Public governance

Water Governance in the Netherlands

Fit for the Future?

In series:OECD Studies on Waterview more titles

Published on March 17, 2014

This report assesses the extent to which Dutch water governance is fit for future challenges and sketches an agenda for the reform of water policies in the Netherlands. It builds on a one-year policy dialogue with over 100 Dutch stakeholders, supported by robust analytical work and drawing on international best practice.


Acronyms and abbreviations
Executive summary
Assessment and recommendations
Interlocking water management functions in the Netherlands
Knowing water risks in the Netherlands
Key future trends for Dutch water governance
Multi-level water governance in the Netherlands
Managing water risks in the Netherlands at the least cost to society
Achieving financial sustainability for Dutch water management
Water governance in the Netherlands as a driver for better accountability
List of Dutch stakeholders consulted during the policy dialogue
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The findings highlight the long-standing excellent track record of Dutch water governance in several areas: the system has managed to “keep Dutch feet dry” and to develop a strong economy and robust water industry.  The Netherlands is a global pioneer in water management with a long history of containing flood risks and reclaiming land from the sea. Yet it will need to adapt its water governance policies to meet the looming challenges of shifting demographics, regional development and climate change.

The report highlights the past successes of Dutch water management, examines potential weaknesses for the future and suggests ways to put the system on a more sustainable footing. These include fostering a greater engagement of stakeholders outside the government, using economic incentives more systematically and improving transparency of information on water costs.