Network governance

Network governance emphasises international cooperation and coordination, for example in water protection, shipping, and roads. It is about building strong partner relationships to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on innovation and best practice.

The term ‘governance’ highlights the active role in building, managing, and ensuring smooth interconnectivity between different networks, always considering the interests of different stakeholders. For example, while the Netherlands may have a vested interest in keeping the level of the Meuse River low, its neighbour Belgium may have a contrasting preference. 

Network governance, therefore, seeks to reconcile such differing interests in an efficient structure, reducing the need for constant renegotiation.

Balancing local and national: Rijkswaterstaat's role in network governance

Network governance is crucial for Rijkswaterstaat and the Netherlands because of the country’s unique location and landscape. Domestically, the Netherlands has a complex network of water systems and roads. They require tight coordination between different regional entities such as the water authorities, provinces, and municipalities. 

Rijkswaterstaat uses its deep understanding of these network structures to ensure their optimal management. For example, Rijkswaterstaat works hard to balance urban traffics flows with national road network efficiency. 

This means negotiating with cities, which generally aim to push traffic out onto their local ring roads. Rijkswaterstaat, on the other hand, views these ring roads as national roundabouts. It aims to prevent traffic jams from forming on these roads and spilling over onto the national motorway system. 

These efforts illustrate the complexities and ongoing challenges of network governance.

Rijkswaterstaat's Multifaceted Expertise in Network Governance

Rijkswaterstaat has multi-layered expertise in network governance. On the one hand, we have technical experts, mainly engineers, who provide in-depth technical knowledge. We also have strategic experts who understand the organisational interdependencies and structures that underpin network governance. 

These experts understand how different networks interact and the nuances of coordinating them effectively. Rijkswaterstaat also involves top-level decision-makers with strong political acumen to ensure that governance is in line with political dynamics. 

In addition, Rijkswaterstaat operates within the framework of European legislation, underlining its commitment to international cooperation and its ability to navigate complex regulatory landscapes.


Discover the international projects Rijkswaterstaat is working on within the field of network governance.

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