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Building with Nature Guideline > BwN Approach > Governance > Governance - Stakeholder network management 

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Governance – Stakeholder network management


Building with Nature solutions are innovations which are welcomed by some, and distrusted by others. Serious success factors are: understanding the basic mechanisms of decision making; organizing a dialogue with crucial persons, organisations and networks; and using effective arguments in interaction. The section 'Stakeholder network management' aims to increase the support for BwN in society. 

For this, mapping of important networks, actors, processes and factors is crucial. A successful strategy to realise BwN starts with understanding how society works and with a few skills to map and monitor this social system. The figure below shows as an example a simple map of a BwN Consortium within its social system with a communication strategy for each ring.


Scoping and decision making in society

With the term ‘scoping’ reference is made to an assessment of the nature of a problem and the range of possible solutions. Scoping and decision-making processes in society can happen in many ways . Decisions with regard to infrastructure are prepared and elaborated with actors both from the government and from other actors in society such as citizens and private companies. Linkages between individuals, networks and organisations provide an important analytical perspective on this process.

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Individuals are grouped into organisations. Individuals and organisations cooperate in networks. The term network implies a cluster of interdependent actors. Each of these actors has an interest in decision making, and is connected to others by shared ambitions or resources. Which role actors play and how dominant they are depends on their motivation, position and resources.Resources in society are dispersed over multiple actors, networks and coalitions. All of these parties participate in decision making arenas, where they may hold strong power positions. Their power basis may vary between legal, expertise-based, financial or support-based. Also, the relevant arenas differ by project phase and not every actor is present/influential in every phase. 

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The focus in this section is on how to become involved in the arenas where scoping takes place and decisions are prepared and taken. It is essential for the BwN-initiator and for the BwN-coalition not to overlook important networks, actors, processes and factors


The ‘job' for which guidance is offered is about:

  • How to map and influence arenas, actors, agendas and decision making in society?
  • How to advocate the BwN-approach and influence scoping and decision making in this direction?


This guidance in presented in seven paragraphs below, followed by the lessons learned so far from BwN case studies.

Note that the strategic question how to connect to society should continuously be asked. There is no single strategy that secures success in all cases. Sometimes it is better to focus upon one arena, one network or one actor, in other cases the best approach is a 'scattershot' covering multiple arenas, networks and actors. 


The following seven points of guidance are given, based on experiences obtained, amongst other with the projects as described under Practical Applications (below): 

1. Connect to political and societal agendas:  Read more


2. Track arenas and processes (backward mapping):   Read more


3. Map actors, positions and stakes:   Read more


4. Connect to actors and arenas:   Read more

5. Organise BwN arenas:   Read more

6. Organise connections to the power game:   Read more


7. Monitor the arenas and the coalitions:   Read more


Lessons learned

The pilot experiments executed so far in the Building with Nature innovation program have taught us the following lessons with respect to governance and networking:


Lesson 1: Bridging administrative scales and ecosystem scales:   Read more


Lesson 2: Bridging to politicians, finding champions:   Read more


Lesson 3: Bridging to civil servants:   Read more


Lesson 4: Bridging to the public at large:   Read more


Lesson 5: Arguments pro BwN:   Read more


Lesson 6: Seek for integral development aims to connect to:   Read more


Lesson 7: Enhancing support:   Read more


Lesson 8: Explicit commitment to BwN:   Read more


Lesson 9: Apply creative strategies:   Read more


Practical applications - examples


The efforts to inform society about Building with Nature ideas is dispersed over society and is not limited to actors having the formal right to decide. The challenge is to engage in chaotic and unpredictable decision making processes and to gradually convince the different participants. Understanding decision making and formal and informal power structures is a prerequisite for influencing decisions. A couple of illustrative examples is described below.


Case IJsseldelta south (By-pass Kampen)

To the southwest of the Dutch town of Kampen, in the province of Overijssel and bordering Lake IJssel (IJsselmeer), a new river branch is being designed in order to cope with the increased water discharge in the Dutch Rhine branches. The creation of this new branch for flood safety is combined with other developments such as housing, infrastructure, recreation as well as nature development. This is integrated into the large-scale integral development project IJsseldelta-South. Planning and design started in 2004; the final plan has been approved in the summer of 2012. An intensive participation process was part of the design process. The resulting plan largely coincides with the former sea-arm “de Reeve” and includes large-scale nature development. Overall, the plans have a high level of “nature inclusive” thinking in them and nature itself is considered essential for making the project a success. 

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Case Markermeer-IJmeer


Although the Netherlands are continuously developing, there are areas that stand still for several decades. One of them is the Markermeer, formerly part of the Zuiderzee, later the IJsselmeer, and separated from it by a dike, the Houtribdijk. The latter was built as part of a plan to reclaim the area, but this plan was abandoned when the need for agricultural land decreased.  With the Markermeer and the IJmeer, the Amsterdam metropolitan area has access to a conservation and recreation area on its doorstep of nearly 80,000 hectares. The extensive open waters and the varied coastline possess unique qualities, especially given their urban surroundings. The potential value of this area for nature is beyond question. The lakes are a key resource in several bird migration routes. The presence of many thousands of birds is one of the reasons why this area enjoys protection at a European level (N2000). But nature in this area is under pressure and has declined significantly since the eighties. Turbidity has gone up, flora and fauna are on the decline and bird numbers have fallen. The question is whether and how this decline can be reversed.

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Case Markerwadden


After the damming of the Zuiderzee in 1933 and the subsequent construction of polders and compartment dams in the newly created IJsselmeer a large fresh water lake, the Markermeer, was created. After several decades the water of this 4 m deep, 700 km2 lake was found to be very turbid, with a muddy lake bed, causing a declining fish stock and bird life. While more than 1.5 million people live around the lake the lack of natural shorelines reduces the potential of recreational use of the area. 

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