The Role of Value Deliberation to Improve Stakeholder Participation in Issues of Water Governance

Klara Pigmans*, Huib Aldewereld, Virginia Dignum, Neelke Doorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Stakeholder participation is a requirement for environmental decision-making in the European Union. Despite this, numerous instances can be seen in water governance in which stakeholders feel undervalued and unheard, thereby creating unfavourable procedural outcomes, resistance and conflict. In this article, we propose that a process of early-stage deliberation constructed around the values of the stakeholders involved can reduce, and even prevent such conflicts. We suggest that if values that stakeholders perceive as relevant can be identified and discussed as part of the deliberation process then (1) stakeholder preferences can change, and (2) participants can develop a mutual understanding of each other’s values and perspectives. To explore these propositions, facilitated workshops were conducted at two Dutch water institutes, based around the topics of land subsidence and the pharmaceutical contamination of water systems. Participants deliberated on values that they considered relevant. The results suggest that mutual understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives increases as a result of value-based deliberation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4067-4085
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Deliberation
  • Mutual understanding
  • Stakeholder participation
  • Values
  • Water governance


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