these values are weighed up within the dike reinforcement projects. The DFPP stimulates the development of innovations, often involving the development of new knowledge, also with the aim of being able to carry out the national task better, faster and/or cheaper. Despite all efforts, the innovations do not yet enjoy sufficient confidence in relation to the existing dike reinforcement alternatives, which means that they are not yet fully considered. We also see that the projects involve participatory design processes in which the interests of citizens and businesses are more central. Within this process, visions and various types of knowledge are shared with each other. The need to share and use knowledge is clear. However, the use of knowledge in dike reinforcement projects is problematic along three dimensions. (1) The decision-making power is distributed over the stakeholders, and therefore requires commitment from those stakeholders. (2) Knowledge, where available, is also distributed over stakeholders. Content-related and/or strategic uncertainties give reason not to share this knowledge. (3) Because knowledge is situated, knowledge exchange between stakeholders is intrinsically difficult. This impedes the use of knowledge. Although the institutional framework within which projects are carried out in the Netherlands addresses some of these dimensions, the available knowledge is used only to a limited extent.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • van de Walle, Bartel, Supervisor
  • Bots, P.W.G., Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date11 Nov 2019
Print ISBNs978-94-028-1752-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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