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Projects Governance innovation and institutional change

The theme ‘Governance innovation and institutional change’ focuses on the origin, the diffusion, and the effects of changes in the way human societies govern environmental issues.

We are particularly interested in the ideational roots of new ideas on governance, the agency in getting such ideas accepted (e.g. by pilots and experiments), and the (international) processes of policy diffusion.

Below an overview


  • SALAD – Saline Agriculture as a Strategy to Adapt to Climate Change (2021-2024)

    The SALAD project has as objective to improve the resilience of food production in saline and potentially saline agricultural areas in the Mediterranean and North Sea regions by: 

    • supporting the development and sustainable use of innovative salt-tolerant crops,
    • identifying and further developing crop cultivation adapted to saline conditions,
    • exploring and testing innovative market development techniques and instruments with the goal of upscaling crop/food chains across the EU and Africa,
    • exchanging knowledge and transferring practical and adaptive solutions.

    SALAD involves 11 partner institutions from six countries in Europe and Africa, with IVM as project leader. The project receives a total funding of 1.4 million euros from the ERANET Cofund on Food Systems and Climate. 

    Contact person: Dr Kate Negacz.

  • NEWAVE (2019-2023)

    NEWAVE is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) on the ‘Next Water Governance’, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, which aims to equip a new generation of future water governance leaders with fundamental knowledge, advanced skills, and adequate tools to address current and future water governance challenges.

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  • AQUACONNECT – Climate-robust water provision and management for delta areas (2021)

    In 2021, the AQUACONNECT project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NWO) has been added to the EPA water governance portfolio), which will seek to advance the Dutch and global  discussion on circular water use in delta areas, and involves 21 partners, including various industrial companies, consultancy firms, water boards and Dutch provinces. The project is led from Wageningen University and EPA provides the work package leadership on Integrated Assessment and Societal Change. 

    Contact person: Prof. Dave Huitema.

  • New clean energy communities in a changing European energy system – NEWCOMERS (2019-2022)

    In its most recent Energy Union package, the European Union puts citizens at the core of the clean energy transitions. Beyond policy, disruptive innovations in energy sectors are challenging the traditional business model of large energy utilities. One such disruptive, social innovation is the emergence of new clean energy communities (‘newcomers’). The possible benefits of these ‘newcomers’ for their members and for society at large are still emerging and their potential to support the goals of the Energy Union is unclear.

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  • RESILIO – bring your roof to life (2018-2021)

    With the RESILIO (Resilience nEtwork of Smart Innovative cLImate-adapative rOoftops) project, 10,000 m² of smart blue green roofs are being realized in Amsterdam. This is necessary because it rains more often and harder, as well as getting hotter. Excess rainwater is stored underneath the green layer of plants on the roof. The water can be retained or discharged with a smart valve connected to the weather forecast. This helps us to keep our feet dry and our heads cool. The roofs provide space for new nature, and that is good for the city. We bring roofs to life!

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  • INOGOV (2014-2018)

    Set against scientific predictions, current international responses to climate change are widely perceived to be inadequate. There is a growing perception that many mitigation and adaptation measures are being taken outside the international regime. In this sense governance has become considerably more polycentric, with pockets of dynamism especially evident at the national and subnational levels, but also in the so-called transnational sphere. However, there is far less agreement regarding if and how these innovations can be scaled up; if and how they should be coordinated; and where the necessary leadership to achieve this might originate. To address these gaps, INOGOV:

    • identifies ways in which innovative forms of policy and governance for climate change have been stimulated and diffused across time, space and different modes and levels of governing;
    • builds a stronger evaluation capacity to assess actual and intended effects and impacts of these forms;
    • shares usable knowledge with network participants to reach a fuller appreciation of what it means to govern climate change more innovatively.

    INOGOV draws together scholars and practitioners within and outside Europe who focus on particular aspects of policy and governance innovation, namely their ‘sources’; ‘diffusion’; and ‘effects’. By using the full suite of COST networking instruments to explore the inter-relationships between these topics, the project extracts greater value from previous research investments.

    Contact information: Prof. Dave Huitema.

    INOGOV website

  • Local Resilience Capacity Building For Flood Mitigation – CAPFLO (2016-2017)

    Capacity building has recently been incorporated in flood risk management policy as means to increase local resilience. In this project we focus on building two key capacities that are crucial to reduce flood risk and mitigate adverse consequences at local level: social capacity and civic capacity. Social capacity has been defined as the resources available at various levels (individuals, organizations, communities) that can be used to prevent, cope with, recover from and adapt to external stressors. Civic capacity should be understood as one of these resources, and refers to the ability that a community has to articulate the views of different stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental) concerning collective problems. In this context, the project aims to design two consistent tools – an Assessment Tool and a Participatory Tool – to assess and develop social and civic capacities to cope with flood risk at local level. The tools will be applied in five pilot urban case studies, located in five European river basins in France, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy and Germany, in order to identify good practices and illuminate how these capacities could be built. Participatory processes will be carried out and actions implemented in the pilot areas, and the level of social and civil capacity attained will be measured. Finally, a guideline on social and civic capacity building will be produced and made available to policy makers.

    Contact information: Prof. Dave Huitema.

  • Institutional Innovation for Adapting to Climate Change in Water Governance within Cities – INNOVCITIES (2015-2017)

    Marie Curie Individual Fellowship INNOVCITIES will look at water governance through the lens of cities, and focus on investigating institutional innovation for adapting to climate change. The first step will be to conduct a semi-quantitative survey of approximately 30 ‘innovative’ cities across the world to look at the types of institutional innovations occurring (e.g. policy change, new organisational setups). Then an in-depth qualitative comparative research will be conducted in three innovative cities across diverse contexts to understand how and why innovation is occurring, linked to underlying mechanisms of institutional change. Potential cases are: The Netherlands, South Africa, and Brazil.

    Contact information: Prof. Dave Huitemaa.

    INNOVCITIES website

  • Live Diverse (2009-2012)

    LiveDiverse will develop new knowledge on the interactions between human livelihood and biodiversity in riparian and aquatic contexts in four developing countries (Vietnam, India, South Africa, Costa Rica). It has a strong emphasis on dissemination and the constructive engagement of a broad selection of social groups and their governmental and non-governmental representatives. The analysis of biodiversity values, sustainable use and livelihoods (biodiversity governance) within the project adopts vulnerability as a unifying concept, taking the point of departure in the concepts of biodiversity and livelihood vulnerability. Vulnerability will be considered from a combination of bio-physical, socio-economic and cultural perspectives, where human ability to conserve and husband biodiversity while at the same time achieving sustainable livelihoods is of vital importance. The analyses of areas will analyse vulnerability in terms of biophysical, socio-economic-legal and cultural/spiritual issues. Maps of these three perspectives will then be constructed in each case study and incorporated into a Geographic Information System (GIS) system. these maps will be to identify biodiversity and livelihood ‘hot-spots’, that is, places where there is a high risk (according to natural science criteria), and a low capability (according to the socio-economic, law and policy criteria). Finally, biodiversity and livelihood scenarios will be developed. These scenarios will take into account the main perspectives; biological diversity risk, socio economic ability and cultural perceptions to cope with effects of this risk. Working in a fifteen year perspective, these scenarios will examine future possible trends, threats and developments in order to formulate strategies and policy to meet the needs of both biodiversity and livelihoods.

    Contact information: Prof. Dave Huitema.