Dealing with uncertainty in collaborative planning: developing adaptive strategies for the IJsselmeer

Mark Zandvoort*, Rutger van der Brugge, Maarten J. van der Vlist, Adri van den Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Adaptive strategies to deal with uncertainty in water management are often collaboratively developed. So far, however, little attention has been paid to the influence of collaboration on handling uncertainty through adaptive planning. In this paper, we study how collaboration has influenced the handling of uncertainty through adaptive planning for water management strategies for the IJsselmeer area in the Netherlands. We show how a fixation on certainty, different perspectives among actors and unclear responsibilities between arenas affect the handling of uncertainty, and found that it is adversely affected by collaboration. The use of adaptive planning challenged current water uses and system functions, creating resistance from actors. We conclude that developing a shared problem perception, creating a common understanding of uncertainties and ensuring a clear demarcation between the water system, its societal functions and water usage, are necessary to make adaptive planning successful in handling uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-265
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2019


  • adaptive planning
  • collaborative water management
  • flexibility
  • responsibility
  • uncertainty


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