Balancing sustainability transitions through state‐led participatory processes: The case of the dutch north sea agreement

Susan de Koning, Nathalie Steins*, Luc van Hoof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Following the Paris Agreement, investing in renewable energy production at sea is per-ceived as a promising development. In addition, food security challenges place increased focus on utilizing seas and oceans while biodiversity and ecosystem integrity must be safeguarded. In the North Sea, these three challenges are combined by the Dutch government in a deliberative governance agreement, involving key stakeholders, aimed at establishing a marine spatial allocation strat-egy. This paper outlines the development and first outcomes of this agreement. Using concepts of sustainability transitions and deliberative governance, we examined the role of the Dutch government in creating sustainability solutions through cross‐sectoral participation processes. Based on our results, we argue that only the government can bring together parties that do not actively seek cooperation, like fisheries organizations and wind farm developers. This is in line with the govern-ment’s role to ensure compliance with international and national agreements, while also represent-ing local (national) stakes. By opening up a discussion between parties that in the past were com-peting for marine space, the Dutch government has managed to make progress in obtaining transition goals. One of these transitions is the transition of the governance system itself, moving towards a more egalitarian style of policy making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2297
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2021


  • Deliberative governance
  • Marine spatial planning
  • North Sea
  • Participatory processes
  • Sustainability transitions


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